Do you ever wonder what makes people tick? Do you ever feel like you could spend hours people watching? You’re not alone! In fact, there’s a whole professional field dedicated to studying, and understanding, humans. Consumer behavioralist Ken Hughes will give a fascinating presentation on how consumer behaviors have evolved over the past two years and, most importantly, how brands can take these shifts and turn them into new opportunities for meaningful relationship building!
I sat down with him for an interview recently, and simply had to share some of the fast facts about Ken, the work he’s done over the past few years, and what is driving his upcoming keynote at the Retail Innovation Conference & Expo:
1. Ken isn’t in the business of simply selling information.
Ken studies leadership and human interaction. This type of study covers everything from social anthropology, to cyber behaviorism, behavioral economics, sociology and psychology. The goal for Ken is to use this insight as a force for good and positive change.
“I think people always assume that I am there to study their behaviors so that I can sell that information to brands and retailers to make unsuspecting consumers buy more,” Ken said. “I guess there is some truth to that: I want to understand how people live their lives, what they want from their lives, how they want to fulfill their hopes and dreams, and then bring products and services to market that help them do that.”
2. Despite the pandemic’s disruption, Ken believes brands and retailers have more opportunities than ever to serve their customers.
Although digital tools help eliminate friction from the customer experience, and cutting-edge tools and platforms support personalized engagement at scale, the intimate connection is lost. On the surface, this is a big challenge for brands and retailers to address, but Ken believes it is possible! In fact, he believes that is what the next generation of retail, marketing and branding will center around.
“Digital has had an amazing evolution, but we’re at a crossroads where retail leaders are going to ask how they can build emotional human connection into the process, where yes, the customer gets what they want fast and instantly — but also feels that they’re relevant, feels that they’re worth something, and feels that we value their business, the way we value any kind of relationship in our personal lives.”
3. When it comes to retail innovation, Ken believes this is only the beginning.
Gone are the days of the traditional marketplace model where it took hours, even days, to get to a point of commerce. Digital has allowed for instant connection — and instant commerce.
“I think over the next 10 years, even more accelerated change will happen: the business models, the systems and consumer expectations all will change,” he said. “That’s why to work in retail and consumer branding right now is way more exciting than it had been previously. The brands that bring innovation to market can bring a meaningful degree of change to people’s lives through their products and services they bring.
4. But personal trust and love will always be key.
Ken’s keynote, “Love is a Verb,” will focus on how retailers can show to employees and consumers alike how much they value them. By identifying the 10 aspects of healthy relationships, Ken will offer a tactical scorecard to help attendees assess their approach and find new ways to bring their values to life in the customer journey.
“It will be a speech all about human empathy and connection,” Ken said. “My goal will be to have every audience member leave thinking: “Okay, how can we do better across these 10 platforms in our customer journey? How can we bring the brand to life for customers, make them feel something and make them feel that they are connected and in a relationship with us?”