As I put it in my book “Neuro e-Marketing. Scientific Keys” 1, marketing, a field of knowledge that aims to generate, communicate and deliver significant “value” to consumers, has been developing and is in constant evolution and construction to adapt to the changes of different historical stages and technological demands.
And, one of these great historical changes is that of “The Digital Age”.
The Digital Age, the Internet, AI and converging disruptive technologies
“The Digital Age, also known as the “Information or Computer Age” because it is linked to revolutionary new Information and Communication Technologies, coincides with a dynamic of very particular and intense economic phenomena, profound geopolitical changes, internet and disruptive technological innovations, which have profoundly impacted how we seek information, work, produce, communicate, share, do business, market products/services and buy in a globalised world without borders.
In the history of economics, business and marketing, nothing has had a greater transformational impact than the IT revolution, the rise of computing power, the internet, artificial intelligence AI (Chatbots, Machine Learning, Deep Learning, Virtual Assistants, Search Engines, Media Buying, Content Creation, ROI Computation, Targeting Personalization, Cloud Technology) devices such as personal computers, tablets, mobiles, smartphones and other smart devices such as smart glasses and watches with multiple functionalities. As well as social networks, text messages, in addition to “disruptive and emerging technologies”, derived from the increase in computational power, such as Big Data, blockchain, sensors (Infinite Data), augmented reality, virtual reality, internet of things (IoT), 3-D printing, smart speakers, wearables, robots and drones.
These technologies are boosting businesses and reducing or eliminating others. Thus Netflix killed Blockbuster, Amazon reduced the business of traditional bookstores and Spotify caused Apple’s Itunes music revenues to decline from their peak in 2000.
The growing importance of the internet and social media in marketing
As “Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia” puts it, the Internet, which has its origins in the World Wide Web, which emerged in 1989 and became accessible to the public in 1991, expanded rapidly, and by 1996, many companies had websites and displayed their advertisements on them, which users could access first with the “Mosaic” browser and later with the “Netscape Navigator” and “Internet Explorer”.
However, despite the huge expansion at that time, the “mass internet” culture was only possible in the late 2000s and the first years of the 21st century.
According to the Digital Report 2021 by We Are Social and Hootsuite 2, as of January of this year, the number of internet users worldwide is 4.66 billion people, who-on average-spend 7 hours a day using this medium, and more than 53% of the world’s population (4.2 billion) uses social networks. These figures are growing steadily.
On the other hand, the report states that people, on average worldwide, spend about two hours and 25 minutes on social networks, so these follow an ascending line as channels of communication, influence and recommendations regarding consumption. Thus, 45% of users between 16 and 64 years of age search for information about brands on social networks, while 40% use them for work purposes. And 77% of internet users aged 16-64 say they have bought something online every month.
Likewise, the 2021 Digital Report highlights the growing popularity of messaging platforms, chats, which are used by 91% of internet users, which, comparatively, places them above social networks, which reach 88%. And it is also very important to consider that groups of people over the age of 50, the silversufers, are “the fastest growing segment on platforms such as Facebook”.
In our country, according to data on online consumer habits from the “IAB Spain e-commerce 2020 Annual Study”, 93% of the total Spanish population between 16 and 70 years of age (33.6 million) are internet users, that is, 31.2 million, and of these, 72% (22.5 million) use the internet as a shopping channel. Meanwhile, for the 35-44 age group, the percentage of internet users is 77%.
Furthermore, the study highlights that 87% of internet users are users of social networks, and that 59% of social network users state that before making a purchase, they research on these networks.
The Internet is therefore, as Harvard professor John Deighton described it in 2000, “a total multidimensional marketing environment”. To which I would add: “Ideal for doing it”.
The professional and business need to be trained and updated for success
In view of what we have said above and the fact that the pandemic has accelerated and intensified a change that had already been occurring before, embodied in the acronym VUCA, which refers to variable, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environments, it is self-evident that professionals and companies must transform themselves digitally by leaps and bounds if they want to be competitively successful and obtain the desired profitability and growth, without having to find themselves in the situation of being irrelevant in the market or, even worse, disappearing from it.
As Raja Rajamannar argues in his book Quantum Marketing (2021) 4, adapting to the new situation on the planet requires updating in cutting-edge knowledge and training in the use of new technological tools, methodologies, models and communication channels, so as to be able to re-imagine strategies and re-do day-to-day business with renewed and agile forms of management.
Darwin wrote: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor is it the most intelligent. It is that which has the greatest capacity to adapt to change”.
In my new book “The Intelligent Enterprise. Neural Networks Model” (2021), 5 based on the World Economic Forum’s 2020 survey, 6 on the “Future of Jobs” from 2020 to 2025, I refer to the fact that the basic skills required of employees will change by 40% to 50%, and also that they will require new training, while almost all business leaders, 94%, agree that workers should acquire them”.
As a relevant study by McKinsey Quarterly, carried out in 2020, called The Skilfful Corporation 7 in conjunction with other studies and sources from this prestigious company, which I quote in my book (ibid.) 8, shows, there is a great need to develop the skills of employees in order to meet the current needs of companies and grow, including analytical, digital and transversal skills, with a significant gap between those that employees possess and those that would be needed. On the other hand, there are currently no effective programmes for the development of these skills.
In this regard, Neuroscience Business School, the business school to which I belong, offers various Master’s programmes for business management, updated in key aspects, and specifically those that refer to digital marketing, which are the subject of this article, include cutting-edge concepts and tools such as those derived from Neuromarketing, Behavioural Economics and Sensory & Experiential Science, among other disciplines. Science, as a support, is part of the paradigms of the new marketing.
