A Marketer’s Perspective on the Collision Conference

The second annual Collision Conference was held on May 5-6 in Las Vegas and in attendance were the most exciting names in tech including industry thought leaders and 1000 start-ups from 89 countries. To promote the presence of women in tech, Collision sponsored 150 women to attend and our own Grace Hsiang, YapStone Marketing Manager, was selected. We asked her to share a few thoughts from the Collision Conference experience.

As a digital marketer in payments, a Millennial consumer, and a woman in tech, I sometimes feel like these labels are simply trendy buzzwords that get tossed around. At Collision, these trends were put into great context as the insights I heard proved that recent innovations in technology are not just part of a “bubble.” Rather, the leaders and entrepreneurs at Collision are dead set on rapidly transforming the status quo of established institutions, the way companies market their product and the future of global commerce as we know it.

Here are my “Top 4” insights from Collision:

1. The use of data is completely revolutionizing the customer experience

Aunkur Arya, GM of Mobile for Braintree, forecasted that the use of technology would deliver more predictive consumption on behalf of merchants and developers over time. As mobile payments gain further adoption, the amount of consumer insight gained from processing billions of payment transactions will allow companies to create contextually richer buying experiences for customers. Not only will companies be able to curate personalized buying experiences like never before, they will also become more precise in how they target consumers. For example, HotelTonight offers “Rate Drops” to serve deep discounts on last-minute reservations that geo-target mobile users in specific locations.

The use of data represents an excellent opportunity for marketers because we will be able to create mutually beneficial relationships between the merchant who needs to sell inventory efficiently and the customer who seeks a premium experience at a budget friendly price.

2. The payments industry is looking at the purchasing behavior of Millennial consumers to challenge big banks

It’s no secret that the Great Recession was traumatic to Millennials. Our generation entered the job market carrying the best education, yet also the most debt and an obvious need for a job. With this in mind, Affirm CEO Max Levchin was quick to state that current financial products are becoming irrelevant and incompatible with Millennial consumers. Although this demographic will account for over a third of spending by 2020, 60% of Millennials prefer using a debit card (vs. a credit card) and 36% have never even owned a credit card. Not only do Millennials carry this distrust, but also the current financial products that are available cannot live up to the convenience, transparency, and speed that is demanded from us.

This presents a wide opportunity for financial tech companies such as YapStone, Wealthfront, and Lending Tree to bring new products to market that speak to the needs of today’s consumer. It’s incredibly exciting to be part of a group that is redefining the future of banking and financial institutions and I cannot wait to see what companies and products will emerge.

3. On-demand services are blowing up and redefining the relationship of merchant and customer

One of the consistent trends at Collision was the emergence and adoption of on-demand concierge services that deliver right to your doorstep. Going beyond the “share economy” model, companies are utilizing new innovations in point of sale systems and mobile development to reinvent how we purchase and receive non-discretionary goods. These technologies have paved the way for startups like PostMates, Handy, and Lyft to sell products and services that can be ordered within minutes (if not seconds).

I love this trend because it puts users on both sides of the transaction. A user can participate as either a customer or a contractor and either benefit from a seamless experience at competitive pricing or a flexible part-time job. In this system, everyone seems to win and the merchant is able to deliver value beyond utility.

4. Technology has made the role of a Marketer more exciting and more challenging than ever

Social media has empowered consumers to be savvy, opinionated, and vocal about their purchases. As a result, companies have to develop products and messaging that works even harder to get their attention and win their loyalty. While this is not an easy feat, there are a number of tools that enable us to think outside the proverbial box and deliver creative solutions.

It was exciting to see how many big brands are now pivoting their approach to consumers and seeking to deliver authentic experiences that their customers will actually enjoy. Some of my favorites included Mastercard’s long running “Priceless” campaign (which now utilizes social media touchpoints and a mobile app to connect with their consumers through surprise gifts) and L’oreal’s “Makeup Genius” (which allows customers to test products with their phones as a virtual mirror).

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