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What Accenture Song’s behaviorial research tells us about brand loyalty and Web3 in 2023

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Brands will have to become experts on their avid fans in 2023 to succeed.

Consulting giant Accenture’s marketing/branding/advertising arm Accenture Song’s annual human behavior trends report, which will be released later this week, identifies the cultural shifts impacting brand loyalty, the workplace and decentralization technologies in the coming year. And against the backdrop of “macroeconomic shocks” in recent years, people will continue to speak out against injustice, try different digital platforms and focus on what they can control.

“It feels to many people like the world is stumbling from one crisis to another, and when you look at things like inflation and the supply of energy, people are sort of existentially worried about where the world is going,” said Mark Curtis, head of innovation at Accenture Song.

“They’re beginning to internalize how to adapt, and they’re looking for ways in which they can exercise some sort of degree of control over their lives,” Curtis said.

When it comes to how that affects brand loyalty, the report noted that people are increasingly seeking out new places online to feel a greater sense of belonging. This is where brands will need to focus on engaging their consumer base, and these behaviors may reshape loyalty programs that focus on “community-first, product-later models” that connect people with a brand, the report also found. This could lead to more adoption of non-fungible tokens, artificial intelligence-generated art and even digital wallets in the future.

Especially as major social media platforms become more filtered with algorithms deprioritizing friends’ posts, the platforms that thrive will focus on interests and activities that connect people. Some of these include Reddit, Discord and Twitch, where “it’s easy to find their tribe of people who will actively listen, engage in,” according to the “Life Trends” report, as it’s called.

The majority of Accenture’s study participants said they tried a new hobby or joined a new community in the past six to nine months. And as Digiday previously reported, there is a social media trend shifting to more about communities rather than personas. Some online groups can even spawn from people collecting digital goods or reacting to moments in sports or news.

“Passion points and niche interests are the ties that bind on digital,” said Cristina Lawrence, evp of consumer and content experience at Razorfish. “Interest-targeting is the key to creating radically relevant messages and creative experiences that mean something to real people.”

As far as how communities apply to Web3, a decentralized concept of the internet, Accenture points to the importance of brands being open to experimentation. For example, Starbucks has been testing a tokenized loyalty program called Odyssey. Brands that can focus on providing rewards and engaging customers will see greater success than ones that focus too much on the technology itself.

“For universal success, the technology needs to recede into the background and the benefit needs to come to the foreground,” Curtis told Digiday.

There have been other examples of businesses trying to create Web3 communities in the mainstream. Twitter and Instagram introduced features for NFT user profile pictures, and Reddit launched an NFT marketplace for people to buy blockchain profile pictures at a fixed rate, in addition to offering digital avatars for its site and mobile app.

Holding giant Dentsu earlier this year also partnered with Microsoft to create a metaverse learning space to guide clients in Web3 efforts. As Val Vacante, vp of solutions and innovation at Dentsu, explained, its metaverse initiative is aimed at figuring out how to actually support clients interested in Web3 programs.

“We encourage this as a test and learn for all brands,” Vacante previously told Digiday. “There are brands who just throw a ton of money into whatever is new, right? But in reality, a lot of brands don’t have that opportunity.”

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