Is marketing about to create a frictionless world for brands and people?

Frictionless living has become important to many of us throughout the pandemic, from avoiding face-to-face interaction generally to seamless order and delivery services that involve little or no human contact.

Mar 9, 2021

By Neil Davidson

The great differences in how we live our lives today has been shown in how large parts of the economy can still function from our homes, both production and consumption, something that was impossible in the flu pandemic of 1918/19. The businesses that have been the winners in the sectors still able to operate have been those best set up to deliver these frictionless experiences through digital.

Is Amazon leading the way again with Amazon Fresh?

As some light seems to appear at the end of the tunnel it’s also an appropriate time for Amazon to up its game even further with the launch of Amazon Fresh in London, till-free and frictionless physical shopping. Given that Amazon has been the leader in so many things is it now leading the race for brands to announce ‘friction-free’ in the same way that food brands have raced to announce ‘gluten-free’? Is this the next big thing for brands, businesses and marketers, or even what they need to start delivering now, or lose out in the race?

Is friction-free in danger of being brand-free?

If a frictionless experience isn’t memorable and lacks empathy is that what we want our brands to become, and will they really be brands anymore? Aren’t our most emotionally connective life and brand experiences triggered by frictions in these experiences? Isn’t some of the most connective marketing based on the friction of interruption that is then rewarded with a deeper connection that wouldn’t have happened otherwise? This certainly seems to be true for TV advertising and experiential, where meaningful friction hopefully ends in reward.

Marketing needs to balance frictionless with meaningful friction

Frictionless will continue to be an important factor for businesses and brands, but after a year where we have been starved of many of the deeper experiences that we took for granted marketers need to think of the different roles of frictionless and meaningful friction, not just in marketing communications but also in the buying experience. Can the friction itself be rewarding or is it a worthwhile forfeit for a far greater experience? The role for marketers post-pandemic will be both removing unrewarding friction and paying back the experience debt we have all accumulated since March 2020.