Unlocking Business Success: 5 Key Trends in 2024 to Succeed Your Customer-First Strategy

As we debut the second half of the year, the ever-evolving landscape of customer experience (CX) is making business success even more challenging than usual. Are you finding this too? If so, then I have some ideas to help.

We already know that businesses that embrace a customer-first strategy successfully lead their markets by driving growth from increased loyalty. To continue benefiting from this customer-centric approach, it is important to understand what has changed in 2024 and how companies should react to their customers’ ever-changing demands.

 

Business Success in 2024: The Key Trends

Here are the key trends of 2024 and some questions you may already be asking yourself about them. If not, then perhaps you should.

As always, I share my ideas and examples to help you make any changes you decide are needed.

 

AI-Driven Personalization:

What is it? AI-driven personalization leverages artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze vast customer data and deliver highly customized experiences.

It is important because it enables businesses to anticipate customer needs and offer tailored recommendations, enhancing the customer experience and driving business success.

Example: eBay’s new magical listing tool uses artificial intelligence to extrapolate details about listings from images. As a result, sellers can list items easily, and buyers can access more information about potential purchases. (Source)

 

Data Privacy and Trust:

What is it? Ensuring customer data is handled with transparency and robust security measures.

With increasing regulatory scrutiny and customer awareness, businesses must build and maintain trust by protecting their customers’ information, which is vital for ongoing business success.

Example: To sustain their customers’ trust, companies should communicate clearly about data usage and adopt stringent security protocols to prevent data breaches.

 

Omnichannel Experiences:

What is it? Providing a seamless and integrated customer experience across multiple online and offline channels.

Customers expect consistent interactions and a unified experience, regardless of the channel they are using. This can enhance both their satisfaction and loyalty.

Example: Airbnb offers 24/7 support through various channels, ensuring customers receive timely assistance regardless of the platform they use. (Source)

 

Ethical AI:

What is it? Using AI responsibly and transparently avoids perpetuating biases and helps to maintain customer trust.

Ethical AI practices are essential for building long-term, trust-based customer relationships and ongoing loyalty.

Example: Businesses must be open about how they use AI in customer interactions and take steps to mitigate any negative impacts.

 

Empathy at Scale:

What is it? Combining AI-driven automation with human empathy enables your customer service team to handle complex customer issues more effectively.

This approach ensures that customers feel valued and understood, even when interacting with automated systems, contributing to continued customer satisfaction.

Example: Using AI to address simpler queries frees human agents to provide empathetic support for more complicated issues. It is also usually speedier, which customers appreciate.


Are you following trends? If so, do you turn them into plausible future scenarios? If not, you are missing an

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Navigate a Challenging Business Environment and Stay Ahead of Your Competition

When facing a challenging business environment, which these days is true for almost every industry, companies don’t always have the time to make considered decisions. Agility has become a much-needed skill.

So, how can companies be better prepared for whatever the future holds? 

Agility needs preparation and with this in mind, most major organisations conduct some sort of societal trend following in the hope that they will correctly “guess” what might happen. You may be one of them. So it might surprise you that I believe this is a huge mistake, especially if you think that trends alone will better prepare your organisation!

Think about it. Most companies follow the same trends, attend the same trend “shows” & conferences, and get the same or at least very similar reports.

This results in them all working on the same ideas and concepts, and eventually launching very similar products and services or campaigns, that struggle to compete effectively.

Have you never wondered why suddenly everyone is talking about a certain topic, using similar slogans, or launching equivalent offers? Now you know why!

Here’s how to avoid this and develop a powerful competitive advantage.

 

Market Evidence

I want to start by sharing just one example of the problem I just mentioned. A few years ago, we started seeing many companies using the idea of “YES” and “NO” in their advertising. In Europe, these included:

  • The Swiss Migros Bank: see the videos here – only in French & German, I’m afraid but still easy to understand whatever language you speak.
  • Coke’s “Say Yes to Love” campaign.
  • Coke say yes to love

 

  • BMW 320i  Campaign YES YOU CAN

 

These are just three examples from very different industries, but I’m sure there are many others in your own country. (If so, please share the example in the comments below.)

Clearly, the trend for more independence and freedom has been emphasised in all three organisations mentioned above. Perhaps they are working with the same trend or advertising agency? Or maybe they are buying the same external trends report. It certainly looks like it, doesn’t it?

Companies that develop concepts based upon this type of external resource alone can find themselves in a race to be the first to market when using the ideas these reports suggest.

Incidentally, it is not always best to be the first when introducing new concepts to consumers, especially when they require learning new ways of thinking or working.

So what can you do about it? The vital step that many – dare I say most – organisations don’t take, is to turn the trends they are following into plausible future scenarios.

