In our bid to become frictionless, we’ve forgotten the importance of anticipation

Most brands strive to make their customer journey as frictionless as possible. But how does that explain why people queue for hours for a ride at Disneyland or wait weeks to see their football team suffer a crushing defeat? Interbrand's Davy Rennie explores the forgotten world of friction.

We live in a world of frictionless, seamless, mindless consumption of services and products. From ordering a movie on Google Play, paying for a beer, to getting onto a bus. We just tap, tap, consume.

We live in a world of non-occasions

Where has the magic of investing in a product gone? Like finally getting your hands on a physical DVD when it’s released months after you saw it at the cinema? Where has the human engagement with the people providing services gone?

The world has become a vending machine, where anything you want is accessible with a single tap.

From ordering groceries online, to buying a house or car. We have lost the sense of occasion.

There is no question that occasion is desired.

Just look at the ‘drop’ phenomenon – when brands release small quantities of product, driving massive engagement and creating queues around the block. You can’t skip the queue.

Customers still queue for the latest iPhone drop

Monday night football in the US is a birth right. It’s a ritual. It’s a sense of occasion that drives sociable engagement and conversation. You can’t binge the season to see the result.

Weekend markets, where local producers sell their wares, gather communities together. You have to invest your time and energy walking around and exploring.

Does the friction in these examples make the engagement more meaningful? Does the meaningful engagement create experience ‘love’?

Yes. I believe it does. I firmly believe you cannot love something that can be mindlessly consumed or acquired.

I believe friction creates the incredible. It’s why people queue up at Disneyland for hours to get 32 seconds of absolute exhilaration. It’s part of the experience, part of the occasion.

Seamless engagements can augment experiences, but shouldn’t create mindlessness. But how can we create this?

Signature moments that matter

The concept of ‘moments that matter’ isn’t new. They are significant moments on the customer journey. But brands must create their own signature moments.

These service moments will make you, you. Like the coffee shop in Melbourne that mandates a pallets cleanser before your coffee – super hipster, but it builds anticipation and a sense of occasion. And evokes brand love.

Don’t screen slap

The future of retail is not an environment with screens everywhere. It’s a considered experience that encourages human interaction. We consume digital content all day, everyday. Do we need more screens shouting at us, or environments that are beautifully designed to immerse us in the softer qualities of the brand?

Like the denim store in Tokyo that has a workshop in the middle of the store where you can watch a craftsman meticulously shape a pair of jeans, and chat to them. Beautiful.

Meaningful human conversations

“*Hi Bob*, *G’day Bob*, *Bob* we have the offer for you”. The typical website/email/sms “personalised offer message”. This isn’t meaningful or personal. It’s just the norm.

Actually understanding a customer is knowing the softer things that make them, them. Like how they prefer the cut of their jacket, the cut of beef or their haircut. We need to ‘really’ understand customer idiosyncrasies, not just their generic characteristics.

Friction builds anticipation.

Anticipation builds occasion.

Occasion builds signature moments that matter.

Being human in those moments creates love.

Davy Rennie is managing director of Interbrand Australia.


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