Editor’s Letter: The Slow, Steady Evolution of Consumer Experience Marketing

Our penultimate Digital Transformation Playbook shows brands need to shed legacy

CPG brands are benefitting from a scrappier, more nimble marketing approach.
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We’ve all seen it, the good, the bad and the ugly of consumer experience marketing.

The good is a seamless interaction with a brand that approaches shopping with a trusted friend and creates a sense of fulfillment. The bad is getting parked in a digital cul-de-sac by a brand’s nascent and fumbling direct-to-consumer play. And the ugly is disruptive marketing dressed up like experience that comes off as robo stalking to the end user—you. Or who they kinda think you are. Kinda.

Brand marketers are struggling with experience-based interactions with consumers who have come to demand a true omnichannel and omniplatform flow from marketing. If customers don’t get it, they will revolt—and then they ghost you.

In this, the ninth and penultimate Digital Transformation Playbook in partnership with Accenture Interactive, we look at the steady evolution of consumer experience, platforms and brand marketing. The reporting, stats and insights we’ve pulled together on the following pages suggest that brands need to shed legacy platforms and practices as fast as possible to meet the light-speed demands consumers have of them.

In her opinion piece, Deb Corrao, managing director and North American head of delivery for Accenture Interactive, neatly sums up the endgame. “By offering seamless services and communication across touch points, your brand can offer ease and even bring moments of joy to a person’s daily life,” she writes.

But as Dan Tynan’s feature on experience design underscores, creating those moments of joy requires mindset change and reorganization around the new realities of screens, voice, AI and virtual reality.

“I’m always working with my teams to make sure they’re not just creating a design solution for a screen in a vacuum,” Tynan quotes Kevin Kearney, vp of product for global design firm Elephant. “That screen, wherever it lives, needs to consider not only the large landscape of that business but also the experiences that people expect outside the category, which are being driven by more nimble companies.” No small feat for brand marketers not used to life at that pace.

And in his regular Winners’ Playbook, Tynan offers up five road rules to modernize your interfaces with consumers: Know your users, look beyond your category, don’t be a copycat, go where your customers are and don’t stop.

That last one is probably the hardest of the bunch—don’t stop. It takes a certain toughness to handle this new reality where there is only moving forward and failing and iterating along the way. “People don’t understand how much failure goes into every successful interface they see,” Tynan quotes Khoi Vinh, principal designer at Adobe, who adds that for a brand to be competitive in the future, its UX has to ceaselessly move with the consumer.

This pursuit of frictionless utility for the consumer, it seems, is the new creativity.

As I watch Adweek’s amazing editorial team cover the change, swirl and shift around consumer experiences and journeys, the Arcade Fire song We Used to Wait often pops into my head. For me it’s a lament for a time when there were gaps in our lives during which we would actually tolerate, achingly and romantically, waiting for the arrival of things as simple as a letter.

The song, though, is also brutal in making it clear that those days, like traditional advertising and marketing forms, are fading quickly, and technology and data and the real but often phony urgency they create is the new truth. “Now our lives are changing fast,” the song refrains and repeats. “Now are lives are changing fast.”

This story first appeared in the July 23, 2018, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.