We all know that the digital revolution has completely transformed the way consumers are interacting with brands and that a lot of businesses are finding it hard to catch up. The gap between consumer behaviour and brand experience is wide.

The key to closing that gap is constant innovation and the lifespan of a business decreases if innovation is not a key strategic priority.

KPMG’s ‘Global CEO Report’, out in August this year, told us that fostering innovation is one of the top (21%) strategical priorities for CEOs over the next three years, and a significant majority of the surveyed CEOs (77%) said it was important to specifically include innovation in the business strategy, with clear targets and objectives.

However, innovation being a catch phrase versus being a business priority are two vastly different things, and it can often be a difficult step to implement.

My advice is that the work must start with understanding the new and emerging consumer that I call the ‘Entrepreneurial Consumer’ and then building innovations around them.

How do you recognise the Entrepreneurial Consumer?

The Entrepreneurial Consumer is emerging from two main demographic tribes — mums and Millennials.

It may seem inconsistent at first glance but these consumers both believe in the following five things:

  1. They believe they are always chasing time and they love brands and businesses that help them grab this time back.
  2. They believe in the new and shiny and are desperate for regular inspiration.
  3. They believe in and adopt new technology quickly because it makes life easy.
  4. They believe in their community and not only ask for advice but rely on them for life’s essentials.
  5. They believe that they never have to pay over the odds. Negotiating a better deal is part of their conversation with businesses.

The next step is to understand what these beliefs mean in your business and your category. If you run a bank, how do you help your Entrepreneurial Consumer grab time back or work
with a community to help them make decisions? If you manufacture a FMCG product, how do you provide regular inspiration that helps these consumers make food or drink decisions? As the CEO of a retail business, how do you enable the business to utilise or build new technology that links a digital experience with a physical one?

The first step is to immerse yourselves in what makes this consumer tick, what drives them, what they expect from you, what is missing from their lives and what are the current points of friction with your brand experience.

What are other businesses doing to get ready for the Entrepreneurial Consumer?

The businesses that are responding well to this emerging consumer through innovation are focusing on 4 main areas:

  1. The first one I would suggest you tackle is overcoming moments of friction in your customer and brand experience. With so much choice and alternatives available, these moments can be incredibly disruptive. As an example, Suncorp Insurance has established a partnership with Trov in the Australian market. Trov is an app that allows you to keep a record of all your possessions and their value. The ultimate goal for Suncorp was to find a way for customers to upload their belongings and keep a summary of the value, which traditionally had been a laborious and time-consuming task.
  2. Once you overcome these moments of friction, go back through that brand experience to work out how you can actually make some of these interactions even easier. Acorns is an app and financial service that helps you invest money. All you need to do is tell them how much you want to invest on a monthly basis and how much you want to round up to on everyday purchases. Acorns then does the rest, and attracted 100,000 Australian users in six months.
  3. The third thing that few companies are getting right yet, but the Entrepreneurial Consumer is demanding, is proper personalisation. What is the point of Big Data if it can’t provide your customers with a better experience? The Witchery business has implemented a great program — after you buy your item from a store, you receive an email that says thank you for your purchase and a summary of other items that go with your purchase. Brilliant!
  4. With the immediacy of the digital world changing people’s expectations on time, business must find ways of operating in real time. Solving people’s problems quickly is a key indicator of good customer experience and answering questions quickly can make a big difference to customers’ perception of your business. Best Buys in the US developed Twelpforce — a pre-validated list of store assistants to answer Twitter responses during their down time in store.

Whether it’s being smart about your excessive capacity or setting personalisation goals for your Big Data, businesses need to get ready for the Entrepreneurial Consumer who is emerging as a direct result of the ‘Digital Transformation’.

Their behaviours and beliefs mean that each CEO needs to be thinking about them and innovating around the brand experience.