The Internet of Things is making the traditional McKinsey customer journey model irrelevant, requiring a major shift in approach from brands, says J. Walker Smith, executive chairman of The Futures Company.
It’s time to rip up the marketing rule book. The representation of the customer journey, seen in the famous McKinsey model, is no longer going to be relevant.
Why? Because in the new programmatic era we’re entering, brands are no longer going to be selling to consumers. Instead, algorithms will be making the buying decisions.
Today, consumers are using technology to find and manage what they need in the marketplace and to navigate their lives. This rise of programmatic consumption is going to transform the relationship brands have with consumers along with their interactions with them.
Since the advent of the internet, the main way of interacting with technology has been through screens. But soon consumers won’t have to do any of that, as smart devices will do it for them. This will move the primary form of engagement from screens to sensors.
Pivot to passive digital
This shift of is something I like to call the ‘pivot to passive digital’, which is, in effect, a driverless car, but in every category – all part of the broader phenomenon we know as the Internet of Things.
This transforms the brand-consumer relationship, because it places algorithms in control. We’ve already been through marketers being in control – the old Mad Men days, while today, consumers are in control. But soon algorithms will rule.
“The whole notion of a consideration is set disappears as a metric – it doesn’t even make sense anymore”
Passive sensors are already taking over the consumer buying process, and soon it’s going to kick brands out of the buying process. This explosion of devices and objects with chips embedded in them is going to be navigated through the use of personal algorithmic assistance which, in effect, become brokers disintermediating brands from direct interaction with consumers.
Algorithms will evaluate the information we communicate moving forward. It will become an algorithm-to-algorithm world, with our algorithms putting a message in front of consumers, and their algorithms consuming the message and deciding how consumers respond through notifications, nudges and actual decisions.
That means this whole notion of a consideration set disappears as a metric – it doesn’t even make sense anymore.
So how will brands connect directly with consumers in this algorithm-led world?
Well, the algorithm may be able to buy stuff, but it can’t use it. That’s where brands can have an unmediated connection with consumers.
So while marketers will be increasingly disintermediated by algorithms and the ways in which they connect with consumers, there is an opportunity to build connections by delivering what people really want – and that is relationships with others. That ultimately means a new kind of business model; an economy that is based upon one critical thing: enabling people to connect with each other.
This is where social media will really come into its own. Brands currently try to use social media as if it were another vehicle to facilitate brand to consumer interactions. In fact, it was created to enable people to connect with other people.
Consumers want brands to facilitate and foster their ability to connect more and more with other people. They want brands to put social currency in their hands so they can spend on other people.
If brands do that, then in the new era of programmatic consumption, they can have the kind of connection that will be profitable on both sides of that equation.