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May 20, 2015
Adapting to Our On-Demand Culture
Technology breakthroughs plus ADD and constant information overload has transformed us into an on-demand society. Americans expect instant, everywhere, anytime access and immediate gratification. This is a cultural sea change for marketers, most of whom share the consumer psychology but haven’t yet applied it to their businesses.

We expect to be able to get, do, or be almost anything, whenever the idea strikes us. Limitless goods or services should be available or come automatically to us, reflecting our interests, needs, preferences, purchase histories, and personalities. The remarkable thing is, as documented in MDC Partners’ new report entitled “Popular By Demand,” that doctors, limos and taxis, movies, food delivery, house cleaners, dog walkers, and an array of other services actually deliver on this desire. The aggregation and synchronization of digital functionalities combined with real-time big data processing will make these conveniences and utilities increasingly more available, efficient, and embedded in our everyday lives.

“On demand” requires that consumers control everything. We select the products or services we want. We reject any bundle or package that we haven’t personally constructed. We pay only for what we want, what we use, or when we want or use it. We crave every deal, every efficiency, and every angle. Each choice is spontaneous or impromptu. We reject long-term connections, memberships, subscriptions, affiliations, or commitments unless there is a compelling incentive. Brand loyalty is earned, lost, and measured in nanoseconds.

This a-la-carte mentality comes with a side order of limited patience. Things must be fast, accurate, friendly, correct, working properly, flexible, and to our liking. We won’t wait long for anything, and we can broadcast satisfaction and praise or dissatisfaction and detailed complaints in two clicks anytime and from anywhere.

We are demanding, impatient consumers short on time, overwhelmed with stimuli, and desperate for anything that can be seamlessly incorporated into our social and mobile lifestyles to help us. We expect to use mobile devices as universal tools to manage our busy lives. Many on-demand concierge services are being delivered by mobile apps and many more are planned, as Geoffrey A. Fowler pointed out recently in The Wall Street Journal.

To respond to and leverage this on-demand psychology, consider three key tactics.

Build a Smorgasbord. Think about how your brand can display its assets day in and day out, across channels or devices, for maximum on-demand access, transparency, and utility. Tier offerings so consumers can assess value, choose to pay premium prices for premium services, and build their own packages. On-demand users are willing to pay an average of 14% more over traditional services. Dynamic pricing can also focus on peak times, limited offerings, unique styles, heightened services, or perishability.

Imagine your customers eagerly working their way around a brimming smorgasbord table and emerging with bulging plates. Put the sweet or savory lures, with high margin potential, front and center. Then monitor and measure uptake.

When I worked with Dell in the 1990s, the brand differentiator and value proposition was to build your own computer. But after analyzing thousands of transactions, we discovered that 70% of consumers built the same computer. Use on-demand behavior to anticipate and mirror consumer needs, reduce buying friction, re-position brands, and expedite customer delight.

Address Chronic Shortages. Nobody has enough time, money, energy, insight, convenience, or patience. The study found that convenience, luxury, and need are three prominent on-demand drivers. Position and structure your brand offerings to answer these unmet needs. Create comparisons. Do the math for your prospects. Merchandise features and benefits in terms of alleviating consumer pain points. Be faster, easier, more available, more intuitive, or more valuable. Be explicit in explaining how your brand delivers the extras that consumers crave.

Connect the Dots. Link your on-demand offerings with others to mirror how people think, act, and shop. Uber has linked with TripAdvisor, United Airlines, Hyatt Hotels, and Open Table to create a service-oriented ecosystem that anticipates and cross-promotes the full range of travel needs. Use APIs and social log-ins to connect data sets and enable one-click access.

GPS Shopper CEO Alex Muller emphasizes the importance of proximity, personalization, and responsiveness to increase revenue and enhance the customer experience. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Figure out what products and services logically and practically fit together. Then build a brand-centered network to deliver them.

On demand is the new normal. It’s not going away. In fact, the pressure to deliver more and more things on demand will grow exponentially as bandwidth and technology become faster, more universal, and sophisticated. Brands that don’t recognize this fundamental attitudinal shift and address it directly will be left in the dust.

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Danny Flamberg, EVP Managing Director of Digital Strategy and CRM at Publicis based in New York, has been building brands and building businesses for more than 30 years.Prior to joining Publicis, he led a successful global consulting group called Booster Rocket, as Managing Partner. Before becoming a consultant, he was Vice President of Global Marketing at SAP, SVP and Managing Director at Digitas in New York and Europe and President of Relationship Marketing at Amiratti Puris Lintas and Lowe Worldwide.
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