Time And Intensity Redefine Brand Engagement

Walker SmithSeptember 8, 20202 min

The consumer journey continues to evolve as consumers create—and demand—a more flexible and episodic relationship with the marketplace. Whereas traditional engagement was based on consistency and sustained interaction, engagement now comes in torrents that stop as quickly as they start. The shift to this new nature of relationship, what we call Torrential Engagement, is driven by two key elements: time and intensity.

Time is increasingly scarce and precious for today’s consumer, and many brands are creating solutions that provide instant gratification. The effect is a literal rewiring of our brains—trained by technology to get what we want when we want it. Our preference for brevity has led to a more episodic engagement with content and communication in microbursts. Take media engagement, for example. 72% of adults get their news on-the-go from mobile sources (up from 54% just three years ago) as traditional news outlets innovate by providing more immediate and quickly digestible stories.

Just as technology has created a preference for brief interactions, it’s also affected the intensity of those interactions, creating an “On/Off” style of engagement, or what we call “High/No Intensity,” where consumers are either fully engaged or completely disconnected. It’s this phenomenon that creates the reality where a majority of people say they could not get by without their smartphones, while also wishing they spent more time being disconnected from technology.

There are two key ways businesses can connect with consumers who prefer Torrential Engagement. The first strategy is to reflect the new shape of engagement, by matching rewards to these High/No Intensity contours, rewarding consumers not just for the longevity, but the intensity of their engagement. Starbucks took this approach when it offered anyone the chance to immediately achieve gold status, simply by making a single purchase in a short timeframe—rewarding intense engagement in a select period of time.

The second strategy is to reframe disengagement from something negative to a new, positive opportunity for engagement. The Amazon Dash Button is built for optimizing low-level engagement, which makes the purchase process so light-touch—so disengaging—that it encourages consumers go on autopilot. By allowing consumers go on standby rather than completely power down, this strategy can prevent complete disengagement and open up new opportunities. Both of these strategies take advantage of the fact that the traditional notion of engagement has changed. Brands who are willing to rethink how they view and measure consumer engagement today will be poised for success in the future.

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