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It seems that business strategists are beginning to seriously grapple with the huge marketplace changes that have occurred in the last several years. The shifts to digital commerce, changes in consumer culture and the impacts these have had on corporate organizations is startling. In my view, the financial collapse of the Great
Recession only masked these changes and the unrecognized shifts in consumer engagement are the real culprit for the lagging economic recovery. To this end, there seems to be a lot of business chatter about the consumer decision making.

The concept of Consumer Navigation is certainly not new. Brian Solis with the release of his newest book, [What’s the Future] of Business (it’s excellent), is shining a bright light on it. Yet, many of our most successful consumer centric companies (Proctor & Gamble for example) have championed mapping the consumer “moments of truth” for years. The difference today is the marketplace has changed dramatically.

More than half of American adults are tethered to smart devises that impact each of the Four Exits of Consumer Decision Navigation. The lingering 20th Century approach to consumer engagement (advertising) isn’t working. Change is hard, but formally delineated business practices like marketing, operations, sales and customer service have blurred. Skills of employees needed to effectively impact the changing marketplace are struggling to keep pace.

The speed of this evolving landscape is breathtaking. I remember seeing a 2011 Gary Vaynerchuk T.V. interview (see below) where he was trumpeting his book The Thank You Economy. In the interview, Gary made the point that there will be large iconic companies that will not be able to adjust and will be overrun by upstart competitors that better engage with the new marketplace realities. There are a number of companies mired in traditional methods lining up to prove Gary right, and thousands that recognize the new marketplace challenges and are searching for solutions.

There are no magic bullets to morph an organization into a Twenty Teen juggernaut. The obvious pathway to success is one that impacts consumer digital engagement along all Four Exits of Consumer Navigation. Real life engagement is important, but easy access to digital content for decision making with mobile apps, smart phones, social networks and the Web dominates. Success will be dictated by how effectively companies and brands digitally engage when it comes to consumer Discovery, Choice Comparison, Purchase/Sentiment Evaluation and Sharing/Loyalty.

Is there a single solution that can impact all four areas of the Consumer Journey? All approaches available should be used to engage, but I do think it’s possible to timely address all decision areas. Consumer Navigation is fluid and complex with people moving interchangeably between them. Conducting highly interactive digital programs where different program segments tackle the four Decision Areas could be interesting. Participants could help guide each other through the different stages of their decision. Choreographed well, using “crowd source” techniques, brand aware participants could positively impact the less brand experienced…and everyone wins.

This is just one possibility, and companies that are open to new solutions and willing to try new styles of engagement will jump ahead of those who don’t.

This Video is Beyond Thought Provoking (from March, 2011)…

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