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In an ‘Always On’ environment opportunities for brands to disrupt the consumer journey are rife. However, the new challenge for forward-thinking brands is to transform disruption into ‘anti-disruption’ to ensure they do not hinder an increasingly streamlined consumer experience.

Historically disruptive advertising has been about interrupting the consumer experience, interjecting brand messages powerful enough to divert their attention and change their behaviour. Brands would ‘cut in’ with messages purposefully designed to stand out and be different from the environment in which they appeared. But that was before big data, before brands really knew their audience and before consumers could ‘skip’ ads.

Frustratingly for brands the rise in ad blocking has become an every day setback. To overcome this barrier and engage with consumers who demand and expect a seamless experience brands need to tackle two key challenges.

Firstly, brands must become considerably more relevant to their target audience. The future of advertising is for brands to complement the consumer journey and to be more aligned with the needs and wants of their audience.

Secondly, brands themselves must become synonymous with technologies that deliver more streamlined experiences. They must embrace and deploy technology designed to simplify the customer journey and they must take responsibility for convincing consumers to get on board too.

One area of opportunity for brand engagement is Mobile Payment. By 2025 the average UK adult will make 54 payments a month, 14 of which will be contactless.(1) By piggybacking on the growing success of simplified payment mechanics and directly contributing to the rise of mobile payment through incentives such as loyalty benefits, vouchers and discounts brands will gain traction and connect with tech-savvy shoppers.

For example, in 2016 Mastercard delighted London commuters with a promotion offering ‘Fare Free Mondays’ to people who used Apple Pay linked to a Mastercard reimbursement for travel costs up to £28. Unsurprisingly, the campaign was a big hit.

In streamlining the shopper journey Amazon Go took convenience to the next level with their example of ‘invisible’ digital technology. The checkout free shop uses proximity sensors, cameras and an app to automatically charge purchases to customers’ accounts. This groundbreaking innovation means shoppers can literally bag their favourite brands and go.

Also positively received by brands and shoppers alike has been the introduction of Click and Collect. This non disruptive experience shows no sign of waning with Click and Collect expenditure expected to grow by 64% between 2016 and 2021.(2) One way in which brands could explore this rich vein of opportunity, making their products more accessible and connecting with time poor consumers, is to affiliate themselves with retailers who strongly promote Click and Collect.

Ikea recently recognised that Click and Collect could provide the solution to their problem of finding land large enough to accommodate its huge stores. By creating purpose built, smaller Click and Collect stores Ikea made their products and their brand more accessible to more consumers.

Click and Collect collaboration will make the service even more convenient and enterprising brands and retailers have realised that working together will help them improve the customer experience. For example, Asos shoppers can now collect online fashion orders at selected Boots pharmacies and retailers John Lewis and Argos have launched dedicated click-and-collect stores at rail stations.

Here are four ‘anti-disruptive’ ways that brands can utilise digital innovation to build brand engagement and streamline the consumer experience:

1. Native advertising – A great way for brands to gain exposure whilst not annoying the consumer. Purposefully designed to be less disruptive and in contrast to banner ads and page takeovers, native advertising fits within the context of the website. Rather than distracting the consumer the ads actually enhance the seamless experience with content designed to be more informative and helpful, rather than sales orientated.

2. Permission Marketing – By directly asking for permission brands demonstrate respect for their customers. Those who answer “yes” are fundamentally more interested in engaging with your brand and therefore more receptive to your messages. However, brands have quickly learnt to use powerful incentives to gain permission, such as first order discounts or subscribing to updates and offers.

3. Personalisation – Consumers expect brands to be highly engaging and offer them personalised content directly. When you know the individual you’re speaking to, why they are online, and in what context your ad will sit you can tailor the message to be more complementary than disruptive.

4. Partnership – creating ‘added value’ alliances can offer consumers insightful, more beneficial and more streamlined brand experiences. One example was Budweiser and Uber’s recent ‘Get Home Safe’ campaign. Teaming up to launch a responsible drinking campaign, Budweiser offered their drinkers a ‘lift home on them’ with an online booking code that entitled them to £15 off an Uber cab home on Christmas Eve.

Disruptive marketing has evolved. To reflect the consumer demand for a more streamlined experience traditional disruption tactics have been replaced by more insightful, more targeted and more beneficial ‘invisible’ interruptions.

Statistic sources:

(1) By 2025 the average UK adult will make 54 payments a month, 14 of which will be contactless (at the expense of cash payments, which will drop from 27 to 17 by 2025)

(2) Click and Collect expenditure is expected to grow by 64% between 2016 and 2021

Source: Verdict Retail’s Channel Series report: Click & Collect in the UK 2016

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