Consumer Demands in the Digital Age

Sara Mendez, MBA CEO Mendez Media Marketing, Inc.

Consumers today are not looking for who smiles when they walk into a store, or whose mailer has the best offer. Today, the consumer public is looking for convenience, connectivity, and how engaged they can be with their selected products and services.  According to Kenneth Kaufman and Chris Young, more than 72% of the US population now owns a smart phone, and 75% of the US are currently using some form of on-demand online services, and as a result it is now more imperative than ever to get behind the digital age and embrace how technology can move your business’ needle.

Consumers today require mobile friendly websites, apps that give them the ability to pay online, get information quickly that is also relevant to their specific question or need, and social media that not only gives information but responds to their question or post faster than ever before. Simply having a website or social media page is no longer enough. In order to close the deal, businesses must leverage as many digital platforms and touch on as many points as possible, and dedicate resources to digital media, marketing and communications, specific to their industry.

In an article published by Blue Corona, Besty McLeod states that currently only 32% of small businesses invest in social media, and only 25% are investing in online advertising of any kind. 17% are investing in Search Engine Marketing (SEM), or AdWords, however 96% report wanting to use social media strategies as a primary tactic moving forward.

Consumers have changed how they make purchase decisions and what it takes to keep their business. Not long ago the optimal goal was to create a supreme product with a quality that represented the brand, at a price that met the consumers demand. Today, price and quality are still a must, but they don’t close the deal and they don’t influence the top decision making factors. Digital media not only reaches the majority of the population, regardless of demographic targeting, but also allows advertisers to target consumers more specifically than before. Marketing ROI has never been this accurate and easy to track and capture.

Digital media usage continues to increase and as it does, so does the impact of successful digital marketing campaigns. Many people are still unsure on the actual media usage online by some of the largest demographic target markets in the US. Broken out by generation, we can see how media usage patterns now center around online searches, video viewing, and social media, among every market segment. In a study conducted by Marketing Profs, currently Baby Boomers (ages 53-71) spend an average of 1.2 hours each day surfing the web on a mobile device, 19 hours a week online, and 4 a week on social media. Generation X (ages 36-52) spend an average of 1.7 hours a day on mobile devices surfing the web, 7 hours a week on social media, and 32 hours a week consuming all kinds of media. The Millennial generation (ages 23-35) spend 9.3 hours per day on desktop computers, iPhones and laptops, 3.1 hours a day on mobile devices, 27 hours a week consuming all media, as well as 6 hours a week on social media. And lastly, the latest Generation Z (born after 1995), spend an average of 6 hours a day on the internet, resulting in more than 40 hours a week online.

These changes in behaviors, including how the public consumes media and receives advertising messages, has changed more than just how many commercial ads people see and how many different brands they have access to. It has changed the consumer purchase decision-making process as a whole. Word of mouth now includes social media and consumer opinion sites like Trip Advisor, Yelp, and others like them. One bad experience no longer only impacts that customer and their 12-person arms length reach; it impacts thousands from one post on social media. Now more than ever, digital marketing, website updates, and online branding is required to reach today’s consumer. Digital marketing can no longer simply be a line item on the advertising budget. It has to be a strategy in and of itself. It has to be the strategy. Always keep true to who you are, your company’s traditions and what you stand for – values, quality, and product; but introduce those principles to the innovative communication platforms consumers’ want today.