Convenience is No Longer a Differentiator

Blame Robert Wodruff.  In 1923 he became president of the Coca Cola company at the age of 33, four years after his father Ernest bought the company from Asa Chandler.  Wodruff's vision was to put Coca Cola "within arm's length of desire" for every human being in the world.  He innovated with the Coke six pack; created a great free standing cooler, took Coke to the 1928 Olympic games, and followed the US Army around the world so that no matter where in the globe they were fighting, the American soldier could have a ice cold Coke, and he built his global brand and distribution in the process. It is safe to say, the man understood convenience! wodruff

Add the coming of the internet and the three clouds of connectivity, resources, and social connection -- which I have written about before.  The world is linked, enhanced, and has a social layer lathered on top of it like so much Glidden paint on a bar stool.  1.5 billion people a day send email, and about half the world's 6+ billion people have cell phones.

The implication is that every consumer, everywhere, everytime -- no longer looks at convenience as a differentiator.  If you are not available, you just drop out of the consideration set -- no hurt, no foul.  They don't notice that you're missing.

I know I'm making the extreme form of this argument, but if you believe its right in its central claim -- that convenience is assumed, and becoming more assumed with the millenials and other generations behind -- every company has to start from the premise that they need to efficiently be on all major platforms -- internet, phone, and in physical locations when relevant.  The challenge is to become efficient in serving all these different channels and locations.  The conundrum is how do you do it well?

There are some companies that are early in this process.  Kraft foods has its iFood, iPhone application, which was the second most downloaded application in the lifestyle category - despite the fact that you have to pay $0.99 for it.   For some categories, convenience means being on the body of your customer, on the phone.  For others, it means being available through any means of communication.  For others still it is about being integrated into different platforms -- so that a person can tweet their ratings of your product, service or experience.

It is time, once again, to really understand customer experience in a deep and anthropological way -- for only then can you begin to know what the expectations of today's consumers have evolved to...

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