The Keys to Improving Patient Engagement in Pharma  

The notion of patient engagement has been taking shape for over 30 years. Here are 10 tips to accelerate and embed patient engagement systematically in your organization.

The notion of patient engagement has been taking shape for over 30 years. Going beyond patient advocacy, patient engagement is the active involvement of patients in processes and decision-making in their care experience, across the entirety of the development lifecycle and beyond.

Patient engagement works to address health disparities and inequity more systematically by including and elevating diverse patient voices across the key touchpoints of drug development, ultimately raising the standard of care all patients receive and the outcomes they experience. It’s about going beyond clinical outcomes and driving a more holistic understanding of patients and the treatment effect across their preferences, social phenotypes and circumstances – socioeconomic or otherwise. Ultimately, the goal is to create medicines, treatments and experiences with (not for) patients. 

And we’ve seen the business and clinical results at key points across the development cycle.  

So Why Haven’t Pharmaceutical Companies Cracked It? 

Pharma is the only industry that has not fully embraced the end user in its product development. The practice of understanding patients and applying that understanding systematically to treatment development is complex and difficult.  

There are several barriers to successfully engaging patients in pharma:

  • Historic Disregard of the Patient – The industry has historically been wired to disregard the perspectives and needs of patients outside of the clinical outcomes related to therapies of interest. Practitioners can often be resistant to centering on patients, with a typically paternalistic relationship with patients, coupled with a lack of time and capacity to actively involve patients in their care.
  • Regulations and Resources – The regulatory requirements, time and investment required to engage with patients mean it often doesn’t happen. Or at best, it happens sporadically.
  • Corporate Culture – Fragmented and siloed corporate structures and cultures result in ad hoc and unsustainable attempts at patient engagement. Not to mention, they are often not built into the drug development lifecycle.
  • Limited Pharma-Patient Interactions – Patients have limited capacity and agency to engage with pharma, leading to difficulties in diverse and representative patient groups.
  • Lack of Faith as a Strategic Priority – Due to the delayed ROI associated with patient engagement, pharma struggles with prioritizing patient engagement as a sustained and systematic business imperative.

The only way to initiate and scale patient engagement sustainably is to take a systematic approach across the entire organization and at key moments throughout the drug development lifecycle.   

External Pressures for Patient Engagement are Mounting 

All of that said, the lack of impetus is changing. Patient engagement is no longer a nice to have, with a range of forces driving an increased focus on patient engagement. Industry leader, Roche, is in the process of training 10,000+ employees in patient engagement. The most important medicines regulators in the world, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) and EMA (European Medicines Agency) are strongly invested in expanding Patient-Focussed Drug Development (PFDD). In 2016, the FDA codified patient engagement as a key pillar of its mission, formally requiring records of Patient Perspectives in drug review under PDUFA VI. It will become increasingly difficult and slow to get new indications approved and paid for without showing patient engagement throughout the development process and treatment regime design. The global COVID-19 pandemic has also seen familiarity, scrutiny and pressure on pharma corporate brands as their reputations increased hugely, presenting a timely and important opportunity to build trust and understanding between pharma and patients.  

The Solution? Systematically Embed Patient Engagement into Your Culture and Operating Model 

Through the learnings shared by different businesses and patient engagement leaders, it has become evident that no existing business function can fully own patient engagement. An overarching function, or center of excellence, must focus on shifting mindsets of each therapeutic area and motivating change while permeating tools, training, new ways of working, processes and systems through all cross-functional aspects of the organization to deliver impact for patients and ensure patient engagement practices are adopted cohesively.  

Leaders must be bought into the need for patient engagement and must be willing to drive home the message within their teams and prioritize it as a focus across the organization. For a patient engagement function to be able to identify and navigate the appropriate channels within the organization, the correct process, governance and stakeholders must be in place. This requires organizational, operating model and cultural adaptations to bring an enterprise-wide and systematic approach to patient engagement. Getting it right brings not only better results but renewed purpose and inspiration to teams across the business. 

