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Why Brands Need To Reconnect to Their Consumers This 2019?

Rethinking Consumer Engagement cartoon
It’s time for brands to make the bold move of rethinking their consumer engagement strategies!

Rethinking Consumer Engagement — Why Brands Will Disconnect in 2019

Five decades have passed since the very first successful transfer of data between two computers. Since then, the role of technology in connecting the world has grown monumentally. Innovations and revolutions have changed lives in profound ways. But as the internet is over a quarter century old, more people are trying to break away from it and other technologies with similar impact. Seven out of 10 consumers have taken steps to cut down time spent online. Forty-five percent of Americans try to unplug from technology at least once a week. Moreover, the awareness of digital addiction is increasing. A re-examination of value creation and consumer engagement is in order.

Now, brands that are too loud might just find themselves at risk of being deleted from people’s feeds, inboxes and lives.

Changing Habits Due to Digital Clutter

Technology appeals to the basic human need for connection. This fact heavily influences consumer engagement. However, it has also caused many people to develop an addiction. Tim O’Reilly, founder, and CEO of O’Reilly Media Inc. cited social media engagement as an example. “If you look at Facebook’s algorithm, Facebook is a mirror. Go click on a lot of news articles that reinforce your beliefs and you’ll see more of them,” he said. “This is a business model that is based on trying to create addictiveness.”

Indeed, numerous companies have been taking advantage of such addiction to push online customer engagement efforts. Tactics such as omnichannel marketing constantly place product messages in front of consumers. Various content and notifications dominate devices. In many cases, consumer engagement leads to brand fatigue. There are even people who opt to stop using their personal emails due to the volume of marketing messages.

The awareness of the negative impacts of technology is causing habits to change. Salesforce Founder and Co-CEO Marc Benioff unplugged from devices during several vacations this year. New York Times’ Internet Culture Reporter Nellie Bowles is limiting her smartphone use by switching to grayscale display. Best-selling Author Baratunde Thurston disconnected from the Internet for 25 days.

Sure enough, many social media users who belong to Generation Z have quit social media entirely. The group is expected to make up 40 percent of consumers by 2020. Moreover, recovery programs for digital addiction abound.  These examples underscore the need to rethink consumer engagement.

Realigning Technology with the Consumer’s Best Interest

According to Fjord Trends, 2019 marks an era when silence is gold.  The report examines emergent trends that can impact business, technology, design, and society in the year ahead. Also, it provides suggestions on how to navigate the trends for positive change. For 2019, it urges brands to “pipe down” when it comes to consumer engagement.

Fjord Trends 2019 describes a growing demand for businesses to try and regulate the degree of which consumers are becoming addicted to their devices. Digital well-being will take center stage in online customer engagement. As businesses try to respond to this demand, there will be a shift from a relentless pursuit of ideas to a focus on trust.

Relevance and value are what will build such trust in consumer engagement. People will further scrutinize brands and products competing for their attention. They will favor those who can offer value amidst the noise. Loud messaging will be out of place. Ultimately, consideration and respect for every individual’s context will make long-term relationships and meaningful consumer engagement possible.

“Digital is facing a big spring cleaning: a time when we decide whether something still has value and relevance to our lives,” says Fjord’s Co-founder and Chief Client Officer Mark Curtis. “Digital is now so widely adopted that its novelty has worn off. In their attempt to declutter, people are being more selective about which products and services they incorporate into their daily lives, choosing to disconnect, unsubscribe or opt-out if the value exchange is not mutual.”

Shifting Dynamics of Consumer Engagement —Disconnect to Reconnect

It will be challenging to break the long-established behavior in consumer engagement. The trends entail a very different approach from what consumers have already become used to in the boom years. Nevertheless, it’s crucial.

Brands and marketers need to disconnect to reconnect. When it comes to online customer engagement, they need to lessen the number of messages in digital channels and increase their brand or product quality instead. They need to disconnect from consumers at certain periods of time to give them space.

A growing number of companies have been making efforts in reducing digital noise and promoting connection to the physical world. Apple and Google added settings to help users limit screen time. Facebook introduced tools to reduce time spent on social media engagement. Microsoft created features that respect users’ time, attention and privacy. Tech company Bandwidth forces employees to unplug by making vacation mandatory. Camp Grounded in California holds detox holidays, and guests must surrender their digital devices on arrival.

