WTM 2016: Build your brand as an experience to capture the connected generation

WTM 2016: Build your brand as an experience to capture the connected generation

Companies confuse iteration with innovation because they don’t ask how things can be done differently to meet customer needs, digital anthropologist Brian Solis told a WTM audience.

Giving a keynote at the annual travel trade show in London this week, Solis said there can be a “relevancy gap” in because firms are designing experiences for a world they don’t appreciate.

Solis has worked for the likes of Google in researching consumer behaviour which found mobile is evolving search activity online towards ‘micro-moments’ – short bursts of activity.

Solis said it was no use firms trying to fly in the face of how consumers are engaging in the digital world because they think it’s bad.

“This does not go backwards. It continues to progress and evolve. We want things to go faster. We continue to evolve.

“What we do starts to change based on how you evolve your relationship with technology. We have to design an experience for a world of which we do not appreciate.

“There is this relevancy gap. Experiences can be brought together by understanding what someone values. Look at other industries and ask why do they love this product.

“Even Google feels like they were about to be disrupted. All too often companies confuse iteration with innovation.

“That takes asking different questions. Maybe we are afraid to get the answers.”

Solis said it was this that Apple iTunes missed when it failed to spot the demand for a music sharing service like Spotify.

He said the Generation C – the ‘connected generation’ – are narcicists “because every tap is teaching them they are the most important person in the world”.

“Even Google feels like they were about to be disrupted. All too often companies confuse iteration with innovation.

“Iteration is doing the same things better, innovation is doing new things that unlock new value. Only one of those two things leads to disruption which is doing new things that make old things obsolete.

“All innovation does not happen overnight. It becomes a way of life. It’s difficult because not everyone around you wants to change. Some people may actually sabotage your efforts to change. Change really is hard but innovation really is something that has to start with you.

“We are not going to get there by being risk averse. Innovation starts with seeing things differently. All great investments reward taking risks. Yes it’s expensive but it’s less expensive than being out of business.”

“Experience is the new brand. No amount of branding is going to influence the experience someone has

Solis said depending on the culture in a company innovation can be either accelerated or constrained and the big challenge was accepting that you have something to learn.

“I have never met a company that’s said we’re not customer centric. But they’re not, they’re shareholder centric or process centric.

“This is digital transformation. The number one challenge is customer experience and a big part of that is customer journey mapping. What are the touch points?

“Someone who lives the digital lifestyle is absolutely not content with going through the traditional touchpoints.”

Solis cited US electronic car manufacturer Tesla as an example of a firm that not only adapted the product to meet emerging behaviours but the entire brand experience.

“The automative industry was content with following its course then along comes Tesla and says we are going to change not only what the car is but how you buy it and look after it.

“Tesla wanted to give an Apple experience. The natural response from the industry was to shoot it down, let’s not allow them to do this but the right response was what can we learn from this.

“At the same time Google was investing in driverless cars and the industry’s response was ‘that’s never going to be a thing’.

“But now we are seeing some of the greatest innovation in the automative industry because they were pushing the right buttons.”

Solis added: “Experience is the new brand. No amount of branding is going to influence the experience someone has.

“You are in the experience design business. That becomes the brand. We are becoming more picky, more ethereal. You cannot sell and talk and market like you used to. ”

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