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With more than 1.5 billion consumers worldwide accessing their smart phones an average of 150 times per day, we’ve never been more mobile, social or connected with the Internet - and with each other - than we are this very minute.

While there are myriad benefits to behold with an “always on” culture, there are serious business implications as well. Companies of all shapes and sizes need to reach, engage and consistently serve buyers (that’s you and me) with…what?

It’s a tough question to answer and, quite frankly, forcing many businesses to scramble and figure out how to deliver compelling products and simple experiences in the right place, at the right time.

Thankfully, a panel of experts were on hand during the recent SAP Radio Broadcast, “Using Real-time Consumer Insights” to enlighten listeners with tips and tricks for businesses to cope in today’s “always on” culture.

Adapting to unrealistic expectations

According to Dan Berthiaume, Senior Technology Editor for Chain Store Age, today’s “always on” digital culture has so much information at their fingertips, they expect this same level of instant access with everything in their lives.

“They expect to get any item they want, right away and have it delivered if not same day, in a very short period of time,” said Berthiaume. “They really are expecting everything to be handed to them by their smart phone, whether that’s practically done or not.”

Jerry Wolfe, CEO of Vivanda (a spinoff of spice maker McCormick & Co.) says these digital expectations are impacting 50% of the packaged goods purchased across the 14 billion shopping trips that take place every year, which means businesses need to update outmoded selling tactics.

“Doing things the way we always have with temporary price reduction at the shelf makes no sense, that’s the insanity of it,” said Wolfe. “There’s lots of efficient ways to think about engaging the connected consumer and being useful and driving choice.”

Pietro Pieretti, Managing Director at Accenture agrees.

“What’s here today may not be here tomorrow or in one week or in one month. The ability to adopt and change continually is the new norm.”

Blurring the lines of wants and needs

E. J. Kenney, who leads the Consumer Products Industry and Agribusiness for SAP, believes today’s "always on" society has blurred the lines between “wants” and “needs.”

“Choices and actions are happening so much faster,” said Kenney. “These rapid shifts in consumer behaviors have had substantial and profound impacts on the business processes across the entire consumer products enterprise.”

Kenney believes these changes in behavior alter how we attract and engage consumers. It also can impact what markets businesses enter, how they collaborate with suppliers and retail partners.

“Frankly, it is a core issue of the industry that technology can help address. And the more a consumer products company can understand a consumer’s needs and specifically create that need or that desire, then they really have something.”

Making the social connection

According to Chain Store Age’s Berthiaume, brands are taking advantage of the direct connection they can make to consumers through social media platforms – which means they really don’t even need the retailer to send their message or directly engage.

Hood Ice Cream, for instance, ran a promotion that involved one of their trucks giving out free samples. The official Hood Twitter account ran updates of where the truck would be next.

“I think we’re looking at social media not just as a way for consumers to directly engage with one another, but for brands to directly engage with consumers,” said Berthiaume. “The retail middleman is not quite as important in that relationship anymore.”

Vivanda’s Wolfe also sees social media as a great way to build awareness and maintain engagement.

“Many of the ideas consumer goods companies generate for their own purpose on social media can be repackaged into a service that they can expose through to their retail partners so they can connect the dots. It’s one thing to make consumers aware, it’s another thing to activate and convert them.”

To learn more about activating and converting the “always on” consumer, listen to this SAP Radio broadcast in its entirety here.

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