Making Meaningful Customer Connections in a New Era

The pandemic has redefined how customers interact with brands. Marketing best practices must change in step.

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Connecting With Customers in the Age of Acceleration

The pandemic forced companies to speed digital transformation and adapt to a virtual world. Customers are now rewarding those that offer the best experiences and engage authentically. To succeed in the next era, businesses and marketers must meet new expectations and build new strategies and skills.

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A century ago, after a global pandemic upended the global economy, the rebound that followed produced enormous growth, consumerism, and technological advancement in a decade that’s still referred to as the Roaring ’20s. As the world recovers from our own once-in-a-lifetime-pandemic, businesses and leaders must now adapt to the changes made in the past two years to deliver on new customer expectations in the next era — one that is being defined by accelerated transformation.

One of the pandemic’s most consistent features across sectors has been its ability to accelerate existing trends by decades in a matter of just weeks or months. Take e-commerce, which for the past two decades had grown 1% annually and represented 16% of U.S. retail at the beginning of 2020. Two months into the outbreak of the pandemic in the U.S., that number had grown to 27%. Lockdowns and social distancing accelerated digital transformation as companies adapted to delivering products and services to customers virtually.

The forced digital catch-up across industries brought about increased accessibility, ease of use, and connection for customers. In addition to fast-forwarded digital trends, customers and society have also experienced rapid change during this period. Socially conscious values, which had been an increasing focal point among customers for years, have also become a key issue in the pandemic, with customers gaining a greater sense of power in holding organizations to account for their brand purpose and values.

Many of the more successful brands throughout the crisis have been the ones able to leverage data and adapt according to shifting customer behavior and expectations. In a new MIT SMR Executive Guide, “Connecting With Customers in the Age of Acceleration,” experts in marketing, branding, and digital transformation offer insights and practical resources for managers.

In the series, authors Kimberly Whitler and Raj Venkatesan, professors at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business, examine how marketing leaders can craft a better data and analytics approach to critical business problems. Elsewhere in the series, Sara Wilson looks at the rise of micro-communities within social platforms as an opportunity for investment and growth when it comes to community engagement and brand resilience. Other articles in the series will explore topics such as rethinking pre-pandemic customer assumptions, communicating brand purpose effectively and authentically with customers, and engaging with new technologies to enhance the customer experience.

The series launches Nov. 29. Sign up to be reminded when new articles from the Executive Guide launch, and in the meantime, explore recent articles on customer experience and branding.

Topics

Connecting With Customers in the Age of Acceleration

The pandemic forced companies to speed digital transformation and adapt to a virtual world. Customers are now rewarding those that offer the best experiences and engage authentically. To succeed in the next era, businesses and marketers must meet new expectations and build new strategies and skills.

Brought to you by:

Brightcove
More in this series

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Comment (1)
Renju Philip
That is a huge growth, but to understand this further we need to categorise it as to whether this is an incremental growth or is it a behavioural change. Also does this mean if this change goes on to retain or will it fade away. Will these changes result it further changes and if so what areas , to further on that  what areas of digital expertise business needs to further this growth.