10 Tips to Embed Patient Engagement (PE) Systematically in Your Organization  

From our experience globally we have distilled the key areas of focus that will help you build and embed a systematic approach to Patient Engagement across your organization 

Set Up Strategically 

  1. Embed patient engagement holistically, X-FN and enterprise-wide approach
  2. Clearly articulate the value of patient engagement – and link it to the corporate and therapeutic strategies 
  3. Ensure the patient engagement function sits strategically in the organization and is clearly distinguishable from other patient-facing functions, acting as a key enabler for other functions 

Initiate Meaningful Work 

  1. Create a comprehensive patient experience blueprint that drives equitable access to care and an improved experience
  2. Start by piloting patient engagement initiatives and tactics in the “moments that matter” across the lifecycle 
  3. Develop a patient insights function to understand patient experiences and improve outcomes  

Disseminate and Scale Rapidly 

  1. Build patient engagement infrastructure quickly by codifying best practices into repeatable processes
  2. Fill gaps in understanding with bespoke learning and development programs 
  3. Maintain momentum by creating visible platforms to articulate the importance of patient engagement 
  4. Focus on the value of patient engagement to society – the “S” in ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance)   

Making Patient Engagement Happen

To become systematic in your organization, patient engagement needs to be driven by enterprise-wide momentum while being bolstered simultaneously with enterprise-wide infrastructure. Why? Proving the ROI of patient engagement is still challenging for most organizations. As a result, the patient engagement function needs to develop a strong and robust proof of concept across drug development and commercial processes. This means partnering and collaborating across the business to make sure everyone is clear on what ‘including the patient’ looks like in their role. This will reconnect employees with the organizational purpose, which in turn attracts top talent, galvanizing them to build enterprise momentum around the value of patient engagement.  

At the same time, for this to be sustainable, we need to ensure a systematic approach so pharma can realize the full ROI of patient engagement – building the right infrastructure to make this happen. You need momentum to be able to build the infrastructure. These two things can’t be done sequentially, they need to be done in tandem.  


The good news is that it’s easy to get started. Patient engagement is inherently motivating to your people and every pharma organization has teams with an immediate need for support.   

To figure out how to accelerate the momentum of your patient engagement strategy and embed it across your organization, Prophet conducts a 2-hour workshop that helps clients define and articulate their challenges and where they need to focus efforts based on our top 10 insights outlined above. Get in touch with our Organization & Culture experts at Prophet to learn more.  


Winning Web 3.0: Creating Immersive Metaverse Experiences

Understanding the web 3.0 metaverse and its key characteristics is essential to creating immersive and engaging metaverse experiences for your customers.

Rewind 10 years: Smartphones have already hit the market, but their potential is just beginning to be recognized. Now, whenever we need to purchase something on the go, run an errand at the bank, or share an update with our friends and family, we intuitively pick up our phone and complete the task in a matter of minutes or even seconds.  

In the same vein, we will see the Metaverse gradually blend into our lives, providing added convenience, multi-layered connectivity and unprecedented experiences in ways we have yet to discover. Brands need to pave the way for this future. In Web 2.0, brands serve as identities, externalizing purpose, values and personality, while engaging with customers and consumers. In Web 3.0, brands have evolved into entities. The Metaverse enables brands to come alive and interact with consumers in novel, innovative ways.  

To prepare for this uniquely immersive future, brands must start thinking of how to create unique experiences in the infancy of the Metaverse. What test and learn experiments can be launched in the near-term future? First, we must understand what differentiates the Web 3.0 Metaverse from the Web 2.0 we know. 

5 Characteristics of the Web 3.0-Enabled Metaverse

1. User-Owned  

Enabled by blockchain technology, the true Metaverse will be a decentralized platform, where users are given ownership over their data, assets and experiences. Unlike in Web 2.0, where consumer information is constantly being tracked, stored and sold, users will be able to decide how they want to collect and even monetize their own data in the Metaverse.  

