International: New global research from MediaMonks conducted by Forrester Consulting finds that the pandemic has done more than accelerate brands’ digital transformation initiatives, with many marketers already doubling down on what’s next. As consumers rapidly embrace digital behaviors and brands shift to meet needs within virtual lifestyles, the pandemic has exposed gaps in brands’ digital maturity, indicating clear winners in the brand ‘CX race.’ As a result, brands are replacing long-term initiatives with a new approach to re-energize marketing and customer engagement indicating a profound evolution in digital transformation as a service.
“The past decade has been defined by perpetual digital transformation: brands put it in the ‘important but not urgent’ category, consultancies made money on consulting rather than creating, and brands focused on laying technology pipes over enhancing the user experience,” says MediaMonks CMO Kate Richling. “Then COVID happened, serving as a stress test for how transformed brands actually are––revealing just how effective, and necessary, brands’ investment in all this time, money and resources have been.”
MediaMonks, a global creative and production partner, commissioned the report “The Next Phase of Digital Transformation is Brand Virtualization” conducted by Forrester Consulting, which found that savvy brand and agency decision-makers recognize they must re-energize their marketing and customer engagement efforts to deliver on the promises of their digital transformation investments.
What’s next is true, deep brand virtualization––“creating distinct, digital environments in which customers can interact with brands.” While the pandemic may have popularized the term “virtualization,” the future rests on much more than translating experiences and touchpoints into digital. Brand virtualization requires brands to strategically rethink how audiences connect with one another in virtualized worlds––environments in which people and brands increasingly exist today.
“Preparing for virtualization requires refocusing and reskilling your team to build indelible digital experiences,” says MediaMonks Co-Founder Wesley ter Haar. “Consumers don’t fall in love with a brand because of a big idea; they fall in love with the totality of experiences engaging with touchpoints, environments, products and services––gaps that had been exposed in the COVID stress test.”
The research indicates a drastic change in marketers’ priorities between the start of 2020 and today––with over half of marketers noting their top priorities for 2021 and 2022 as investing in digital experience offerings and building a new generation of digital platforms for customer-facing systems in every channel. The coronavirus has crystalized the need for digital experiences for customers wherever they are interacting with brands; in fact, nearly 60% of marketers noted that the pandemic has had a significant impact on their companies’ plans to increase their investment in virtualization.