The global consumer

Consider the number of paid services you use on a daily basis. Then add the physical products you use. Are they all easy to buy? Are you getting the best product or service out there? And not only the best product or service “available in your market”?

Netflix´US content is not the same content as provided in European countries, HBO is far behind Netflix in global online distribution, and what is available for you on iTunes in the US might not be available in Spain. On the other hand, buying furniture online from Asia, shipped halfway around the world has just become the new normal. In the year of 2017 when all we hear is “disruption”, taking into account the worlds migration numbers, digital expats, digital nomads, students abroad and all other people “on the go” – why are industries failing to see the  the global consumer?

It was an ad I saw on facebook, where The New Yorker was advertising a special offer on a subscription deal for me who did not live in the US, that initially sparked the interest in writing this blog post. My first thought when I saw the ad was actually – well done! Their web statistics have shown that there is an interest for their publication outside of the US , they tracked that I read their feature about Anthony Bourdain’s new documentary, and decided to address me directly. And as a consumer – I felt that they saw me, even though I live no where near New York.

“not available in your region” – should be a thing of the past by now.

With this in mind I started thinking about all the services and products that I wanted to buy, but couldnt. (And I am not talking about shipping availability or cost here). There was the documentary from Tribeca Film Festival that on iTunes was “not available in your region” – that phrase should be a thing of the past by now. Then there are the film studios that still roll out movies in Europe 6 months after they are available in the US – no one has patience for that sort of thing anymore. I had a full shopping cart on a retail website that during check out would not let me pay unless I had a local credit card. Sephora in Europe does not have the same offering as Sephora in the US. I could go on all day, the point is; why are you making it so difficult to buy your products and services? Which business does not want to grow their customer base? And the size of their cart? Also, how can I as a consumer feel secure that I receive the best product offering?

Of course there are probably a few different reasons why this is not possible. But these issues need to be addressed, otherwise a lot of companies are all just Kodak waiting to happen. Meanwhile, Amazon and Alibaba seem to be doing better than fine, and will soon rule the world.

Thankfully there is a great example of the next industry disrupting the world and addressing the global consumer: Banking. Yes, the grey suits industry is being invaded by the t-shirt guys – #FinTech.

It seems that banking is the last industry to get disrupted by the tech industry.  And for a good reason, we used to put a lot of trust in them. You used to have the same bank all your life, often the same bank your parents had. Banking is the one thing in our lives that we all find quite boring to deal with, and you don´t give them a second thought until you need a loan or they charge you for something that you don´t understand.

There are many new growing companies in the FinTech industry, but let’s start with an example that made two Estonian guys so frustrated that they built the service Transferwise. Doing international transfers between banks can cost anything from 35€ up to several hundred Euros (depending on the country, the bank, the amount and the urgency of the transfer). You might not think that international transfers are that relevant to you, but it affects a lot more people then you would think. Whether you have a vacation home abroad that means you have to transfer money internationally, you are employed by a company in a different country than where you reside, you are an immigrant wanting to send money to your native country, a student abroad, a digital nomad, digital expat or a regular tourist – you might to some extent be affected by the fees of international transfers and currency exchange rates. Transferwise let you send money from your account or a credit card to any account, any where, for a fraction of the cost of that of a traditional bank. Transferwise now has over 1 million customers, sending more than 800m GBP using the platform every month. (In April 2017, they announced its decision to move its headquarters from London to the continent due to Brexit).

But Transferwise offers only one type of service. Ever heard of the bank N26?

N26 is the mobile bank that lets you set up your account by online verification, has no local branches and you get everything you need through the N26 app on your phone. Having no local branches means that this bank of course is a lot cheaper than your bank, their services are innovative, and made for the global consumer. They now have 300,000 users, representing 206 nationalities, living in 17 different countries. In addition to their innovative banking services, they cooperate with a network of FinTech companies that build their innovations directly into the N26 app. This means that international transfers are handled by Transferwise, insurance from Allianz, cash payment solution by Barzahlen, investment services by Vaamo, and credit card by Mastercard. And if you and your friend both use N26 banking app – you can transfer money between each other via iMessage or Siri.

There are local banks offering around the world offering several different easy mobile pay and transfer solution between people in different markets. Their limitation is of course borders – you can only use “Vipps” (Norway), “Svish” (Sweden), “Bizum” (Spain) and WeChat (China) if you have a local phone number and account. And meanwhile facebook, Google, Samsung, and PayPal are working hard on their wallet solutions for key markets. Facebook have already partnered up with Transferwise on a transfer messenger bot. Which means that Transferwise can very well become a huge threat to traditional banks earnings on international and national transfer fees.I am sure we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg here.

Another innovative product made for the global consumer that is worth mentioning is the smartphone One Plus 3T, which approach to market is “Never Settle”. It lets you operate on dual SIM cards which means that you can have let´s say one Spanish number and one UK number on the same phone and when you have an incoming call you can choose which SIM to answer with, regardless of which number the caller dialed. It is fully charged in 30 minutes, has an internal storage of 128GB, and runs on a pimped up version of Android OS

The global consumer already exist of course, we have been shopping online since the birth of the internet. You as a small or big business are able to reach consumers on the other side of the world. Which of course has quite a substantial contribution to the shipping industry and the global economy in general.  You can even target them specifically with your marketing communication. But taking into account the different governments tax laws on import, trade deals or lack there of, and the lack of innovation from companies and whole industries – we as global consumers are still provided a limited product offering, lot of products and services that are mediocre or simply not distributed in a way that meet our expectations.

Tomorrow I want to rent a movie online directly from Tribeca Film Festival, or from Warner Bros, set up a “Shopify” for global movie rental for all I care. As long as you make the film available worldwide and let me pay for it with a credit card from a foreign bank. We all know what happens if you don’t.

Global Consumer -ben-white-Unsplash





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Freelance Marketing consultant, based in Ibiza. Passion for marketing, brand building, social media and advertising.

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