Upcoming at unBoxed: Creating authentic connections in a digital world

October 20, 2021 | By: By: Jareen Imam, Sr. Content and Editorial Manager

Imagine this: a person gets up, signs into work from home. On their lunch break, they take a live fitness class in their living room. They order groceries that are delivered to their doorstep at the end of their workday. To unwind, they listen to a podcast through their smart device while cooking. Then they cap the night off by streaming the latest movie everyone is chatting about on social media. They do all of this without ever leaving their home.

For some shoppers, this may be their daily routine.

As technology continues to advance, more aspects of our lives are turning digital. From the sleep you get, to the meetings you take, to the connections you make, apps are now optimizing your health life, work life, and social life. And the events of 2020 and 2021 have only accelerated that process with working remotely, video chatting, and streaming content becoming increasingly common for some consumers.

But as lives become more digital a majority of consumers are seeking connections beyond the screen. In fact, 8 in 10 customers in the United States and Europe said they wanted real connections, according to an Environics Research/Amazon Ads survey of 1,200 people in June 2021.1

“I yearn for real-life experiences, slowness, and authentic human connections rather than the more digitally-based lifestyles that new technologies are creating,” one survey respondent said.

At this year’s unBoxed conference, Amazon’s VP of Brand, Claudine Cheever, will discuss how consumer behaviors and expectations are transforming and how brands can connect with these consumers in authentic ways.

quoteUpBrand building has always been about connecting with customers, but the bar has been raised over the past year and a half. Customers expect more, looking to businesses and brands to share their values and act on them in more ways than ever.quoteDown
– Claudine Cheever, VP, Global Brand

Connecting with audiences where they already are

Not only are consumers looking for real connections; they want to make those connections on their own terms. For example, 9 in 10 customers in the US and Europe want to decide when and where they interact with a brand.2 These consumers tend to value more intimate connections over technological connections. They may make their purchases based on factors like aesthetics, simplicity, and emotions.3

Brands looking to connect with these consumers should consider meeting them where they are, whether that’s physically, digital, or even emotionally. For example, in 2020, as more people shifted to staying at home, activities like cooking, streaming movies, and shopping online increased. Those at-home activities had influenced shopping habits. For instance, in June 2020, dough blenders topped the kitchen category’s list of US Movers & Shakers, meaning people were doing a lot more baking at home.4

Since more people are spending time at home, households streaming content like movies, TV shows, news, and live sports have also increased substantially. Back in April 2020, total households streaming via connected TVs increased 29%, compared to the same time last year, while total households streaming via boxes/sticks increased 43%.5

Earning customer trust through empathy

Meeting customers where they are extends beyond where they’re shopping or engaging with content online. Nowadays, customers are also looking to identify with brands that share their social values. In fact, 71% of Americans believe companies have more responsibility than ever before to address social justice issues.6

Customers who are searching for authentic connections may lean on communication to develop those relationships. They may be seeking out genuine messaging from brands. They want communication that expresses empathy and is aware of the struggles they are facing, according to a March 2020 survey by Edelman, which found that 83% of global respondents want compassionate connections.7

Authentic connections can transform to “brand love”

Customers also want to see that compassion by brands directed at other aspects of life, like how brands interact with the planet, and how brands address social issues. Aligning in shared values isn’t enough for today’s customers though. They also want to see what brands are doing more to make things better within neighborhoods, communities, and cities. For example, 9 in 10 consumers in both the US and Europe appreciate when a brand is a responsible corporate citizen (89% United States, 87% Europe).8

One way brands can start forming these authentic connections and demonstrating their values is through storytelling. Stories can convey important messages, information, and facts while also engaging customers in an impactful way. Stories can help customers better understand a brand’s mission. They can also leave customers feeling hopeful, excited, and optimistic about the future.

A compelling brand story that customers can identify or relate with can help form stronger connections, which is important in helping customers make purchasing decisions. In fact, 90% of customers say authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support.9

Brands looking to learn more about authentic connections and how it could lead to “brand love,” a customer’s affinity to a brand, and loyalty can tune into Amazon Ads’ 2021 unBoxed conference, happening from October 26-27. At this event, experts at Amazon and beyond will explore this growing consumer trend and discuss ways brands can reach customers searching for real and meaningful connections.

1 Environics, Social Values Global Consumer Themes, US and Europe, 2021
2 Environics, Social Values Global Consumer Themes, US and Europe, 2021
3 Environics, Social Values Global Consumer Themes, US and Europe, 2021
4 Amazon Internal Data, Amazon.com Movers and Shakers, kitchen category, as of 6/4/2020
5 "Understanding Media Consumption During the COVID-19 Pandemic." US, Comscore, April 2020. Based on direct TV measurement of 30M+ households
6 Environics, Social Values Global Consumer Themes, US and Europe, 2021
7 Richard Edelman, “Trust Barometer Special Report,” Edelman, US, last modified March 30, 2020
8 Environics, Social Values Global Consumer Themes, US and Europe, 2021
9 Environics, Social Values Global Consumer Themes, US and Europe, 2021