In the Sandbox’s Metaverse, for example, players who hold SAND tokens make up the platform’s governance through a DAO (decentralized autonomous organization) where decisions are made by voting. 

2. Anonymous 

 The Metaverse allows users to have the freedom to shape their identities without being limited by their age, race, gender, appearance, citizenship and more – constraints that are unavoidable in the physical world. Instead, users rely on avatars – and can shape them to be any persona they want, choosing physical traits and a pseudonym they desire.  

3. Infinite 

 In the Metaverse, there can be an unlimited number of users as well as interoperable virtual worlds. And these users can move freely, unrestricted by constraints of the physical world such as distance, time and borders.  

For instance, rapper Travis Scott performed a larger-than-life concert in the video game Fortnite. The surreal spectacle was watched by over 12 million players, earning the artist $20 million according to reports. 

4. Boundlessly Immersive 

 With the continued advancement of 3D, VR and AR technologies, the Metaverse will continue to offer more interactivity and a more immersive digital presence for users. It will increasingly become a parallel reality of people’s everyday lives, with virtual and physical experiences reinforcing one another.  

Farzi Café, in India, has partnered with OneRare, a Metaverse built for the food and beverage industry. Users can play games at the Metaverse version of Farzi Café, minting tokens that can be exchanged for actual food items at the restaurant’s physical location. 

5. Persistent 

 The Metaverse is a permanent virtual space (which can be continuously built upon and is constantly evolving) that is independent of whether an individual user is online or offline. The persistence of the Metaverse allows users to share experiences synchronously or asynchronously. 

How Brands Are Building Metaverse Experiences Today and Tomorrow 

When foraying into the Metaverse, brands must take into account these characteristics that are unique to Web 3.0 and build accordingly. Brands that are pushing into the Metaverse understand that reimagining their brand experience and their business model will be key to finding early success. 

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The 2020 pandemic posed a major challenge for countries that rely heavily on tourism revenue. To create a virtual alternative, Singapore’s Sentosa Island partnered with Nintendo Switch’s popular game, Animal Crossing, to offer a unique experience – to explore the island of Sentosa in the Metaverse. Visitors from all parts of the world were also able to purchase unique merchandise and take part in social events and experiences, creating a new revenue source for the island in the absence of traditional tourism spend.  

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Fashion house Ralph Lauren announced that its Q3 2022 revenue increased by 27% to $1.8 billion as it tapped into an all-new market in the Metaverse and a new Gen Z customer base. The brand partnered with gaming platform Roblox to launch the Ralph Lauren Winter Escape experience, which includes winter-themed activities, a Ralph’s Coffee Truck and exclusive digital apparel. On South –Korea-based Zepeto, Ralph Lauren similarly offers clothing to users to dress their avatars, selling more than one hundred thousand units in the first few weeks post-launch. It’s become clear to Ralph Lauren that virtual product sales will grow to become a significant revenue stream for the brand. 

3 Considerations for Business Innovation in the Metaverse 

However, creating one-off brand campaigns on the Metaverse is not enough. Brands must think deeply about their customer journeys of the future. In our conversations with tech leaders and brand owners alike, this recognition is shared by many: “Consumer behavior and the battlefield of brand marketing have changed. Digital natives are the early adopters in the Metaverse. Brands must build their brand, create new experiences and reimagine their products in the virtual world,” said Grace Huang, head of B2B marketing at Yahoo Taiwan. 

In the Metaverse, users can explore virtual worlds that exist in parallel with their lives in the physical world. As technology advances, the lines between these worlds will become increasingly blurred and the transition between them nearly seamless. Brands must consider how the above characteristics will shape the future of brand experiences. We anticipate three major shifts: 

1. Persona 

 The current standards by which our social value system is defined may change. “Metazens” may have professions that don’t yet exist today, possess far more virtual assets than physical ones and restructure the entire social hierarchy. As a start, brands can rethink how they design their products. For instance, apparel in the Metaverse can span a much broader range of sizes, shapes, colors and designs than in the physical world, but items that can be recreated offline as well might have additional appeal.  

