If you think we’re tech savvy now, wait until you meet the ‘future’ you.
You’ll no longer carry any cash, won’t drive yourself around and will be able to work from literally anywhere because everyone will be connected through telephonics.
And for the small business owner, that future is becoming reality – and fast.
Most of your customers and clients are already accustomed to on-demand retail, and if they can’t already, they’ll be able to get what they want, when they want. Here we look at the consumer of the future and how you can create loyal customers into 2037 and beyond.
Meet the Jetsons
A 2017 report called the Customer of the Future, researched and published by global creative consultancy Lippincott, anticipates the habits and needs of the average consumer of the future and how those needs can be met.
Based on two years researching the behaviour of thousands of consumers, early adopters and influencers across North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa, the report created an in-depth profile of the consumer of the future.
It predicted the average 25-year-old of the future will:
- Get around using only driverless cars
- Only visit a doctor remotely through telemedicine
- Constantly be online thanks to ‘connected’ clothing items
- Shop online and have parcels and groceries delivered by drone
- Have a tattoo that unlocks their car and can keep tracks of fitness goals
- Have a virtual manager
“This is not science fiction, nor is it even a particularly bold perspective on technological influence,” the report states.
“It’s a sketch of a not too distant future full of significant disruption. These technology changes won’t just change the customer experience, they’ll change how the world works — how people connect, create, escape, accomplish, work, unwind, understand, stand out, fit in, get smart, get well, get money and simply live.”
The report unearthed six fundamental shifts shaping the customer of the future, and offers businesses the following advice to help them stay on top of emerging trends.
- A life in flow – Never interrupt the consumer’s flow; rather, provide products and experiences that flow smoothly with their de-located, independent life.
- Omnipotent individual – The standard-bearer of the future will be decidedly non-standard. Give them the power to unbundle, customise, make, modulate and mix.
- On-demand everything – Eliminate three non-starters; waiting, boredom and unnecessary effort, by making everything instant, fun and easy.
- Exponential intelligence – Equip your consumer with as much information as possible, from as many sources as possible.
- Synthetic reality – Help your consumer be more and do more by integrating digital and real life. Capitalise on all the new possibilities in gamification, beautification, information and communication.
- Transparent existence – The consumer’s trust goes to crowd-verified, fully transparent products and processes, so open up your customer experience for full accountability. Ground your trust in transparency, not authority.
Cos Luccitti, co-founder and chief experience officer of customer experience agency CXA, agrees that privacy will become a major focus for customers in the future.
“The customer of tomorrow will expect and demand a whole new level of privacy,” he says.
“With every ad we click, product we buy online, and website we browse, we leave a digital personal print of ourselves for anyone who has the means to see it, trace it and abuse it.
“With the increasing proliferation of online tracking and data collection, consumers are increasingly becoming more and more wary of potential intrusions into their personal lives, and concerned about the security of their personally identifiable information.
“So consequently, if their private information is put at risk they will be more likely than before to change buyer behaviour or shift loyalty.”
He says privacy-focused search engines such as DuckDuckGo and StartPage.com have surged in popularity to combat cyber snoops.
“Businesses need to be aware of their customers’ developing hyper awareness of sharing personal information and growing sensitivity toward data exposure,” he says.
“Tomorrow’s customers will want reassurance their privacy in intact and will want an opt-in approach (in which they can choose how their information is stored).”
Luccitti advised business owners to put security measures in place now to head off future issues.
“Hire the right IT people, invest in relevant software, and train your employees to follow protocols,” he advises.
“You need to be transparent. Tell your customers how you collect their data and how you plan to use it. And don’t sell your customers’ data. Your short-term gain may result in the pain of lost customers.”