Ken Hughes’ seven keys to meet the high demands of today’s customer

November 2, 2021

During the third and final webinar organized by the sectorial brand ChilePork, the globally renowned expert in brand and consumer behavior and advisor to large international companies provided the keys and recommendations to satisfy the current post Covid consumer. Today, Thursday, October 29th at 10:00 a.m. in Japan and South Korea (10:00 p.m. on Wednesday […]

During the third and final webinar organized by the sectorial brand ChilePork, the globally renowned expert in brand and consumer behavior and advisor to large international companies provided the keys and recommendations to satisfy the current post Covid consumer.

Today, Thursday, October 29th at 10:00 a.m. in Japan and South Korea (10:00 p.m. on Wednesday in Chile), Ken Hughes, regarded as one of the world’s leading authorities in consumer and online buyer behavior, provided valuable and relevant information in his talk called: “How do we sell and eat in the so-called ‘new normal”‘, which was the third and last in a 3-webinar series organized by the sectorial brand ChilePork and the support of ProChile, the Chilean Exports Promotion Bureau. The goal was to keep contact with trading partners in both Asian countries, and provide them with tools to facilitate decision-making in this new African swine fever and post Covid scenario.

During the 50 minutes of his presentation, Ken Hughes, advisor to major international brands and TED speaker, kept the audience engaged in his message, thanks to explanatory videos, and forecasts for the future market.

He began his presentation by presenting the idea that: “We are going through a time of change that is very exciting for consumers. Even though it has been a difficult year, the opportunities to come together and be creative during the pandemic have been enormous,” he said.

The captive economy: What will happen in the post-Covid consumer era?

 The B2B and B2C world markets and their various industries have never been more influenced by the values of the current consumer and the enormous changes we are witnessing, according to Hughes. “Disruptive changes are certainly fascinating; like the technological changes of the last 10 years, but now with the pandemic we have political, economic, and social change all pressing down,” he said.

Today, those who stand still, go backwards,” he said. “Because the various forces pressing down are too strong. It is time to open our eyes and be the agents of our own change,” he said. In order to do so, connections and relationships are key. How each brand connects with consumers as well as using technology right, because ultimately, the human factor will always prevail.

Then, he gave an outlook of the 6 generations that must be satisfied and that define current marketing: traditional over 80, baby boomers, Gen X, Millennials, Gen Z, and now the Alpha generation. “It is not easy to satisfy them all at the same time, but it is possible!”, he encouraged.

How fast things move and how irrelevant a business can become, was another one of the ideas he elaborated on. “Look at these children, who were born with technology, with things being instantaneous.” He made an analogy to music: Baby boomers listened to vinyl records, Gen X cassette tapes (“mobile music for the first-time on Walkmans,” as he said), Millennials on CDs (the digital revolution), and today Gen X uses Spotify, “where they can stream all the music they want. And this will continue to change,” he said.

Examples like this, or the evolution from Blockbuster to Netflix, show just how quickly everything goes and how irrelevant a business can become overnight, he explained. “Today, all industries are in a race to stay relevant, to satisfy the consumer as the focus,” he said.

“It was in this context, where everyone born after 1991 is a digital native and people in general are highly digitized, that the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted the whole world. Streets were empty, families were dealing with kids and work, but the world was still very productive,” he said. “Creative ideas came from everywhere; a small petting zoo makes more money than it ever did before in 2020 because it created something new: At Zoom meetings, an animal shows up to greet the attendees. It was an idea that went viral,” he said. “Or a ‘vertical concert’ held with the audience located at the terraces of a hotel. It was a win-win-win, the hotel, the concert production, and the audience won”, he pointed out. He also highlighted some clever ideas to maintain social distancing in restaurants (from mannequins to teddy bears sitting on the chairs that cannot be occupied). “With creativity, you can always be successful,” he emphasized.

The 7 keys to satisfying customers today

Through appealing images and specific examples, Ken Hughes explained the 7 keys or values that keep customers loyal and happy today.

Instantaneity

Today’s consumer expects all interactions to be immediate. “Now is good, but even before I know what I need is better,” he said. The key is to be predictive, to anticipate. A good example is the one from Amazon Instant in the United States: “They offer delivering the products that college students use the most in their lockers 4 minutes after ordering them,”  he said.

Flexibility

Hughes talked about the changes in the rules of the game, and how today they make consumers what he calls: “the blue dot consumer,” because of the blue dot that shows people’s locations on online maps. He explained that a few decades ago -when people used real maps- the map was the world and people needed to navigate it. “Today, people are the center of the map. They are the blue dot and the map moves around the user,” he explained. The clearest example of this new paradigm is Uber, as he pointed out, where the car goes to the user. Or Booster, an app available in some countries, where a fuel truck comes to the user, fills the tank, and leaves.

“Ask yourselves: do you put the customer at the center of your business? Are they the blue dot?”

Expectations

“The experience must meet or exceed expectations,” he said. Today, the customer knows they are in the center, and modern brands treat them so and therefore, “their expectations must be met, and in the best way possible,” he declared.

Keep it personal

“We are working with Generation Me,” he said. Selfies dominate the world and brands want to treat people in the most personalized way possible. After users live experiences like that, they do not take anything else, it does not satisfy them. This is why “transactional commerce has to become relational, and you must treat all your customers as if they were the only one,” he said.

Authenticity

Hughes noted that there is a competition to be different and authentic. He quoted the novelist Terry Pratchett, who said: “Do you not know that a man is not dead while his name is still spoken?” That is why he stressed that today, the culture of each company, the brand storytelling is vital. “Find a new way to make a difference, to be genuine and authentic, to go beyond the commodity market. What have you done to get customers tell the story of your brand?,” he left that question open.

Experience

“You don’t need a drill; you need a hole. So, what do you sell? You don’t sell Coca-Cola, you sell happiness. Ask yourselves what you sell,” he said.

He also stressed the importance of keeping in mind that a few decades ago people use to value themselves for what they owned (clothes, cars, possessions). Today, they are valued for the experiences they live. If these experiences are shared with others, then they have value. For example: going to a gym vs. running a Color Run. “Are you providing your customer with a shareable experience?,” he asked the audience.

Emotional engagement

Hughes explained how to form relationships with customers, by offering empathy, and most importantly, compassion. This means doing something as a brand to solve their problems. “All the emotions you feel in a relationship, you want to feel when relating with brands: admiration, humor, affection, emotion,” he said.

Finally, he talked about the opportunity today’s uncertainty presents: “More than ever, customers are waiting for you to connect with them and offer them a solution, because this year uncertainty and fear have taken over. See them in their most human side and imagine how to reach them,” he said. Hughes thanked the presence of people from different parts of the world and invited them all to visit his website at www.kenhughes.info/blog.

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