We all have a different relationship to our finances and how it shapes our interactions with the world around us — from savings and income, to expenses, loans and investments. As such, we all have inherently different, and typically emotional, relationships with our shopping habits and decision making processes. This, in turn, affects the brands we choose to support, services we use, shops we frequent, and causes with which we align or contribute.
Tech companies have an increasingly important role and unique ability to celebrate the diverse nuances in consumers’ identities, how they express and represent themselves, and empower impact-driven decision making. Considering the growing demand from consumers for transparency, tech products should foster an empathetic understanding and approach towards humanizing experiences based on values and multiple intersections.
Between consumers, particularly those with similar hobbies, economic privilege, or of shared political views, there’s noticeable overlap in consumption patterns often defined by a combination of the world around them, and what they see or do online. This might include word of mouth among friends, pop culture, trendy IG accounts and social influencers, regional brands, or tendencies passed down in your family.
However, consumers have become selective, and are demanding experiences, goods and services, that speak to them and that let them speak out in their unique worlds. This might mean supporting a brand from the B Corp or 1% for the Planet movements, being wary of climate pledges and carbon footprints, preferring to put their hard-earned cash behind, for example, Black women-owned women-owned businesses, or a combination of all of the above.
It’s no surprise that as consumers become increasingly aware, of both the good and the bad that’s in the world around them, that this extends to the decision making process in how or where they decide to allocate their money.
Technology helps shift purchasing behavior in ways already taking place in micro-communities to become more intentional, sustainable, and impactful. One such realization of this is through the creation, maintenance, and aggregation of community-driven databases.
The amount of research to build and maintain such lists is difficult. It takes a large team of moderators, researchers, or a community of ambassadors to achieve an always-up-to-date database complete with the contextual information about everyday shops and brands. However, with the rise of community ambassadors, such as those contributing towards Google Maps’ reviews, the average consumer becomes an investigator or analyst into the operations of any given organization. This sees engaged consumers graduate from the days of Yelp reviews, to defining whether or not a business is wheelchair accessible, adheres to COVID-19 safety practices, or recycles their leftovers at the end of the day (hello, Too Good To Go!). Engaged consumers prefer to be involved in defining the shops, and world, around them — and giving them the opportunity to contribute is now a core pillar in scaling impact-based tech companies.
How we see this evolving today is through creation of community-involved moderation practices, in essence reflected as discovery filters that allow for us to shop, visit, and support organizations that check our contextual boxes necessary for any given individual to proceed with the purchase. Todays’ generations, rising into positions of experience and purchasing power, are demanding not only context, but also convenience in every part of their day-to-day lives, and this translates to the ways they discover new brands, shops, or services. Think Spotify Discover channels, but for ‘experiences in the world around you that you might be into’, with added layers like ownership, sustainability, or impact.
Tech companies, and specifically directories, must deploy strategies with objective, nonjudgmental, inclusive, and participatory products that give power back to humans spending to be more engaged, or in-control of how they interact with the world around them — on their own terms. There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach here, as tech, human behavior, and innovative new companies have the ability to rapidly shift industry dynamics. However, if not engrained in a company’s vision of their “users”, a state of paralysis may ensue, leading to the neglect of any basic support for niche consumers. The idea is to go beyond the traditional approach to marketing – using demographic personas – and include more proactive foundations by building blocks around richer identity intersections, cause-related contexts, and ethical values.
The companies, brands or platforms considering how they might empower niche sub-cultures and support intersectionality at scale will ultimately be the ones that gain trust and approval from modern consumers. This is a vision that must be ingrained from the beginning, focusing on humanity and societal cues as opposed to a traditional focus on the bottom line.
Let’s change the bottom line from predatory advertising strategies and revenue to inclusion and transparency.
About the author: Steffan Pedersen is currently a project manager at Meemo, a social finance company working to connect your financial footprint with the world around you.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.