2: Behavior 

 A significant amount of time will be spent online, from work to hobbies and from shopping to personal banking. Most activities can and will be completed in the Metaverse in the not-so-faraway future. Brands can consider which interactions with their consumers can be replicated in the Metaverse. Which will disappear entirely? What will emerge that does not yet exist in the physical world? 

3. Business 

 Gaming and entertainment are the initial sectors to have entered the Metaverse, but eventually, every industry will be reimagined and reinvented. Similar to e-commerce’s evolution over the past few decades, the Metaverse has the potential to become a major contributor to the world’s economy. What are near-in and far-out revenue streams that brands may be able to create? 

With this future full of untapped opportunities, what can brands get started on today? 

  • Start to get immersed in the Metaverse, as a brand builder but also as a user. Designate Metaverse experts within your team and organization. 
  • Ideate on how your industry and intersecting industries will be reshaped by the Metaverse. Look to both in and out of category examples to find opportunities for innovation. 
  • Choose one or two ideas to build out, implement and test, leveraging an agile approach to gather immediate feedback from partners and customers. 


Designing Metaverse experiences is the next frontier of creating relevant and engaging brand experiences for your customers. Companies across industries are testing out bold ways to launch into the Metaverse, through partnerships, business model innovation and test and learn approaches. 

Prophet has both the digital expertise and the experience innovation to be your partner in the Metaverse. Connect with us today to discuss a Metaverse experience strategy for your brand. 


Better Health Experiences

46 min


Prophet’s Lindsey Mosby joins the Designdrives, a podcast about the impact and value of design to discuss how to design better healthcare experiences. Whether those experiences are digital or physical, she shares the importance of looking across the entire customer journey and highlights opportunities for creating innovations through the power of cross-industry learning.

In the episode you’ll hear about: 

  • The state of healthcare today 
  • What opportunities do designers have to influence the healthcare industry 
  • The shift from “healthcare as an event” to “health as a journey and mindset” 
  • How healthcare organizations can move from “solving” to “prevention”  
  • What the healthcare industry can learn from financial services organizations. 

Listen to the full podcast today. 


From URL to IRL: Four Pillars of Experiential Design for the Future of Offline Retail 

As consumers begin returning to in-person shopping, it’s time for retailers to revisit the role of physical retail stores.  

The last few years saw a boom in e-commerce, with innovations such as shoppable live streams, virtual try-ons and AI-powered recommendations enhancing the online retail experience. Today, as consumers re-enter physical stores, retailers can seize the opportunity to reimagine what in-person shopping looks like in the future of retail.  

Consumers’ shopping behaviors have changed. Physical stores are no longer simply places of transaction. Instead, they can serve as storytelling centers that bring brands to life. Offline retail can help customers learn about products, provide an experience value and create stronger relationships. Customers like to view stores as places to experience something unique, memorable and human. 

Also, brands must be clear on their story and audience when designing spaces and their content to create an in-store experience. Once the retail strategy is clear, it’s all about execution. To create a distinct offline experience, brands must think critically about what experiences are only possible in person and how technology can be leveraged to deliver them.  

Below are four areas for brands to consider when developing an experiential design for the future of offline retail: 

1. Beyond POS: Cultivating Community at the Storefront 

It’s time to think beyond transactions. Having a physical footprint in today’s world can be so much more for a brand than simply a point-of-sale. Stores can become multi-purpose spaces dedicated to activities and brand activations that create a sense of community. Customers can come to a store to discover and learn about a brand and touch and feel its products.  

