Social network usage is already at nearly 90 percent in key demographic groups – the opportunity is huge. Unlike other trends, the digital consumer group is more behavioral than demographic. It has a loose correlation to Millennial generation. Young people are increasingly biased toward using technology in commerce. There is an even heavier behavioral correlation. A growing segment of our population is becoming more and more accustomed to technology-enabled commerce. This is an evolution, not a trend. There is no going back – and the changes are accelerating.
Americans spend an average of 11 hours a day connected to media! This is the average adult, not just teenagers or internet geeks. Social media is powerful because it allows access to consumer masses – ideally leveraging their networks and credibility to re-broadcast the message.
Social is earned media – more powerful and credible because it can’t be bought. Think about the purchasing decisions you make – would you be more likely to be influenced by our friends telling you that they love a product and recommend it for you or a celebrity posing with the product? Image is important, so celebrity endorsements are here to stay. Advice from friends has always been around and has always been powerful. But it’s only now, through social, that its potential is being unlocked.
Social media is enabling individuals to easily tap into the collective wisdom of their trusted personal networks. For instance, you could always ask a bunch of friends what music they’re listening to in order to discover new music you might like – but you’d literally have to call each one individually, tell them the genre you’re interested in, etc. It is too time-consuming to be practical. Consumers look to Pandora stations, Spotify playlists, Facebook music “likes,” etc to discover new music. Social is becoming more and more powerful as a source of credible information for consumers looking to make informed purchase decisions. And that’s why this matters so much.
Retailers are already recognizing this and pursuing it. Broadcast advertising isn’t what it used to be. Consumers are too fragmented and typically demand to actively participate in the conversation. They aren’t interested in sitting back passively and being broadcasted to; so businesses are increasingly relying on social to get their messages across and keep the conversations going.
There are huge marketing applications for the vending channel –
- Coupons – digital type, automatically redeemed through scan or tap.
- Locations – using smartphone to find what they’re looking for. This isn’t necessarily a specific outlet (e.g., McDonald’s). It could also be a category or even just a deal (e.g., use Scoutmob to find a restaurant deal near me).
- Product reviews and pricing – for vending this could be nutritional information or brand-associated programs (e.g., Olympics or other linked marketing asset)
- Loyalty – must be automatic and easy. No punch cards. CVS does this well, we’re rolling out a Coke MCR-based loyalty program that combines credit for home case purchases and vends for redemption at venders as well as through the MCR website.
- Currency – tons of activity here. There is a big opportunity for vending is to leapfrog. We have the chance to take 2-3 steps at a time (by upgrading once to a device that accepts cards, NFC, and mobile app payments like Paypal).
- Social – share feedback on experiences and the choices that they’re making. Consumers are looking for increased “groupthink” validation for the decisions that they’re making.