Scenario planning ensures original thinking from which proprietary ideas are conceived, and takes the development of new concepts in-house, where it belongs.

Then, the new product and service concepts, the new advertising campaigns, and the new promotions that are designed are unlikely to be the same as those of the competition and will, therefore, have a greater chance of success.

 

Turning Trends

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5 Rules for Rolling Out a Successful Local Brand into Global Markets

I remember reading an article in the Financial Times a few years ago, that challenged companies to search for a new style of marketer.

Now you might be forgiven for thinking that they were speaking about the current need for marketers to be both creative and tech-savvy. But they weren’t. They were referring to the growing demand for marketers who could take successful local brands to global fortune.

After all, thanks to the internet, we live in a global market and the recent pandemic has highlighted this more than ever before, with online shopping booming. The marketer who understands when local specificities make sense and when they don’t, is the one who will succeed in today’s global economy.

 

In this networked world, more and more successful local brands are attempting global roll-outs. What does it take to repeat the success you’ve had at market level when you launch globally? Here are my five rules to fortune:

 

1. Understand the Market and How It’s Changing

This is the basis of any new product launch and applies just as well to global rollouts as it does to local brand developments. Today’s customers are demanding, so find out as much as possible about them. Understand their rational needs but also their emotional desires, even if they don’t openly articulate them.

For global rollouts, additional information is required, including a comparison of the similarities and differences between the customers in the local and future markets. This is where trend following is of particular use, even if you haven’t (yet?) developed plausible future scenarios, as I recommend here.

 

Let’s look at some of the latest trends which are growing across regions today.

  • Conscious consumerism: Consumers have become much more thoughtful about what and where they purchase.  They support companies that demonstrate the same values that they have and brands are tapping into this trend with campaigns showing their position on various topics. Check out these examples of latest campaigns:
  • I want it now! Consumers and shoppers want information – and their purchases too! – where and when they need it. This has been the case for years. But now they expect to get near-instantaneous answers to all their questions, sometimes using visual search to identify and buy whatever they see, wherever they see it. Ikea’s Place App offers shoppers the possibility to snap an article they like and then see it in their home environment. Ikea also offers a visual search function for shoppers to identify an item seen in a magazine or real life, and then find similar ones. Dulux’s Paint Colour Visualizer offers shoppers a similar service; you can try out paint colours virtually in your home to see how it will look with your furnishings before you purchase it.
  • Personalised Experiences. Despite the desire for data privacy control, consumers are ready to provide their information in exchange for a better, highly personalised experience. ZozoSuit is one example
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The Great Trends Hoax: They don’t give a Business a Competitive Advantage

Do you follow trends? I bet you do! Everyone likes talking about the future, imagining what it might hold and then taking pride in seeing that they were “right”, that what they had “predicted” has come true. If this is how you work with trends, then you must read this post – urgently!

There are many trend providers today, from futurologists, to trend agencies, to gurus, all claiming to have “the truth”. An ex-colleague of mine made an interesting comment to me last weekend, as we hiked up to the top of La Dole, one of the small hills in the Lac Leman area of Switzerland where I live.

We were discussing trend following and she was comparing the providers with which her company had worked in the last five or ten years. Which of them “had got it right” and which ones hadn’t. I said that I wasn’t too keen on businesses working with trends alone, as there was no competitive advantage in doing so. She then made a wonderful comment: “You’re right of course. In fact when you go to these meetings to hear about the latest trends each year, you are sitting with a group of 20, 50, 100 or often even more people, all hearing the same presentations and “predictions”. If you all go back and start working on actions to respond to the future that was just presented, you’re all doing the same things and are in a way actually making the predictions come true”.

As I said, I have never really liked working with trends other than for developing plausible future scenarios, but she had put one of my concerns into words; you don’t gain competitive advantage from following trends. Whilst they may at best provide indications of some tactical actions you might take in the short-term, trends cannot help you develop your vision and strategy.

So if you want to achieve the real advantage of following trends and to get a head-start over your competition, then it’s time you started developing your own future scenarios. How? Well, here’s a 10-step approach that I have found has worked with many of my clients, which assumes that you are already following trends of some description:

10-Step Process

  1. Identify the most relevant trends for your category from all those that you are currently following. This evaluation is often best handled by your market research and insight group, who have access to a lot of information, both internal and external, and not just on trends. If this is a new area for you all, you may decide to seek some external support to help you make these first difficult choices.
  2. Invite a group of about 10-15 people from various departments within the organisation and who have ideas about what will happen in their different areas of the business, to join your “Futures” team. I have found that when invited, few refuse and in fact more ask to join the group when they hear about it, than
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