The road ahead is difficult for cookies, but it is an important shift in the consumer journey: Vineet R Ahuja

We catch up with the managing director and lead of consumer, sales and service, at Accenture India, to learn his insights on reinvention, brand trust, the element of personalisation at his firm and more…

May 25, 2022 11:44:00 AM | Article | Noel D'Souza

The Covid-19 pandemic became synonymous with the word disruption. Brands could no longer function with a linear approach to get their message across. They had to let go of rigid ways by learning, adapting and reinventing.

 

During a conversation with Campaign India, Vineet R Ahuja, managing director and lead of consumer, sales and service, at Accenture India, shared insights on building brand trust, how consumer values have changed during the pandemic, how Accenture approaches personalisation, and more…

 

Edited excerpts:

 

When it comes to re-invention, what are the key elements that need to be focused on? 

 

While most speak about being customer-first, organisations would rather be product first. 

 

You have to understand the customer in its entirety, and the way to understand them is not through research because what a consumer says and does are two different things. Live the life of a consumer by stepping into their shoes and then offer an innovation. 

 

It is the digital natives that teach us the value of pure consumer centricity. We must learn from them. 

 

Even while offering something new, rather than thinking of a transaction, think of the experience. 

 

If consumers are looking to buy something on digital commerce, they might want to seek advice or speak to somebody. 

 

For instance, when one buys a new phone, unboxing is an experience. So on and so forth. Every interaction with the consumer can be an experience. But if the consumer gets the same experience online just as the consumer would offline, the aspect of trust, convenience, understanding, and experience scale up. 

 

These efforts then further lead to better conversions. So, any interaction involved is a win-win. A consumer will enjoy the buying experience, and obviously, it is good for the seller. 

 

How have consumer values changed after the pandemic, and what are the new emerging trends you have witnessed with your affiliated brands? 

 

The shifts that we have witnessed are the demand for certain categories and channels. 

 

Categories like health, immunity products, hygiene, and everything related to comfort like athleisure clothing are gaining prominence.  

 

We have seen purchases more on online channels and at neighbourhood shops. These two sub-channels are further getting accelerated. 

 

When it comes to omnichannel, there is enforcement to a greater degree and the expectation of personalisation. 

 

When it comes to personalisation and creating engagement with consumers what strategies is Accenture implementing for its clients in India? 

 

There is an experience renaissance happening around us. Our global research found the companies that focus their entire organisation—the C-Suite, all functions and every employee—around delivering exceptional experiences for their customers, employees and society outperform their peers by six times in year-on-year profitability. 

 

To win in today's market, brands must offer experiences that create new value across every interaction throughout the customer journey. When one improves the experience, it improves lives and the business. We take an experience-led approach to help our clients reimagine their businesses. Companies will need to orient their entire organisation – from the C-suite through to the supply chain – around creating meaningful experiences for their customers.

 

There is no standardised offering or strategy as customer experience requirements are unique for every company and industry. We work closely with companies to understand their challenges and address them to offer better personalisation and an experience-led transformation.

 

How does a brand build the element of trust for its consumers? 

 

There is the age-old model which continues even today when it comes to building trust in brands. What is a brand? It is a recognised name standing for something and being consistent in those values including improving its product quality. As long as the brand was consistent with the 4P’s of marketing, it could build trust. 

 

However, in the digital age, emphasis on customer data improves trust, and that’s a new order. To take data and handle it in a very sensitive manner with full integrity, trust, and security and then use that to provide differentiated value to the consumer including personalisation is what builds trust. The age-old method holds, but this is an augmentation. 

 

How can Web 3 strategies help brands scale up their business? 

 

The thinking should not just be tech-forward. Brands should focus on offering a differentiated consumer experience. 

 

In the consumer journey at every stage, it is about making the journey more intelligent and personalised. The efforts taken to accomplish this consumer journey are where the answer lies. So, it can well be in blockchain, omnichannel, metaverse or NFTs. Technology solutions or platforms are the enablers. But by and large, the more data a brand has the more personalisation it can drive through technologies such as AI, ML and others. 

 

Beyond that, the decentralised ecosystem and Web 3 would be unique to customer shopping journeys and the industry. It would be relevant for some, and for others, it would not. 

 

For instance, take premium personal care. A customer would like to see how a specific product looks on them. So, AR and VR become important in this case. There should be a ‘need’ for the technology. Start with the ‘consumer needs’, and everything else will fall in place. 

 

With privacy issues at the forefront and with third-party cookies being eliminated. How does Accenture plan to tackle gaining insights from consumers?

 

We need to be prepared for it at this stage and find new ways to gain insights into consumers, measure the effectiveness of our campaigns, and craft experiences. The solution can be data consortiums, stronger reliance on second-party data, or data on the back end achieved through merging data to provide enriched intelligence enabling unique global identifiers. 

 

Another strategy is moving to first-party data. Companies now have an unprecedented opportunity to develop a robust first-party data strategy backed by transparent and responsible data that can help grow business value over the long term - and requires investment. This is the journey we would need our clients to undertake. 

 

The road ahead is difficult for cookies, but it is an important shift in the consumer journey.