Brainy Breakfast: Centennials, Chatbots and Creativity

How will chatbots and voice transform the customer experience? What’s a centennial, and how do we engage with them effectively? And how do we innovate for ongoing relevance? 

These were the questions asked and answered in the first Marketing Association Brainy Breakfast for 2019.

Terry Williams-Willcock, Creative Director at Rush Digital, Dan West, Digital Strategy Director at FCB and Erik Hays, Creative Strategy Director at Weta Workshop shared their insights into the trends and technology that are shaping 2019 and beyond. 


Want to reach centennials? There needs to be purpose – beyond $$ 

As the dust settles around Nike and Gillette’s adventures in purpose-driven campaigns, Dan West of FCB challenged us to find authenticity in 2019.

Centennials, he explained, want authentic experiences, and 72% believe that brands should be doing something to make society better.

And woke washing won’t fly. Centennials see through brands (see: Pepsi, Kendall Jenner, 2018) that latch onto socio-political issues, and don’t stay quiet when they get it wrong. 

And so, while brands like Nike took a risky route with its brand purpose campaign using Colin Kaepernick, this doesn’t mean we all need to. It can just as easily be aspirational. As long as it’s authentic. 

Alongside this drive for purpose is the desire for authenticity and trust. Many worry that centennials are less likely to give up their data, but this isn’t true. As digital natives, they are quite open with data, if they trust you.

In New Zealand overall it seems we’re quite protective of our data. But we’re also the most likely to give up our email address.  


There will always be new tech

All speakers agreed that Martech continues to be a powerful tool for organisations. In 2019 we’ll see more instances of AI, voice interface technology and chatbots used to optimise customer experiences. The challenge for marketers? How to apply it in a way that’s beneficial to customers.

Despite the delay in Alexa coming to New Zealand, voice interface technology is advancing at a rapid pace, and ComScore predicts that 50% of search will be voice search by 2020. That’s next year.

Luckily, according to Terry William-Willcock, Creative Director of Rush Digital, there’s massive opportunity this year to experiment and have some fun with this technology.

So, although Kiwis have been late adopters of these technologies, now’s the time to start thinking about how you can bring voice and chatbots into your strategy for 2019. This might seem like a huge undertaking, so start small, think about the problem it would solve for your customer, and get your data foundation in place.

If you are thinking about implementing chatbots or voice think about the persona of your artificial or bot interface. Consider how it will relate to your brand and be personable to the user.


There needs to be creativity

With all these changes and advances it’s easy to become overwhelmed. How can we use new technology to engage with consumers? How can we ensure that we’re meeting expectations and delivering the experience that they want?

Erik Hay, Creative Strategy Director at Weta Workshop, shared some insights into the creative process that helped the company successfully evolve in this way. 

The key takeaway? Analytics and data are decision making tools, not decision makers. While these are crucial for growth, it still takes people to make sense of what the insights are telling us, and then using these to drive innovation and change.

Innovation also relies on ideas, originality, and a lot of hard work. If an idea is truly unique there will be little research that will help back it up. So, brainstorm, write it down, generate ideas. And once you think you’ve exhausted all your ideas, do one more round – that could be where the best solutions are hiding.


Brainy Breakfast Poll

With all these technology advancements we wanted to know which ones Brainy Breakfast attendees were looking to implement to improve the customer experience in 2019.

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The majority didn’t quite feel ready to venture into the world of voice and IoT just yet. Priorities are still focusing on automation, integration, and catching up with current technology. 

Voice search (despite its imminent dominance) is also low on attendees’ priorities with over 50% looking instead to focus on Chatbots and Artificial Intelligence.

And which brand do Brainy Breakfast marketers think are using the technologies the best? Air New Zealand, which wasn’t a huge surprise, especially with its fantastic chatbot. In a market that’s slow to adopt these new technologies, brands that use chatbots or virtual assistants intelligently really stand out.

But remember: no matter which technology you implement in 2019, keep the customer in mind. Think about who you’re designing for, and what their problem is. Then think about how you could solve it using that technology. 

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