Industry snapshot: Vijay Simon, YouExperience

Vijay Simon, Chief Innovation Officer, YouExperience

What were the biggest shifts you saw in digital in 2021?

Generation Glass we call them. These are the guys who grew up discovering their world through a sheet of glass – tablet, desktop, mobile. They’re inseparable from the technology that connects them to their world; so, when a virus a thousand times smaller than the width of human hair flung their world into chaos, it brought out the beast in them. Gen Z, who were already acclimatized to hyper-personalisation – and who now were spending even more hours on their phones – demanded something more from the algo: “read my mind”. This demand goes beyond just frictionless e-commerce transactions on digital. With Gen Z well aware that companies have their data, they now expect brands to offer them proactive, anticipatory, bespoke experiences throughout their digital journey. A year ago, they would waltz through any digital experience hoping you had what they wanted. Post-panny, they now expect brands to read their minds and deliver exactly what they want.

What will the most notable changes be in 2022?

The pandemic changed our emotional makeup.
As much as Gen Z are demanding that brands be able to read their minds, they’re putting these brands through a sieve of accountability, examining their behaviour during the crisis. Did they exploit people’s fear to sell more stuff? Did they support their communities? When business took a hit, did they throw their employees under the bus? And then, there’s climate change that’s becoming a dealbreaker. A Deloitte survey of global consumers shows that nearly eight in 10 people remembered instances of brands positively responding to Covid-19 to help their customers, workforces, and communities. Positive brand actions shift not just brand perceptions but consumers’ buying decisions in favour of the brand. And negative brand action can lead to one in four consumers walking away from the brand. Conscience is the new black. Brands that have one have a big advantage.

Where are the biggest challenges this year, and how should clients overcome them?

The challenge for any business is to be able to anticipate consumer needs – and they’re changing fast – and then rapidly translate them into action. Its data turned into brand actions. Ultimately, a brand exists to help people; to meet a need; to solve a tension; to give them experiences they love. With people spending nearly five hours a day on their phones, they’re leaving a trail of digital crumbs that brands can piece together to create moment-specific offerings and experiences that can build lasting emotional connections. Yes, data matters, but action is king.

What digital new year’s resolution should people make this year?

The more hours you spend online, the better brands can anticipate your needs and take actions that delight you. But here’s the thing: in 2010, people spent an average of 24 minutes a day on their phones. By 2021, it skyrocketed to 4 hours and 23 minutes. That’s four hours lost from coffee with friends, visiting parents, fun with kids. So, while brands are eager to build relationships with us, let it never come at the cost of us building relationships with each other. Less screen time, that would be a great 2022 resolution.