Natasha Hritzuk - MSFT
Posted on 29/01/14

Despite the cold and snow, it’s great to be back in Canada and I can’t think of a better forum to launch Microsoft’s Canadian Digital Trends research than Ad Week Toronto.

This exciting research investigates how consumers’ relationships with technology are evolving, how brands can live up to these changing expectations and, in the process, forge deeper connections with consumers. While this study focuses on emerging trends, we are starting to see them show up in our Consumer Decision Journey research across verticals like Retail and Financial Services.  This suggests that tomorrow may be here sooner than we think.

At the core of many of these trends is the increasing need for personalization. The way we shop today is vastly different from the days of our grandparents. My family in Calgary (where I grew up) went to neighborhood stores and were known: sales associates would call them by name, provide personalized assistance and follow up with thank-you notes. Today, only the most high-end apparel shopping services offer anything close to a personalized experience, and even then, any pre-shopping that occurs online isn’t carried through to the retail environment (my jeans addiction aside, shouldn’t that Rag and Bones sales associate know which pairs I bought two weeks prior to my next fix?).

Consumers want marketers to value them (and their data) and they’re prepared to share their data in exchange for offer and deals, convenience, or more personal and fulfilling experiences. In fact, 53% of Canadian consumers are much more willing to buy a product or service from a brand that offers a reward in exchange for their digital data.  

But, it doesn’t end there.  Brands need to use this data to more intelligently read consumers’ signals, respond to their needs and ultimately add value to their lives. 41% of Canadians already expect brands to know the right moment to talk to them and 56% are more likely to buy a product or service from a brand that curates and delivers pleasantly surprising experiences.

Like most things, trends tend to come back around (though hopefully bell bottoms will remain a thing of the past).  Brands can learn a thing or two from the neighborhood stores of my childhood - take the time to understand consumers as people (what we do and the motivations behind our actions), rather than thinking of us as a demographic.

The good news is that we now have more tools at our disposal than ever before to improve and deeply personalize shopping experiences in and out of the store, enabling us to capitalize on these emerging trends.

To learn how the insights from Digital Trends are being used to build new experiences across Microsoft platforms, take a look at my colleague Steven Webster’s blog post. You can also learn more by reading our Digital Trends report on the Microsoft @ Ad Week Toronto website.

As always, thanks for reading!

Natasha

Tags: Adweek14, canada, digital trends, events, natasha hritzuk
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