One in five chief marketing officers may say they have completely changed their approach to customer experience design in response to COVID-19, ongoing differentiation will require a greater emphasis on innovation and creativity, according to a report published by Isobar.
The Boston-based digital experience agency gathered responses from more than 1,350 CMOs from around the world as part of the Isobar Creative Experience Survey 2020 that was released on Thursday.
At a high level, 64 per cent of those surveyed said they had either ‘moderately’ or ‘completely’ changed their CX strategy. Examples included investments in new products and services, which was broken down as a tactic by 45 percent of all CMOs and 49 per cent CMOs working larger organizations.
Beyond brand building and tactics focused on raising awareness, meanwhile, 39 per cent of CMOs showed an increased interest in commerce-related activities, with 36 per cent pursuing direct-to-consumer (DTC) strategies to grow revenues.
“While In 2019, ‘consistency’ was cited as the most important factor for differentiated customer experience, in 2020 creativity has been elevated in importance,” the report’s authors wrote.
“In the early stage of the pandemic, brands rushed to secure their route to market through eCommerce. To maximise their investment longer term CMOs will need to focus on creating distinctive and differentiated commerce experiences across every shoppable touchpoint.”
The report gave some examples of where Isobar has already been helping its clients in these areas. The agency’s Amsterdam branch, for instance, created audiobooks for Volkswagen called “Snelweg Sprookjes” or ‘Road Tales.” The app uses location data and a dynamic story engine to develop personalized tales that transform ordinary roadside objects like bridges to windmills into what Isobar described as “magical landscapes.”
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Even if a lot of the major findings aren’t very surprising, the Isobar report helps point the direction to what kind of elements CMOs are going to need to boost the level of creativity they infuse into customer experiences.
While 58 per cent of CMOs said they were betting on the innovative use of technology, for instance — VR and AR get more hype here — half of those surveyed also said they saw the need for a “idea” to make experiences different or unique.
This notion of the “big idea” has been a staple of the ad industry almost since its inception, of course, but Isobar’s research suggested it needs to less about a brand’s self-interest. Already, 36 per cent of CMOs said they had implemented some kind of purpose-led initiative in response to COVID-19, and 40 per cent said they believe consumers want to see more efforts that demonstrate compassion and care for employees.
Isobar uses the report to talk about its framework for helping develop creative experiences — it calls it the “Creative Symphony” — but the report is more interesting when it delves into specifics. KFC’s creation of a digital store on WeChat in China, for instance, showed that a truly omni-channel strategy should include, as did the “Cadillac Live” case study where a digital showroom was created for luxury buyers.