Rethinking Consumer Engagement: Engaging the Whole Employee
Understanding the consumer engagement continnum to effectively engage consumers according to their needs and preferences.
The consumer journey is the full set of experiences a consumer has when interacting with an organization and its products or services. Experience maps are a tool that enable a product or service developer to view the interactions with a product or service from the perspective of the user across the following stages: needs assessment, researching, choosing, buying, using and even post product or service usage.
Before creating experience maps, it is important to holistically understand the consumer and assess where on the engaging continuum a consumer exists based on their whole consumer profile. We suggest that when creating the whole consumer profile, beyond demographics, psychological factors, social-cultural factors, as well as life experiences will determine consumer product or service needs and expectations for engagement. Specific expectations for engagement will be driven by attitudes and general beliefs, perception of self and peers, motivators, capacity for learning, cultural cues, social networks and connections to influencers, as well as past experiences with similar products or services.
An understanding of the whole consumer can better suggest the appropriate engagement strategy and level of engagement expected. One engagement strategy alone will not suffice across the varied segments of consumers. An entire continuum of engagement strategies exist based on consumer preferences: from the fully engaged consumer to the indifferent consumer. For the purposes of this article, we will focus on the engaged consumer, the seeker consumer, the practical, and cautious consumer.
The Engaged Consumer
The engaged consumer is actively involved in needs management and may often lead the demand for and possible design of products or services.
This consumer indicates that "I actively read about new products or services and try to understand what products or services will best meet my needs. If given the opportunity, I would participate in the co-design of new products or services with consumer peers and product developers."
The Seeker Consumer The seeker is among the first to learn and seek information about new products or services.
This consumer indicates that "I actively read about products or services and seek opportunities to try something new. For me, trying something novel begins a new and interesting journey for me and often my peers as I share my opinions within my peer circles."
The Practical Consumer
The practical consumer will be interested in a comparative analysis of alternative products or services. This consumer will seek a solution once it has established itself in the marketplace.
This consumer indicates that "For me it is important to read about and compare products and services. Function, quality and price across products or services are important parameters. I tend to wait to adopt until a solution is well established in the market and when key opinion leaders and reviews have emerged."
The Cautious Consumer
The cautious consumer may wait to learn from other consumer experiences before seeking out a particular solution.
This consumer indicates that "I wait to adopt a new product or service and tend to listen to the opinion of others i.e. from own my peer circle. I tend to need encouragement and support to adopt a new product or service from developers, retailers or my peers."
Having read about these consumers, try this short exercise to begin to match consumers with the most effective engagement strategy. While certainly the issues are more complex as a function of product or service, this quick exercise will enable you to capture a few of the engagement nuances as a function of consumer type.
Exercise: The goal is to match the consumers with the appropriate engagement strategy. Specifically, connect the previous consumer profiles with the best choice on how and when to engage. Consider the choices made and how these consumers can be engaged across the full journey including: when in the product or service development process consumers can be engaged, the level of engagement desired, information sharing strategies, channels and format.
Consider across key product or service categories how you might engage your consumers.
Begin by creating a whole consumer profile.
What factors could actually drive product or service adoption?
Are these factors internal to the consumer or driven by external influences?
How might you influence the product or service adoption process through effective engagement strategy design?
When should the needed connections to the consumer be created?
How will consumers across varied segments want to engage with your organization, product or service?
What information sharing strategies will you use to engage with the consumer? In what format and across what channels?
What expectations will the consumer have for engagement post product or service adoption?
Reflect on how effective engagement strategies can be used to drive consumer behaviour change with respect to product or service adoption, and ultimately product or service usage.
Ultimately, how you engage your consumers will not only determine product or service adoption, but also the brand image your organization develops in the minds of these consumers. Consumer expectations are high, that is, for organizations that are transparent and demonstrate that they geniunely care about the whole life welfare of their consumers.