It is of great value to note that a company of Nielsen’s size, stature and prestige, http://www.nielsen.com/us/en.html, which has long been focused on traditional research methods, has invested heavily in the field of neuromarketing to apply it to both online and offline channels.
The company, which acquired Neuro Focus, uses tools including EEG, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), eye tracking, biometric testing, including facial coding, because in its view traditional methods “miss at least 50% of what is happening”. Today, there is also a wide range of companies worldwide dedicated to neuroscientific research for commercial purposes. Among these, some are very well known. For example, and just to mention a few that come to mind: Imotions, https://imotions.com/, Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience, http://www.nielsen.com/us/en.html, Neuro-Insight, https://www.neuro-insight.com/ and Neuro Sense, http://www.neurosense.com/ .
From traditional marketing to digital marketing
Kotler, Kartayaja and Setiawan (2017) 9 argue that “digital marketing is not meant to replace traditional marketing”, furthermore the two “should co-exist with interchangeable roles along the customer journey”. They further complete their view, stating that “the focus of traditional marketing is to initiate customer interaction”, primarily to generate “awareness and interest”, whereas, “the most important role of digital marketing is to drive action and advocacy”.
In today’s marketing, despite its evolution, many of the classic concepts still remain valid, although their application must be adapted to new realities. It would be absurd and ineffective to do without them.
Adaptation of Tools: The 4 Pes of the Marketing Mix and the 4 C’s
The “4 Ps” were created by Jerome E. McCarthy in the 1960s. They are so called because all these variables start with the letter P. Thus, “product”, “price”, “promotion” and “place” (location).
Every marketer should use them in a similar way as chefs combine ingredients in their kitchens to make tasty dishes that customers like.
The “4 Ps” have evolved into the “4 Cs” to adapt to a more participative and co-creative consumer. The “4 Cs” were created in 1990 by Professor Robert Lauterborn of the University of North Carolina: Consumer, Cost, Convenience and Communication.
- Consumer, who must be “listened to” and “facilitated to participate” in order to satisfy them with personalised products and services.
- Cost, which includes not only the price that the consumer has to pay, but also the efforts and energy that must be expended to acquire and pay for them.
- Convenience, which refers to the facilities for acquiring products or services, such as wide choice, convenient opening hours, easy payment systems, fast delivery and simple and uncomplicated return processes.
- And, communication, which describes the facilities that should be provided to the customer to be able to communicate with the company through different channels and in real time at all times and points of contact.
The “ESP” added
The following “Pes” are being applied to the off/online status quo
- “Participation”, which relates to taking the customer very much into account so that they “co-create” and collaborate by providing ideas, comments, reviews and ratings.
- “Personalisation”, which refers to tailoring products and services to what the customer wants.
- “Prediction”, which consists of making forecasts about future consumer behaviour and impacting them effectively, based on patterns and trends extracted from large amounts of data captured by technologies that use very sophisticated algorithms, which, moreover, do so with great speed (even in real time) and with high degrees of veracity (Big Data).
Google AdWords relies on Big Data technology built on the basis of powerful algorithms and Artificial Intelligence to make very accurate predictions about consumer behaviour, so that its clients benefit and obtain profitability in automated purchases of audiences and spaces, as well as in creating campaigns segmented by keywords/categories, in addition to placing sponsored advertising in support networks linked to AdSense. This allows ROI to be measured on a solid basis.
It is estimated that more than 65% of digital advertising in 2019 was bought and served by an algorithm in programmatic environments.
- People: Focus on people, because without considering people as such, business achievement is not possible. What is required is: knowing how to treat people well, motivate (which includes paying fairly) and train in up-to-date competencies.
- Physical Evidences. Both physical and digital evidence. Thus, tangible signs that guide about the suitability of the company, its products and services. Physical, such as employee uniforms, facilities, catalogues, logos, delivery cars, site decoration and cleanliness of bathrooms. Digital, such as good page design, fast navigation, easy to see and use menus, appropriate colours, easy to read text, and brief but effective information of interest to the user so that no time is wasted in navigation.
- “Processes”, which both on and off line must facilitate all the stages and each of the moments that lead to attracting, converting and retaining customers; which, if well executed, generate very solid competitive advantages.
Integrated back and front office processes must be optimised.
The back office is the part that is behind our website and that the customer does not see, which takes the form of activities such as the registration and processing of orders, stock control, dispatch of goods, fulfilment of guarantees, reception and answering of emails, which influences the customer’s perception of the quality of the service and subsequent customer loyalty.
The front office is the part that the customer can see, the showcase of the company, the brand, products and services. It includes elements such as making the company’s website comfortable and user-friendly (usability).
Today’s marketing professionals
They can no longer afford to be “just” marketing specialists, but must have a good knowledge of data collection, handling, storage, interpretation and exploitation, digital technologies, communication and relationships, sales, business management and finance.
Neuroscience Business School is the key to achieving this!
- Gago, M. A. (2017). Neuro e-marketing. Claves Científicas: Atraer, seducir, convencer y vender on/off line. Amazon
- Rajamannar, R. (2021) Quantum Marketing: Mastering the New Marketing Mindset for Tomorrow´s Consumers. HarperCollins Leadership. USA.
- Gago, M. A. (2021). La Empresa Inteligente. Modelo Redes Neuronales. Relanzamiento Empresarial en Tiempos Turbulentos y Disruptivos. Amazon
- Gago, M. A. (2017). Neuro e-marketing. Claves Científicas: Atraer, seducir, convencer y vender on/off line. Amazon.
- Kotler, P., Kartajaya, H., & Setiawan, I. (2017). Marketing 4.0: Moving from Traditional to Digital. John Wile&Sons, Inc., Hobohen, New Jersey. USA.
Written by: Miguel Ángel Gago , Professor in Neuroscience Business School