The Rise of Digital Darwinism

Digital Darwinism, according to industry expert Brian Solis, is the evolution of consumer behavior when society and technology evolve faster than one’s ability to adapt. Solis has been studying this concept for quite some time. To better familiarize yourself with this potential threat, check out the dramatic but thought provoking video that details Digital Darwinism and plugs his book The End of Business as Usual.

We have seen brands fall victim to Digital Darwinism. Such brands have fallen from grace due to competitors recognizing the change first, or even worse, by the time they realize the change it is already too late.

To further explore Digital Darwinism, we need to first understand the evolution of the consumer.  Solis describes the Traditional Consumer as one that is susceptible to media that we all know very well such as print, TV, radio, and direct mail.  Then came another type of consumer in which we focused on online tactics such as SEO, SEM, web optimization and E-Commerce strategies. According to Solis, there is a new kind of consumer called the “Connected Consumer.” This type of consumer is different from its traditional and digital counterparts because he or she is not defined by a time period or age but instead is defined by his or her level of interest in technology.

The Connected Consumer is empowered by technology.

In 2011, IBM conducted a digital consumer survey that further drilled down on the Connected Consumer notion.  Those surveyed fell into one of the following categories:

1. Efficiency Experts: With 41% in this category, these consumer types use digital to simplify their day-to-day activities.  They often use mobile to browse the web, and will use email as a main form of communication.  Efficiency experts are less social and more about finding pragmatic ways to make their lives easier.

2. Content Kings: Mostly male and representing 9% of the global sample, Content Kings watch and download movies, music and play video games online. They are more content-driven but less social.

3. Social Butterflies: You’ve seen this type before. The Social Butterflies are those that frequently update  social media sites and will take it a step further by adding labels and tags to online videos. They are the clever updaters we see on Twitter and Facebook and they need instant access to friends.  15% of the global sample are Social Butterflies.

4. Connected Maestros: This growing population (35%) combines the Social Butterfly and the Content King but has a more advanced approach to technology.  This type of consumer is likely very interested in content and social interaction.

So which type of consumer are you? And why do we care?

It’s important to understand consumer behavior so that we can gauge how it will affect business.  Going back to the idea of Digital Darwinism, it is important now more than ever to “make business relevant.”  As advertisers, we need to make sure that what we are putting out is compelling.  The consumer, especially the Connected Consumer, expects relevant and enhanced experiences.  We also need to consider a consumer’s digital personality and how differently we may want to approach that consumer.

Change is scary but we have arrived at an exciting new era that compels advertisers to deliver relevant and engaging content, understand and listen to consumers, and focus on strategy rather than impulse.

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