Digitalisation - Interview with Thorsten Hermes (Google Germany)

Thorsten Hermes
Thorsten Hermes

Focused on the topic “digitalisation”, which is increasingly shaping the outdoor market and outdoor retail, Thorsten Hermes gives first-hand insights into trends and enduring changes from the “always on” generation.

What digital trends can you forecast from your perspective?

I’m not sure whether it’s a trend or whether we’re simply talking about the buying behaviour of current times, but I find it extremely impressive how helpful the Internet has become for the user in preparing for a buying decision. Over and beyond the increasing use of smartphones, there are more and more devices that are connected to the Internet – including such things as wearables like smartwatches, Google Glass and the Internet of things. This creates more and more new and exciting technological options not only for the consumer, but also for retail and industry.

What impact are these trends and new technologies having on our consumer behaviour?

Consumers are “always on”, meaning connected to the Internet anywhere and everywhere. This has an enormous impact on the information and buying behaviour of our society. The information has clearly become more comprehensive and many more sources and data are being checked out compared to just a couple years ago when it comes to preparing optimally for a purchase or even just choosing which restaurant to take a partner to. In response to this behaviour, we are of course continually developing our Google search. Just consider Google Voice Search, which can show the mobile user the best restaurants near his or her location on demand – a terrific feature.

Even YouTube – now the second largest search engine in the world behind Google – is being used more and more in this context. Think about all the unboxing videos that give consumers an initial impression of a product before they themselves can unpack it. Today the Internet has become an integral part of almost all buying processes.

How should brands prepare for this change in behaviour?

Successful brands think cross-channel. A consistent presence across all channels is of elementary importance here. It is crucial to be present along the entire buying process and to invite consumers to interact with the brand with the help of relevant content. This creates commitment and identification with the brand. Brands that are in a position to provide the customer with unique, technology-supported added value within the context of the buying process will be ahead of the game here.

Furthermore, brands have to be present where consumers are searching for answers and content. It’s worth getting beyond the thinking driven purely by flights and campaigns to be able to serve the various demands and questions of the consumer in the best possible way.

Do you have examples from the outdoor industry?

There are some terrific examples in the outdoor area as to how technology can generate added value for the buyer and outdoor fan. For example, GoPro has managed to occupy an entire category within a very short period of time. Whilst, some time ago, helmet cameras were solely viewed from a technical perspective, GoPro – not least due to “user-generated content” – has managed to give these products and the brand an emotional draw. So it’s not surprising that the YouTube videos uploaded by GoPro buyers and the product presentations are able to produce viewer figures in the double-digit million range. The fact that about 80% of all videos in the GoPro channel were created and uploaded on YouTube by users creates an extremely authentic and attractive brand appearance. I am convinced that in the next few years we will be able to look forward to many innovations in the outdoor market.

Thank you, Thorsten Hermes for your enlightening input.