The nuances of consumer behavior have diversified dramatically over the past few years with a proliferation of devices and mobile network speeds increasing. People haven't changed. The tools that allow them to do what they always wanted to have.
Not long ago, one might hear about a new shoe from a friend on Facebook, 'liked' the photo and asked a few questions, researched where it's available on Google and then went to the store to make a purchase. That was in the era of 'new media' when marketers talked about consumers using new channels and word of mouth to discover new products. That scenario seems simple by today's standards.
Behavior has become more divergent. No one wants exactly the same thing, and now they have more tools and accessibility to act on those unique motivations. For example, the person with the shoe above may love the design and have generally good feelings about the brand, but while standing in the store, he may wonder about the factory conditions of where the shoe was made, where the materials came from or even what others who share his unique passion for kayaking (yeah… he's a kayaker) thought of the shoe. There, in the store, he can act on his internal motivations, research them and then act on them, making or breaking a purchase. The brand faces many more hurdles and questions before closing the sale.
People and their motivations have always been divergent. We're all unique. But technology allows our behavior to follow suit in the marketplace. Before consumerism was largely formulaic with the same products being offered from the same retailers. People had to make compromises. Now, they can get something truly unique from a boutique seller on Etsy. One can back a project that would have never had a chance of becoming a reality before on Kickstarter.
People have more paths to the same end than ever before, and this should make marketers nervous.
It's a question worth consideration today more than ever because if there isn't a good answer, people can and will go another direction with their purchase decision. Amazon answers 'why us?' with convenience. Tom's Shoes appeals to one's sense of helping others by donating shoes with each purchase. Warby Parker aims to upend the eye wear industry with high style at low costs, and by the way, they deliver to your door.
Brands are selling more than just a product or service. They're selling a message and lifestyle, and brand messaging through advertising, social media posts and owned properties can only communicate that to a point. Brands have to bring their messages to life through action, sharing that action and getting others, including both personal and mass influencers, to share as well.
Technology allows consumers to unbridle their behavior that was previously limited by technology, which causes challenges for brands, but in the same way consumers are using technology, brands can use a little ju jitsu and leverage that same technology to explain 'Why Us' with greater reach and velocity than ever before. They'll have to. Technology's not slowing down, and behaviors will only grow more divergent over time.