THE JOY OF CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE: MEANING AND CONNECTION

We have all fallen victim to FOMO, that fear that we are missing out on something important. Marketing executives have used it for years, fear being a powerful motivator. The ‘only 2 seats left at this price’ pop-up as you search your airfare, the ‘last few tickets remaining’ notification – all designed to stimulate your FOMO. But fear (and the associated shame, guilt, and disappointment about missing out) are all negative emotions, and while they may trigger purchase, it comes from a negative space.

JOMO, The Joy of Missing Out

JOMO (The Joy of Missing Out) is its antidote, consumers prioritising their self-care, meaning, and disconnection over any feelings of FOMO. An acknowledgment that a life of doom-scrolling social media offers little value to the self, that connecting with one’s inner meaning and purpose is far more rewarding.

From a consumer trend perspective, there are two interesting components to JOMO that a brand or business can leverage to improve the connection with their customers

 

1.Take a break to disconnect

Over 2020/2021 society was given a wake-up call. The pandemic and resulting sheltering in place and lockdowns helped us reprioritise the things in life that mattered. We collectively learned that we were living life at too fast a pace, had forgotten all that mattered – connection with loved ones.

We got to spend more time together, quality time, we rediscovered our homes, gardens, our hobbies. But after all the sourdough baking and jigsaws, what did we collectively learn? Sadly, very little. Society snapped back to its fast-paced hamster wheel.

But while you may find yourself yearning for some of that stillness and introspective living, there has been a significant societal questioning around permanent connection and the value of taking some space for self.

The Two Lumberjacks Story

Let me tell you a story. There are two lumberjacks, who turn up to work in the forest every morning at the same time. They chop trees, and end their day at the same time. The only difference is that one lumberjack disappears for an hour every day. Frustratingly, for the lumberjack that stays, his colleague cuts more trees.

After several days, he can’t take it anymore. He asks his colleague ‘how do you do it? We arrive at the same time, work all day, leave at the same time, you even disappear for an hour every day while I continue to work, and yet you cut down more trees than me. How?’

His colleague simply replies ‘oh I take a break to go home and sharpen my axe’.

We need breaks. We need to recharge, to disconnect. We need time to think, to find the joy in what we are doing. There is a global frustration evident in society relating to the hamster wheel everyone is on.  And the clever brands are acknowledging it.

The Nestle Kit Kat brand has had it’s ‘Have a Break, Have a Kit Kat’ tagline since the 1950s, both a play on snapping the chocolate wafer and a prompt for the ideal use and occasion for the chocolate confectionery.

In one famous campaign entitled ‘You Are Not a Salmon’, the brand stood up for the right to take a break.

A salmon relentlessly swims up stream, fighting currents, navigating waterfalls, drags itself over rocks, never stops, never rests, battling its way upstream, giving up only when it arrives at its destination, lays its eggs, and then dies. Remember, you are not a salmon.

Consumers value space, self-care, time, and a slower pace. As we head deeper into our digital immersion as a society, as 5G, AI and even more devices are added to the mix, the consumer value around disconnection is going to strengthen.  You need to have a think about how you can leverage this disconnection value through your brand communications.

2. Look Inward for Purpose

Much of the capitalist society we have built has been constructed focused on the outward. Material possession as a signifier of status, brands and logos communicating tribe, social media feeds curated to portray a one-sided avatar of the self.

But there is a marked shift inward over recent years. Many individuals have become more interested in their own inner self and inner world than outward projection, and are looking to partner with brands that share a similar outlook.

JOSI (The Joy of Staying In)

Evidence of a more introspective life is all around us, a world built around the self. An extension of JOMO is JOSI (The Joy of Staying In). For consumers, this is the marked joy they feel in having their food delivered right to their door by Deliveroo (instead of the effort in having to make their way to the restaurant). They then settle in to watch their movie on Disney+ as opposed to the effort of making their way to a cinema.  To ‘Netflix & Chill’ has replaced the traditional bar/restaurant date for many, avoiding the awkward ‘do you want to come back to mine for coffee’ conversation at the taxi rank.

While we had a strange relationship with JOSI over the pandemic (for many the elongated restrictions around being forced to stay in were anything buy joyful), there certainly seems to be an emotive consumer benefit to staying in, beyond the convenience.

This is also evident in the late-night bar and nightclub closures we are seeing internationally over the past 10 years. Aside from the increasing costs of running these businesses, it is compounded by the lower demand from the Gen Z consumer for the ‘big night out’. While they will attend on occasion, in-home drinking and socialisation, together with substantial digital connection, has significantly eroded the nightclub product proposition. There was a time the nightclub was one of the primary locations someone in their 20s would meet others. Today, that is more likely to happen by sliding into someone’s DMs on Insta or swiping on Tinder.

Consumers are looking for joy in their lives. If you look at the changes in the wellness industry, it is less about the outward physical (gym/yoga) and has shifted more toward the introspective (mindfulness, breathwork and sound baths). People are looking to connect with the self, to find their own inner-joy.

Gen Z and Millennials have also significantly catalysed the crafting industry, inspired by TikTok and YouTube videos. There is also a similar resurgence in cooking and baking skills, joy found in their inspiration on social media feeds and then subsequent participation and re-posting.

What this all points to is a desire to seek joy, meaning and purpose. That we are looking at a consumer culture curious about making more meaningful choices. And this means that every brand and business needs to consider its position around meaning and purpose.

You Swim is an ethically produced swimsuit brand from Perth, advocating for self-love and body positivity with its one-size fits all product.  Regardless of your size, shape or how that might change over the year, their fabric and design will always fit, celebrating the female form regardless.

Billy footwear provides fashionable shoes for everybody, regardless of their mobility challenges with its universal design. Born out of necessity (their founder was paralysed in an accident in his teens and unable to put on his own shoes), the product prides itself on inclusivity across all ages and abilities.

 

Rubies in the Rubble is a UK condiment brand, aimed at reducing food waste. Their products are made from surplus fruits and vegetables that would otherwise go to waste, their purpose to make delicious food in a sustainable way.

So, how does your brand bring self-joy to the individual? How can you support the consumer and their quest for space, time, and disconnection? How can you better communicate your own purpose, meaning and link it to theirs?

Your customer is not only interested in what you are selling, but also in the why. They want more than just ‘the thing’, they are looking to self-actualise, to live their lives with more joy. Find a way to reflect that and you become more relevant as a brand.

You could also try your own spiritual self-actualisation journey and turn up at work in bare feet, dressed in robes and wooden beads. It might not help much, but it’ll definitely make the resulting HR meeting request a bit of fun.

Ken Hughes, known as The King of Customer Experience on the International Conference Circuit, studies emerging consumer behaviour and helps businesses and brands establish deeper and more relevant connections with their customers.

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