When you take time out to better understand the consumer you tend to create a more internally and externally aligned match, if done right it delivers a closer fit with what your offering to the consumer.
As a result your business becomes more productive, relevant, and profitable.
Sounds obvious doesn't it?
Over the last 25 years eCommerce has changed the global retail landscape, and for many upended the 20th Century retail model that some still cling onto.
Yet, today the majority of eCommerce players in the west are still operating with a 'funnel' mindset - and in my opinion they are missing a huge opportunity.
Over the past decade, China’s ACG (Anime, Comic and Games) subculture has gone increasingly mainstream, emerging as one of the most important channels for reaching millennial and Gen Z consumers.
If you have teenagers stop, take a look, and a serious listen to how they are behaving during this pandemic - they might be your kids but these are not just the future of retail opportunity. They and others like them are today's way out of what was.
They don't just want to be taken down an eCommerce 'funnel', they demand more and those companies that deliver are going to be the winners.
One of the key hallmarks of China’s ACG community is that those who identify as enthusiasts spend a lot of time online.
For example, Bilibili users spent an average of nearly 110 minutes per day on the platform between January 24 and February 2 of this year, when China’s Covid-19 outbreak kept millions indoors for extended quarantines.
As of June 2020, the platform had nearly 172 million average monthly active users and 12.9 million paid subscribers, and thanks to recent deals like Sony’s purchase of nearly 5% of Bilibili in April 2020, the platform will have a steady supply of anime and online gaming content to keep its millions-strong user base entertained for the foreseeable future.
Every hour of every day we continue to see headlines of yet more retailers calling in the administrators. Some might argue these were weak business prior to this crisis and that they are now simply experiencing what would have happened anyway.
This sentiment might be harsh and for some it's very true. But let's not forget the human impact on even more job losses and the related connected supply chain involved.
At one time in history we (the UK) were described as a nation of shopkeepers, a nation that beguiled our european counterparts with our willingness to stand in line and form an orderly queue - which for most simply meant maintaining our distance, being respectful and a chance for a social catch up.
Today every single business has the opportunity to go back to the drawing board and invent the user experience, both in the digital and physical world.
Retailers have had to make some real tough decisions to temporarily close either all or some of their stores, leading to furloughed employees and strained financials. In some cases, the choice is out of retailers' hands.
Clearly there are no silver bullets and we can only pray for a vaccine to arrive soon.
I also totally get that the immediate priority for many businesses is looking to remain in survival mode for some considerable time to come.
Companies whose revenues have been decimated by lack of income and have the ability to get through this have no option but to become fiscally tighter.
Consumers are doing something similar in fear of losing jobs, homes, and livelihoods so they're postponing discretionary spend of any kind - it's all filtering through to the worldwide economic infrastructure we once thought was impenetrable.
"The reality is that other people will behave exactly the same as you and me".
Social Media is no longer an extension of your customer service department.
How about using that training to activate at least 10% of the aggregated workforce to give a non brand police view of the really good reasons to work and shop at each of these companies?
All this training can be done remotely, it can be done today using all those technologies you are using to keep staff motivated, inform suppliers and ensure you continue to be front of mind for your clients and customers.
Once you look in the mirror and accept that change is constant, and what worked yesterday won't work today - then maybe, just maybe you can truly start to change and grow.
Louis Vuitton, too, branched into the ACG world via a well-received collaboration with League of Legends last year, while Dior featured virtual influencer Xuefei Nova in a cyberpunk film that blended the real and animated worlds. It’s only a matter of time before more luxury giants start chasing the rising spending power of China’s ACG enthusiasts, taking a cue from the FMCG brands that paved the way.