Similarly, Selfridges in London launched an initiative to celebrate the power of quiet way through their “No Noise” program back at the beginning of 2013. Shoppers were instructed to leave their ‘ 21st-century distractions’ in lockers. The list goes on. Indeed, businesses are rethinking consumer engagement. It will be interesting to see how digital promotion companies like Quotient Technology Inc. and Catalina Marketing adapt to this change

Rethinking Consumer Engagement cartoon
It’s time for brands to make the bold move of rethinking their consumer engagement strategies!

These Trends Point to a Better Direction

Companies who haven’t taken steps in line with these trends need to ask hard questions. What is the scope of responsibility of businesses with balancing marketing objectives with the need to minimize tech addiction? How can you put human value back at the center of innovations?

The good news is that we’re better informed from all those years of digital progress. These trends now point to a better direction. The conversations about consumer engagement have reached a new level. We’re now aware that technology has grown to dominate us along the way. Now, we can regain control. Perhaps it’s high time to hit the reset button.



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How tech companies are addressing screen addiction

Brands that embrace the urge to unplug will reap the rewards

Consumers want technology that puts their health and values first, report finds

Seeking a Cure for MS – ImStem Biotechnologies and the Promise of Stem Cell Treatments

Multiple sclerosis, often referred to as MS, affects 2.3 million people throughout the world. There is often an association between  this progressive neurologic disorder and significant disability, as well as expense.  The lifetime costs for an individual with MS exceeds $4 million. Treatments are available for the disease, but a cure for MS remains out of reach to date. However, companies like ImStem Biotechnologies are investigating new areas of research to hopefully change that. Their research with stem cell treatments looks quite promising.

stem cell treatment, stem cell in a tube
Is cure for multiple sclerosis through stem cell treatment finally on the horizon?

Why a Cure for MS is So Challenging

Multiple sclerosis is an autoimmune disease.  It affects the brain and spinal cord. Antibodies attack the myelin coating on these nerves, which can result in a variety of problems. Paralysis, numbness, incoordination, double vision, and blindness are just a few of the more severe effects.

Ideally, a cure for MS would target the issue that is causing the autoimmune reaction. But the exact cause of MS remains unknown. Therefore, therapies available today seek to reduce the inflammation caused by MS and promote nerve repair. Until the exact cause is known, developing an actual cure for MS will be difficult.

ImStem Biotechnologies Unique Approach

Though a cure for MS does not exist, ImStem Biotechnologies is taking a different approach in treating the disorder. Stem cell research looks promising for several reasons. First, stem cells can help regulate the immune system by reducing its level of activity. For autoimmune diseases, this is a good thing.

Stem cell treatments also help nerves repair and regenerate tissue damage by the autoimmune process.  Also, because stem cell treatments introduce human cells and not drugs, side effects are not expected. This is why ImStem Biotechnologies is bold on its stem cell treatments in advancing a cure for MS.

How Stem Cell Treatment Works in MS

In essence, stem cell treatments provide cells that can develop into a number of different tissues. ImStem Biotechnologies use mesenchymal stem cells, which means these cells can develop into a variety of different tissues. As a result, stem cell treatments have the potential to help individuals with MS improve.

Additionally, the stem cell treatments developed by ImStem Biotechnologies suppress the immune system and have very low levels of inflammation. In seeking a cure for MS, this is also a desirable feature of the therapy. ImStem Biotechnologies believes this is why their stem cell treatments show effective results in animal research studies.

ImStem Biotechnologies Focus on Human Embryo Stem Cells

Different types of stem cell treatments exist. Some stem cells are derived from the bone marrow (BM). However,  ImStem Biotechnologies develop their stem cell treatments from human embryos (hES). This makes a difference because hES stem cell treatments promote healing in Multiple Sclerosis and reduce inflammation. 

BM stem cells do not seem to have this effect. In addition, hES stem cells can cross into the brain and spinal cord. This allows these stem cells to potentially carry other treatments into the central nervous system where MS inflammation occurs.

Moving Closer to a Cure for Multiple Sclerosis

ImStem Biotechnologies was founded in 2012 as a spinoff of the University of Connecticut Stem Core Lab. The advancements that ImStem Biotechnologies are making toward a cure for MS are in part due to the company’s support.

ImStem Biotechnologies enjoys over $1.1 million in grant funding and private capital funding. This facilitated ImStem Biotechnologies’ success in attaining a patent in 2017 for its stem cell treatments.

At this point in time, ImStem Biotechnologies plans to launch Phase I trials soon. If effective, the company stands to benefit greatly from its proprietary stem cell treatment manufacturing process. Their methods produce 200 times more yield in stem cells with less processing time and 75% less cost. Though this may not be a cure for MS, stem cell treatments offer great potential for better MS care. This is great news for MS sufferers.