The Age of Assistance

1 September 2020. Thoughts in Industry by

Recent research from Google shows that 80% of people want to understand the world around them. Our power to decipher and interpret the world around us sit in the palm of our hands – giving rise to the age of assistance.

Access to information and attentive audiences have pushed brands to assist customers in providing valuable information and experiences. The notion of assisting customers requires brands to think outside their product and service offerings and consider what customers’ pain points, needs and wants are. Understanding the changing customer journey allows brands to respond far more effectively in assisting to improve this journey. 

Think like a consumer

Part of understanding shifting customer journeys, demands that brands pay attention to all available signals. Using traditional demographics to decipher customer behaviour has not been sufficient for several years. Towards 2010, dot com business exec Seth Godin communicated the idea of understanding consumers using the concept of tribes as opposed to more traditional segmentation. Recognising your consumers’ world outside the immediate interaction with your service and product will help you understand their lives, and this, in turn, can help you to identify how your brand can improve and add value to their lives. 

In one of our recent articles, we highlighted how understanding your employees and customers’ ecosystems can help you create more touchpoints for authentic interaction. Considering how you can assist within these ecosystems, can help you create valuable experiences that integrate seamlessly into your customers’ lives. 

The age of assistance means that brands will continuously have to interrogate where and how they can make their consumers’ lives easier. Providing the right information, on the right platforms, through the right communication methods, is one way to do this. “Brands need to think more about assisting people than pushing messages on them; brands that are helpful are rewarded in this new age of assistance”, according to Harry Davies, Head of Measurement and Analytics at Google. But in a content-saturated world, how does your messaging stand out?

Allan Thygesen, President of Americas at Google, points to the importance of asking questions like where do my customers go; what do they search for; what connects them, and where do they go before or after they connect with my brand? And subsequent to that – how can my brand fit into that journey and create more ease?

Thygesen suggests that “brands and marketers change the conversation internally around the role of marketing”. Marketing in the age of assistance needs to elevate conversations about reaching customers and enticing brand loyalty, to identifying what the highest value add would be for the customer. 

The need for instant gratification

On-demand communication is one way to assist consumers by meeting them where they are at. Positioning content around mobile-first, real-time and socials caters to delivering instant gratification and assisting consumers with getting what they need when they need it. Thygesen shared that “same-day hotel bookings, trips and restaurant reservations were up hundreds of percent”.

This points to reconsidering how your brand can meet consumers’ on-demand needs not only through content but also through restructuring product delivery and services. 


According to Brian Solis, “digital Darwinism doesn’t discriminate in selecting which companies survive, thrive or fade”. He further states that progressive experiments with emerging technologies such as AI and machine learning can deliver results when integrated with 21st-century customer-centricity and campaigns that are relevant and useful. 

Generation C, known as the connected consumer, is a group of digital consumers that spread across different demographics, and that is both curious and impatient. If your brand does not provide the information and experience they desire, they will simply move on to a brand that does. When serving this group, it is useful to think of creating “micro-moments”, a term coined by Google in 2015. 

Examples of brands that create micro-moments for their consumers

Starbucks Pickup, in the US, caters specifically to mobile customers. The benefit to the customer? Super fast and easy coffee collection. Customers place their coffee orders via a dedicated app, and they have real-time visibility on exactly when their order will be ready for collection. 

New York City’s Neighborhood Goods is a physical store set up for the digital age. The store opened with more than 40 brands ranging from digital startups to established companies and centres around flexible space and leases. The focus is for brands to use the store for micro-moments in product launches, experiential retail and brand awareness. This model could be an innovative way for existing shopping centres to gain back market share after an increased number of consumers got used to e-commerce shopping as a result of restrictions in movement and fear of being amongst crowds. 

Another example of brands providing solutions in the age of assistance by making shopping more convenient is automated retail through the use of vending machines. We at Kaitoma have noticed this kind of assisted retail pop up in more places in recent months, particularly in Johannesburg, and we will continue tracking this trend. 

The age of assistance provides brands with entirely new and existing avenues to reach consumers. Brands can differentiate themselves through providing assisted engagement by viewing the customer-brand connection beyond the immediate benefits of the product or service. Reviewing how, when and where your product or service can make a difference in consumers’ lives, might highlight new areas of associations. In addition, reconsidering how you communicate your product or service in line with what consumers are already looking for, could ignite new creative opportunities. In the age of assistance think on-demand, instant gratification, ease and value. And remember to think less like a marketer, and more like a consumer. 


Davies H. (2017 March). Marketing in the age of assistance. Thinkwithgoogle.

Solis B. (2018 12 February). Digital Darwinism opens the door to an age of assistance. Thenextweb.

Chan J. (2020 30 January). How and why marketers should leverage micro-moments marketing. Mention.

Solis B. (2017 11 October). WTF: What’s the future of marketing in the age of assistance. Forbes.

Insider Trends. (2020 13 January). The Best New Retail Stores in NYC January 2020.

Godin, S. (2008). Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us. Portfolio Tribes. 


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