Moving From Rigid Experiences to a Fluid Multiverse

Identity has never been so uniquely personal as it now is becoming. Consumers are challenging the norms of past generations, and moving away from rigid definitions of identity to a more self-defined, fluid approach.

Comfort in multiplicity
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One of the most common marketing practices is to place each customer in a well-defined segment or persona category to improve the customer experience (CX). Once the customer is slotted, that segmentation is used for every interaction with that individual — and every other person is similarly characterized.

However, the latest research from Cognizant tells us that in the long run, this rigid approach is not going to work. As they experience things over time, individuals change, and a person who behaves a certain way during one experience might act differently during another. Rigid segmentation also raises substantial issues involving inclusiveness, and no organization today can afford to ignore how privilege biases may play into these traditional design heuristics. Increasingly, experiences will have to support a multiverse of different self-perceptions, identities, and behaviors. Experiences must be designed to reflect  more fluid and dynamic identity definitions as these evolve.

This requires a sea change in thinking. As CX platforms have become capable of providing much more data and information about every customer, the tendency of marketers has been to categorize those customers even more rigidly. However, a better use of all that data is to increase the fluidity of the experience, so the brand better aligns with the individual and continuously evolves how the experience is designed. This can drive inclusiveness as we learn more about our consumers. Data must become a tool for both fluidity and understanding the consumer’s persona. Aligning with evolving identity lexicons will be an important means of solving the challenge.

As marketers learn to adapt better to the fact that people have potentially competing needs, depending on the group or groups with which they might identify at any given moment, they realize enabling personal expression or experiences is a new requirement. Everyone wants to “belong,” but brands must develop experiences that support this need while enabling individuality. This means that going forward, experiences will do more to support fluid self-identities within the overall context of the customer base.

Striving for inclusivity

As customer experiences start to change and better support the multiverse, a primary goal must be to include those who historically have been marginalized because the experience design best practices did not align with their identities. A start toward overcoming such bias is to make the design team itself more inclusive. Often, the design team is composed of people with similar preferences or personalities, leading to an experience that can feel inclusive only for similar individuals. With broader, participatory design efforts, it is possible to eliminate some of the biases that makes customer experiences marginalizing for some people. Getting away from structures that alienate or create discomfort for individuals who may fit the marginalized groups must be central to future design strategy.

There already are signals of change popping up. Underserved personal identities are one area of promise. For example, Chicago-based Rebirth Garments offers gender nonconforming wearables and accessories for people on the full spectrum of gender, size, and ability. Its marketing reflects a truly inclusive multiverse.

For more information about environment-driven design and other new experience trends discovered by Cognizant Digital Experience, go to: https://www.cognizant.com/digital-experience/future-of-digital-experience/identity.

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