Value is somewhat of a buzz word in marketing, often used to describe the benefits of a product or service, and what one company can offer that another cannot. What creates value in the minds of consumers has adapted over time, as new technology is released and consumer trends and preferences change.

In 2018, there are some clear trends for what consumers are valuing most. With major market disruptions and the rapid rate at which new technology is being produced, here is what consumers are expecting from their goods and service providers.

  1.       Convenience

For many years convenience has been king and nothing much has changed as 2018 rolled around. However, the concept of what convenience means to consumers now is distinctly different to that of the past decade. Many years ago, drive-throughs were the height of convenience, but now as food delivery apps have become widely available, anything that involves leaving the house is a bother to most consumers.

This trend isn’t confined to the food service industry however, with almost all major retail brands and even boutique stores adopting an online shopping platform, consumers are expecting click of a button service across all areas of the market.

Another industry that is booming as a result of adapting to provide the convenience that consumers value so much is the fitness industry. One would be hard pressed to find a gym that didn’t offer 24/7 access to its members and an extensive class schedule that catered to a flurry of different lifestyles.

  1.       Real Time Service

Off the back of the convenience trends come consumer’s expectations for real time service and feedback from brands. With social media now a part of everyday life for almost 80% of Australia’s, no longer do consumers expect to wait in que whilst trying to call through to a company’s call centre.

The game changed dramatically with the introduction of social media platforms like Facebook, as they became a channel for consumers to reach out to brands and receive a prompt response. As instant replies became the norm, brands searched for a way offer their customers this level of convenience without the huge manpower required to deliver it. Introducing chatbots: a form of artificial intelligence that can respond to most customer queries. Chatbots eliminate the need for an enormous customer service team and frees up employees to focus on more complex work.

  1.       Digital Integration

Consumer offerings have morphed greatly as people around the world turned to technology to read their news, talk with friends and buy their goods. As a reflection of this societal shift, newspapers are now offered as online subscriptions and banking is almost always done online. Though small, these changes reflect a wider demand from consumers for all aspects of their life to have some level of digital integration.

We Are Social Identified that 55% of Australians prefer to do tasks digitally wherever possible. With thousands of Australians waking up to ask Google Home what the weather is today, and taking recommendations from Siri about where to get their morning coffee, it is clear that brands who fail to adapt to the digital landscape will quickly fall behind.

The rise in popularity of apps from major retails brands including ASOS and The Iconic are matched by the introduction of apps from major QSR providers such as McDonalds and KFC. For those who aren’t on a scale where they can build their own app, many brands are turning to intermediary apps like Uber Eats to reach out digitally to consumers.

  1.       Personalisation

Mass produced products are no longer golden in the eye of consumers, despite offering a lower-price point and often widespread availability. As marketers employed strategies centred on individualisation to capture consumers attention, this level of personalised service has become the norm.

What started at as an EDM that Read: Dear Michelle, rather than: Dear Reader has now become a widespread obsession with ultra-personalised offerings on both the goods and services fronts. With brands such as The Daily Edit offering consumers monogrammed products through to companies that allow you to handcraft a whiskey to suit exactly your tastes, anything that seems remotely standard is lost amongst the sea of tailor made products. Whereas on the service front concepts such as personalised learning begin to take centre stage.

The popularity of personalisation doesn’t have to be seen as an extra expense to brands however, with this trend providing an opportunity for brands to learn more about their customers and their preferences, strengthening their relationship with the client.

  1.       An Experience

Finally, something that has been slowly integrating itself into almost every aspect of a brands service offerings is the concept of an experience. There was no one point over the past few years where the atmosphere of a restaurant become almost as important as the food, but rather this was something that happened over time.

Fuelled by a more widespread change of consumers valuing experiences over things, characteristics including aesthetics, service and atmosphere have become just as important as food quality and range. Brands that can offer an experience that is unique and iconic will see great success, with many consumers seeking authenticity in the brands they choose to spend with.

This trend is not limited to the food service industry, with millennials taking a different path than those before them and opting to value experiences that make them happy over material goods. This has resulted in an increasing in spending across travel, leisure and entertainment, with these same experiences often used as a tool for people to define themselves to their friends on social media.

The Take-away

It is clear that no matter what industry you are in, what consumers want is changing, and brands value propositions must change to reflect that if they want to stay competitive in the market. No doubt that in three years’ time consumer preferences will have seen another major shift, and one again, brands will have to follow suit.

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