The new consumer is… an avatar! In reality, the public has been an avatar for many decades. What if not Big Data or the exponential opportunity of a smartphone to turn consumers into sensors in real-time and, on top of that, geolocate them. A hybrid public in a world where the digital and the physical mix so much that they begin to show no limits or borders, neither in business models nor in the global impact and sustainability.
Even if we don’t know it, we are already an avatar. Not only if we are on social networks, we like to get lost in some massive game or travel to some metaverse to see a concert also because there is a profile of us on the network and in the hands of brands and companies that manage our data. Data that builds what we could call a personal Digital Twin in an automated way.
The Digital Twin concept, very much in vogue metaverse, is a reality that has allowed us to clone ourselves and become an unconscious avatar full of data. Including the long-awaited behavioral data: remember the deployment of Amazon in its behavioral targeting mechanics on the web and with Amazon Go: finally, it obtains behavioral data from the retail public in physical reality.
The need to see this consumer in terms of data has a lot to do with the arrival of Internet 2.0, where the social and personalized component became clear and demanding. In that web 2.0. marketing assumes the reality of a mass interpersonal medium, with the ability to communicate with hundreds of thousands of people but attending to their personalized tastes and contacting by name and surname. Getting quality leads without often knowing what to use certain data for is now a necessity with a real objective: to understand to better connect with the consumer.
Understanding the consumer is more necessary than ever, not only to discover their needs, and unfortunately also their weaknesses, but to be able to form part of their lifestyle, and without prioritizing the interest for the obvious business interest (which must be having it…), if not also assuming care, responsibility for their rights and making them participate in our purpose (the one that gives us meaning beyond exponential profit).
Under the premise of social and cultural capital and the existence of Big Data and our potential avatar, we discovered that the relationship experience must be personalized. It is no longer worth deciding our public with demographic, biological, or class data. In its day, it is here to stay: the lifestyle. It is the key to accessing the new hybrid consumer.
And Lifestyle-Centrism Prevailed
The lifestyle-centric concept, which prevails over the traditional product-centric, user-centric, or brand-centric strategic vision, allows us not to think of generation X but of a spectrum of the public committed to their lifestyle. Life, looking to see if they like sports, if they are a fan of the opera or if they have children, with what that entails. Whether it’s someone from X, Z, Millennials, or the “victims” of the Babyboom.
Attending a lifestyle means assuming a strategy related to the intimate and the human with the community. It is not worth a machine-building an automatic avatar from its collected data without sensitivity. It is about that we can personalize, and we must look with the eyes of those who have a human in front of us like this—design with a human-centric vision.
To undertake human-centric connection and creativity exercises or to propose a human-centered design, it is necessary to assume that the public is divided into layers, like the design of a website or onions. And in total, I have detected six layers, although it is likely that these will increase or merge or evolve.
The Public 6.0
The target audience seems to have six layers. Each person has six layers. Six vertices allow you to aim sensitively and efficiently when you have to innovate or make decisions for the future and count on your attention and trust. We are a person, citizens, consumers, spectators, workers, and avatars.
The first essential is that the target… is a person as is and without further pretensions. He is a person with his fears, insecurities, vocations, strengths, possibilities, and the long etcetera that life provides. For example, when you design intelligent voice devices, you soon come to the need to build a virtual personality. Because it is the personality, especially the voice, the moment we make a relationship construct and imagine who we are talking to, even the terrible biases arise. But that’s what there is. The Metaverse, if we think about it, will be much more effective to the ear than to the eye. But that is another topic.
The second layer of our public is that it is a citizen. Share space and live with other people, seek refuge, have decision-making capacity, and currently even cancel. You have rights but also responsibilities, and your ideas become a differentiating element while being the engine that makes the society in which we live possible.
The third layer is that we are consumers. It is evident that regardless of the political system we live in, consumption is a reality, from necessities such as water and food to the desire to appear to be riding around in a sports car. If we look around, everything is relativized towards consumption.
Within consumption and attending to the trend of the Metaverse and the challenges of marketing departments increasingly in need of attention and brand visibility in search of “love,” we soon realize that an essential layer for our platforms to work, campaigns, and messages are that he is also a spectator. We need to disconnect, that we love to have a good time.
There is another layer that usually goes unnoticed and that by default is essential in our lifestyle: work, those who can are workers. We spend more time in the office, thinking about work or interacting with colleagues than living experiences with friends or enjoying family. That is why the culture in the company goes beyond making a purpose possible or launching innovation processes. It is also a care and encounter because we talk about talent and collaboration.
And last, but increasingly important, is the final layer in our hybrid reality. We are avatars. Whether we like it or not. We are amazed by the new superpowers, such as ubiquity or multitasking or digital shopping 24/7, just as we are amazed when we discover that we already exist in the virtual-digital even though we don’t know it or don’t want to. There is already a personal digital representation in the form of an avatar that is now open to us so that we can adopt and adapt it. Make it ours and include it in our lifestyle.
There are six layers to facing a more demanding, informed public that asks more than ever for us to get to know them but not spies on them. That calls for a more transparent, collaborative relationship where biased foundations of what we want, desire, or need are not taken for granted.
Suppose we want to design, create or plan and assume a human vision. In that case, I am afraid we will have to start by generating trust, attending to the different layers without isolating them, and, above all, demanding the sensitivity that we ask for ourselves. We need a human-centered communication that allows us to leap to new spaces such as the Metaverse, access audiences unthinkable until now for our brands, or build a real long-term relationship in a hybrid world full of uncertainties. No more, no less.