Blog Post - Naji El-Arifi, Jan 3 2020

Is your brand going to be that important to me in the future?

Is your brand going to be that important to me in the future?

I was thinking about the question of whether brands are still going to be important in the future. This then led me to look at my own experience and whether brands are getting more or less important. The short answer is that the brand name, for me, is going to become less important as I shift to a more needs-based approach to purchasing.

Personally I think the power of the brand is going to slowly fade. I don't mean that they are not going to exist but more that they are going to become less important when choosing a product. My thinking is based on the fact that technology is playing a bigger and bigger part of the shopping experience. For example, recommendation engines and personalisation is going to focus on providing the best possible product for us.

It is more than likely that in the future you will have your own personal assistant that is trying to make every part of your life better and easier. Let’s say it’s time to buy a car or a washing machine. You could do your own research… or you get your digital assistant to do it. ”Send me the top 3 washing machines for less than £400”. In a couple of minutes you will get a notification that your digital assistant has 3 examples that fit your particular needs or preferences.

This will mean that, to get to this point, a brand name has not even been considered - machines don't care about brands unless we programme them to. It will all be about the product that the brand is selling and if it meets the users’ specifications. Initially, for some consumers, this may include brand value or reputation, but I’d expect this to recede.

This ultimately means that the list that the user will eventually choose from will have already been carefully triaged and probably scored. Based on your selection criteria, it will most likely be a short list that you are given - why would you ever wish to scroll through a long list on a website again if there was no need to? Long lists are time-consuming and involve you having to do a load of work to make a final decision. Being provided just a short list to choose from is much more convenient, especially when it has already been shortlisted.

In the end, an AI will scour the whole internet looking at reviews and ratings, looking through manuals for ease of use and maybe even insurance claims to capture a true picture of reliability. All this data would be processed and analysed, after which it would be presented to the user in the form of a top 3 for instance. All you have to do is choose one of them.

The major change here will be that those that make the best products, proven with data, will be the winners. We will also start to see the number of emotional purchases start to decline as more logic is introduced to the mix. We will start to make purchase decisions like Spock all cold hard logic.

The future is going to be tough for brands - tougher than it is now for sure, especially as they will no longer be able to lean as heavily on their heritage. Users are now far happier to give new brands a chance, and they’re far less loyal as our Future Shopper surveys have discovered. This should encourage other brands to focus on delivering an all round great experience for their customers - and that’s got to be a good thing. Where this has to start is with a fantastic product. If it’s not great, trust me you won’t convince me to buy it.

Wish to explore this further?

Here’s our view on 8 major challenges facing brands in a digital-first world, including:

  • Why brands need to change because of marketplaces and the "thumbnailisation" of the brand
  • Why brands need to make DTC work!
  • How Zero UI will change how brands are chosen and perceived
  • How brands will have to become omnichannel and innovative
  • How Gen Z wants to interact via social

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