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Episode 25: “3 Consumer Trends You Can’t Ignore” with Michael Marx, Head of Research Consulting at Visa

What are you giving your customers – features and functionality or ways to meet their life goals and reduce their stress that aligns with what you’re offering? Michael Marx, Head of Research Consulting at Visa, shares how having the most fun job at Visa gives him the opportunity to offer guidance and insights to enterprises for improving solution offerings, customer interactions, and competitive differentiation in this Reimagining Communications episode, “3 Consumer Trends You Can’t Ignore.”

Tapping into the Quality of Life: “What makes my job the most fun job at Visa is that I get our partners to think differently about the issues they face and perhaps give them guidance in areas they might not have thought of before. When you're able to get something of an ‘aha’ moment with a client, that's what makes what I do personally worthwhile. My mission is to get partners to think more broadly about their customers and not just in that narrow lane of the products or services that the particular partner offers. It's really designed to get them to think of their customers not as payment mechanisms or purchasers of hamburgers, but as people you want to help maximize the quality of their life. If you understand the stresses that people have in their lives, the goals they have in their lives, and those kinds of issues, you can be more effective in designing products, communication channels, communication content, marketing approaches to fit what you happen to be offering in the world.”

Three Current Consumer Trends: “We’re seeing three consumer trends in the marketplace; the first being immediacy. Everything is just in time; everything needs to happen fast. The second trend that we're seeing is what I call the ‘visualization life.’ Being that pretty much everybody is a gamer, people are learning through visual cues rather than through text cues. The third trend we're seeing in the marketplace, especially driven by young consumers, is the desire for personalized experiences as young people tend to ask, ‘You know all of this about me because you have a lot of my data. Why are you providing me with generic solutions to my issues, problems, or desires? Why can't you use that information to tailor offerings, promotions, reward offerings, and so forth to me?’” 

Give to Get: “Young people understand the give-to-get mentality, ‘If I give you all this information about me, I don't mind giving up a little bit of my privacy in order to get something in return.’ Older consumers look at this with a lot more skepticism because they feel this kind of data usage is an imposition into their privacy. Even though it might be to their benefit, they're uncomfortable with the process. In this environment today, it's important to understand there's going to be a lot of customers who really want personalization, but there's a large group of consumers who are skeptical, worried, and, to some degree, creeped out.”

Downside to Being Human: “Financial service institutions tend to be risk-averse, meaning they don't want to be first. They want to be fast followers. We're seeing a bit more aggressiveness in industries, such as hospitality, where more and more of those entities are saying, ‘How do we differentiate ourselves?’ One of the ways they're doing so is through personalization initiatives, making the interaction with their customers more frictionless, faster, and less human in certain ways. They don't want to stand in the check-in line and greet a smiling agent. They just as soon go to a kiosk or even get a digital key before they arrive at a hotel so that they can just walk directly to their room. So, financial services tend to be a little bit farther behind for a number of reasons, but we do see other industries embracing some of these principles and, as a result, increasing loyalty among their customer base…One thing we've seen in financial services where face-to-face interaction is still desired is the account opening process. However, once you get through these initial trust-building stages, then the need to continue to deal with an actual individual diminishes. I think that's what every commercial enterprise has to figure out: where face to face is still the most appropriate and most desired, and those areas where customers prefer a different channel of interaction. To some degree, it’s trial and error.”

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