Culturally disruptive commerce, by VMLY&R Commerce’s Fabio Medeiro

VMLY&R Commerce’s strategy director, Fabio Medeiro explores the relationship between culture, technology and creativity in digital commerce.

This is not a piece on breakthrough technology, social selling, AI, AR or voice search for shopping.
I’m not a technologist. I’m simply a very curious human being with lots of questions and probably not a lot
of answers.

But I’ll tell you what I do enjoy a lot: culture and human behaviour. So let’s talk about that.

Culture and people, not technology alone, will mould commerce and how brands sell in the future. Big statement? Perhaps. But let’s talk.

Technology is reshaping the world. How we live, how we work and, clearly, how we shop. Yet it’s how we adjust to it that truly matters. And in recent years the advancement of mobile phones and the easier access to data and internet connections have boosted e-commerce, enhancing and expanding the shopping experience.

E-commerce hasn’t grown just because of its convenience and vast inventories. The likes of Amazon and Jumia understand consumers’ mindsets and their shopping behaviours in ways no high-street retailer has done before. The playing field is now limitless and completely focused on consumers’ needs and wants.

Today, brands have started to understand that well. They are ceasing to be egotistical, self-centred animals with a lot to say, and starting to become humanised beings who listen and cater for how consumers behave. That means consumers’ lives and behaviours need to be at the centre of everything brands do to engage and sell.

And it doesn’t have to be as deep as trying to answer the ‘Why do I need?’ question. That’s complicated (let me conveniently ignore that for now). It’s more about understanding what and when do I want it. Because, for areas such as FMCG, leisure or services, consumers more often than not know what they want and want it right now. Effectiveness and efficiency command the relationship.

So, focusing on delivering the ‘what I want, when I want’ will lead to more powerful propositions, making shopping more comfortable and easier.

And isn’t that why agencies, exist? To make the relationship between consumers and brands easier? To help brands resonate and sell through creativity?

Yes, I’m an agency guy. Now, back to technology and culture.

Today, technology influences our everyday like never before, having a significant influence on how culture is shaped and behaviour evolves. Hence, we see technology being naturally added in all facets of culture including how we travel, how we consume and shop for food, how we participate in politics and, of course, how we produce and consume art.

There’s no doubt technology has helped different cultures to reframe themselves and adapt to today’s world. It allowed nations and people to intermix. To learn from one another. And it seems like we indeed learned.

Have you ever thought about how developing nations seem to have cracked the e-commerce basics for success even before the ‘e’ was added to the word commerce? And now the world is on board.

For example, buying from a local retailer that knows exactly what you want has become data-driven CRM. Calling a local butcher for a quick meat delivery has turned into q-commerce. Having a credit line with a mom-and-pop shop to pay later is now a billion-dollar industry called BNPL (buy now, pay later). This last one is the latest true commerce disruptor and one that could massively affect markets globally.

Local cultural habits being legitimised and globalised by technology. Interesting, no? But now that technology is levelled and accessible to most, how can the creative industry truly contribute to the advancement of commerce?

Again, I’m not a man who has too many answers, but my gut tells me the focus should be on creating true valuable disruption at the intersection of culture and technology. Bringing positive tension to shopping moments.

Unlike an interruption, disruption requires one to think, leading to a reaction that will pivot one’s behaviour in a tangible way. And, hopefully, trigger a connection or purchase.

To wrap up this very long text, the acceleration of e-commerce has pushed businesses to adjust and adapt, converging the spheres of social media, e-commerce and advertising into one huge ecosystem.

So, in this world where consumers want deeper relationships with brands, rethinking commerce and e-commerce experiences around technology, culture and creative disruption is a must to succeed. The key is to resonate, creating connections and providing consumers with a compelling reason to say, ‘I want that.’

Wait… now we’re getting into CX and shopping. A lot to say here as well, but let’s leave that for another conversation.

When can we meet again?