It’s that time of year, when Business Link Magazine invites the region’s business leaders to offer up their predictions for the year ahead.
It has become something of a tradition, given that we’ve been doing this now for over 30 years.
Here we speak to Matt Hayes, Managing Director at Champions (UK) plc.
During 2021, we’ve witnessed the poignant closure of high-street giants Arcadia and Debenhams, while online titans Boohoo and Asos have made significant investments to increase their market share, acquiring Topshop, Burtons, Wallis, Dorothy Perkins and Debenham’s website assets.
The demise of these legacy brands can be correlated to their trading focus on their brick-and-mortar roots, supported by traditional advertising. They did not adapt to an increasingly digitalised shopping environment, which caused them to lose connection with their customers showcased by their falling sales.
Nowadays, consumer expectations are evolving day-to-day and brands must ensure that they keep up with these changing needs. Customers are increasingly empowered in their buying decisions, deciding what they consume, how they consume it and when they do so – any time day or night.
It is not just the consumption journey that is changing. The channels in which we try and reach our potential customers are also changing too, with traditional print and broadcast advertisement reducing in impact and importance. In an era where clients and customers wish to be engaged, personal preference must be monitored and bespoke marketing methods used to reach them via a personalised multichannel approach.
In the B2C sector, considering convenience and customer experience are all paramount to creating a successful business. From quick and easy shopping via short one-two click shopping functionality and the offering of easy-to-use apps or simple product returns policies, brands must offer simplicity in the user-experience in their customers purchase journey.
As lockdown has impacted our lives, consumers are looking for more than just products. What can brands offer them as a point of difference? Brands must also consider their values in their messaging as increasingly a business’s approach, ethics and ethos are all part of their customers considerations. For example, you might place focus on your environmental approach to sustainability or report on your carbon footprint.
In a B2B sector, the idea is much the same, stakeholders must hone in on their values and actively communicate the right messages on the right platforms, tailoring their engagement methods so that potential leads are connecting with your business on every channel.
Due to the impacts of Covid-19, the speed of digitisation has progressed more than 9 years in 9 months. I predict that this tide of digital engagement is one that business will need to embrace rather than take the approach of King Canute and try to resist. Businesses, whether B2B or B2C, need to refocus their attentions and invest now in ensuring they have a fully digitalised customer journey that engages in a personal way, across all the channels their customers choice to use.
Now that there is light at the end of the Covid-19 tunnel with the vaccine roll outs coming into effect, now is the time for businesses to invest, working with experts to review and update their digital footprint, messages and channels. Customers demand a full 360 service approach, covering every area from communications, digital and web development, right through to video, creative and talent partnerships. Businesses will either evolve and embrace the opportunities available to them across this digitised landscape or perish.