Disruptive Change Spells Opportunity for Clients & Agencies Alike

October 29, 2018

I recently wrote about how excited I was to join PRS IN VIVO, at a moment in which the insights industry is experiencing disruptive change. Disruption, counterintuitively, brings huge opportunity, especially for those with historical competency in marketing science and legacy success supporting clients in responding to complex business problems. But the “table stakes” in the next generation of insights industry leaders will also be the agility to harness technology, respond to constantly disrupted market conditions, as well as create new innovations that accurately predict and guide consumer behavior.

Disruptive change isn’t only confined to insights agencies though. Our clients, within their own sectors selling everyday groceries to high-end electronics, are also adapting to substantial changes in the ways people shop and buy. This in turn has placed the spotlight on corporate insight functions, who now must deliver not only behavioral insights, but also real life results and outcomes.

Let’s first examine the new paradigms influencing how consumers shop and buy, which has placed our clients, within their own sectors, under such a clear transformation imperative. Last week, I was fortunate to speak at the Online & Digital Grocery Summit in Chicago where manufacturer brands and retailers shared stories of the forces that are disrupting how their brands go to market and fight to win share. A few key learnings:

  1. Omni-channel is here. Massive overlap exists between how consumers shop and prepare to shop in different channels: shopping in the physical store, “click and collect”, ordering and re-ordering via apps, or ordering for home delivery. The conventional shopper attribution model is becoming glaringly opaque.
  2. Grocery manufacturers are searching for a profitable e-commerce model. Such a model must work in different geographies, as well as in the context of partnering with Amazon, for whom only Walmart has the size and clout to compete at scale. This is why the e-commerce share of grocery sales has lagged other categories.
  3. Yet not investing for a digital future is not an option. As Amazon moves in on brick and mortar, the opportunity that could be disrupted is VAST – the US grocery market is $800bn annually versus approximately $15bn for books and $180bn for electronics. Manufacturers must invest for the future they know is coming, even if they don’t yet have a profitable e-commerce sales model.
  4. Change will accelerate further. Peapod, the digital grocery retailer, estimated that within 5 years, 50% of e-commerce searches will derive from voice. IoT assistants today respond to instruction like “Alexa, I need to add orange juice and tissues to my grocery order” without reference to brands, reflecting new consumer preferences where convenience supersedes brand loyalty.

Business disruption, within our clients’ sectors, has in turn placed the spotlight on corporate insight functions. In a world where understanding consumer choice represents an enduring competitive advantage and access to consumers is being democratized by technology, corporate insights departments are increasingly being tasked not only with collecting and uncovering insight into customer behavior but also applying this knowledge to deliver real-world results and outcomes.

The principles of behavioral science are increasingly well-known and accepted by most client organizations, even if the degree to which still widely used legacy tools reflect and embrace the contradictions we now assume in human behaviors varies. Experience has also now proven behavioral research to be a potent and reliable tool for predicting consumers’ choices, even as disruption is impacting how they engage with brands. This makes behavioral science a great foundation that strategists, marketers and insights departments can harness to deliver the real world results and outcomes their organizations expect.

On November 7th and 8th, the annual US IIeX Behavior conference is taking place in Chicago. Over 300 marketing and insights practitioners are assembling to learn more about the shift from academic theory in behavioral science to commercial applicability. It is a welcome shift, because client strategists, their insights departments and their agency partners need these behavioral tools more than ever, to achieve real business results in the age of disruption. We will report the learnings from the event in future posts and are always happy to talk to you about influencing consumer choice and delivering real-world results for your own brand!

THE AUTHOR

Based in New York, Alex has a track record of applying behavioral science in practical ways to predict behavior and support advertisers, brands and companies solve their growth challenges. Alex recently joined PRS IN VIVO as their global Chief Revenue Officer. In this role, Alex has the responsibility for driving commercial strategy, marketing, sales and client growth across the organization. An enthusiast for the power and potential of the insights function to fuel business growth, Alex is a regular public speaker at industry events and business schools.

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