CMOs’ ability to impress and influence consumers becomes more difficult with each new technology and experience that enters the market. Despite a myriad of headlines about the awe-inspiring potential of AI or the wave of entrepreneurs dreaming up the next moonshot, consumers contend with more glitter than gold. The reality today is that:
- Businesses struggle to find a path to prosperous innovation. Many innovations fail to gain traction with consumers, while a rare few stick. We witnessed this when consumers cycled through their fitness trackers: In 2015, 27% of Gen Y US online adults reported using a tracker; one year later, only 19% agreed and 10% reported ditching a wearable device altogether.
- Many innovations fail to change habits or spend. Historically, innovation drives the rise of living standards, healthy competition, and national progress. But despite what feels like recent advances, productivity in the US and other wealthy economies is growing at its slowest pace since WWII, and consumers perceive that experience quality has plateaued.
- Executives still don’t accurately identify what consumers want. Behavioral data, social sentiment, and dominant consumer demands are not clear indicators of product uptake. Consumers’ lack of enthusiasm around current innovation isn’t a cultural phenomenon — customers are more willing to experiment today than at any other point in the last 10 years — nor is it an economic condition: Starting a business has low barriers to entry, and VC firms are eager to fuel the next big thing.
With over two decades of trended, multimodal data about global consumer behaviors and attitudes at our fingertips, we’ve spent the last few years immersed in a search for answers: What causes consumers to be open and ready to engage with new experiences or closed and turned off from brand offerings? What does it take to deliver measurable consumer value?
Our studies shed a clarifying light on consumer energy — an emotion-fueled, innovation-embracing force that underpins consumer behaviors and attitudes. Research reveals that consumer energy encompasses four key dimensions — and consumers swing between extremes like a pendulum:
- Identity vs. isolation. Consumers moving toward identity are eager to affiliate with their tribe; those moving toward isolation want to withdraw into their own worlds.
- Trust vs. distrust. Consumers swinging toward trust are willing to believe in a brand’s good intentions; those gravitating toward distrust doubt that companies will keep their promises.
- Novelty vs. comfort. Consumers approaching novelty have growing appetite for risk-taking; those nearing comfort seek reassurance and safety.
- Efficacy vs. vulnerability. Consumers feeling high levels of efficacy are empowered to get what they want; those feeling vulnerable perceive a loss of control.
These findings inspired us to build Forrester’s Consumer Energy Index, a framework that indicates where consumers stand along the spectrum of readiness for innovation by measuring consumer movement along the four key dimensions in near real time: As consumers scale to the right on all four forces, they are ready to engage with innovation; as they scale to the left, they withdraw from new experiences.
Our laser-sharp focus on consumer energy proves that this powerful, predictive force is constantly in flux. Electrifying brand messages such as Nike’s ad campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick ignite consumer energy and spark brand loyalty. Shocking revelations like Facebook’s series of mistakes neutralize consumer energy and repel consumers.
Tune in to my blog to keep a pulse on consumer energy as we publish the critical fluctuations that shape market momentum over the year. In the meantime, join my upcoming webinar or connect via inquiry to learn the full story behind the Consumer Energy Index. Forrester clients can access the detailed report here.