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IKEA has long been known for its one-of-a-kind in-store experience, with its winding paths, tiny model homes and world-famous meatballs. Its new store in Vienna takes it one step further. Rather than the giant blue warehouse that customers are used to, this 7-story structure of stacked glass pods and covered in greenery was designed to resemble the brand’s minimalist shelving units. Inside, the building offers a public rooftop terrace in addition to a hostel and café. Shoppers can shop, scan and pay directly from the IKEA mobile app and have larger items delivered to their homes via emission-free electric vehicles. IKEA plans for this new store to be more than a shopping center; instead, it’s meant to serve as an urban hub for people to gather in the heart of the city center.  

2. In-Store Analytics: Connecting the Data Dots 

Retail stores are also untapped data mines for brands. By leveraging technology that can track customer behavior in stores, brands can improve the offline journey for their consumers and even create personalized shopping experiences. This behind-the-scenes investment can give brands valuable data about how their customers shop as well as help better predict future trends. 

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Emart, Korea’s largest retailer, partnered with Seoul Robotics to install patented sensor technology in one of its busiest hypermarkets in the country. In doing so, Emart is able to capture data on customers’ shopping behaviors, such as their typical path around the store and where they spend the most time. Seoul Robotics’ technology also addresses concerns around consumer privacy. By using sensor technology that anonymizes customers rather than cameras that collect their images, no biometric data or personally identifiable information is recorded. This anonymized data is still hugely useful to Emart, though. Through a comprehensive customer data strategy, the information can be used to better manage inventory and product assortment as well as offer customers a highly personalized shopping experience, such as specific coupons based on aisles browsed.   

3. Omnichannel 2.0: Bringing Seamlessness Offline 

The ubiquity of e-commerce has elevated customers’ all-around expectations of a brand. Consumers have the same demands for ease and convenience when shopping in-store as they do online. Brands should view brick-and-mortar stores as opportunities to weave in technology, create more seamless touchpoints between them and their consumers and offer a true omnichannel experience. 

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Amazon recently opened its first Amazon Style store, expanding on its offline retail presence portfolio. Amazon Style is the company’s latest foray into fashion and seeks to make in-store shopping as easy and seamless as the online experience. Customers can use the Amazon Shopping app to scan an item’s QR code in-store, which will show them product sizing, colors, ratings and deals. They can then choose to send the item to a fitting room and use touchscreens to request different sizes or colors while also browsing AI-powered recommendations for similar items. Checkout is also a breeze via Amazon One palm scanners: with a wave of the hand, shoppers can purchase their items and be on their way.  

But technology alone won’t be enough. Earlier this year, Amazon closed all its Amazon Books and Amazon 4-star retail locations. To fully convince shoppers, Amazon must find a way to create customer-centric experiences that combine the convenience and accessibility of online shopping with the in-store magic that only an IRL experience can deliver.  

4. Retail’s Ultimate Edge: Engaging All the Senses 

Ultimately, offline retail can win by creating experiences that are simply irreplicable online. Embracing stores as multi-sensorial touchpoints can allow brands to create innovative, memorable and highly engaging customer experiences. Brands that can do this successfully will have no trouble compelling shoppers to move off-screen and in-store. 

Scent, one of our strongest senses, has a direct linkage to the part of the brain that controls emotions and memories. When used strategically, scent technology can create a memorable and vivid in-store experience and create desired shopping behaviors. Bloomingdale’s, for example, uses different scents for different sections throughout the store, such as coconut in swimwear and baby powder in infant clothing. Kyobo Book Centre, Korea’s largest bookstore chain, uses a signature scent inspired by trees and wind, meant to relax customers while creating a unified experience across its stores. 

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Sound plays to another one of our senses and can have a surprising impact on customer behavior, such as increasing brand recall and dwell time by creating a purposeful auditory experience. Genesis, Hyundai’s luxury sub-brand, uses a unique audio identity throughout its entire brand experience, from inside its vehicles to within its showrooms. This auditory expression of its motto, “Quietly Iconic,” is gentle yet distinct, a reflection of the brand’s positioning of modern luxury. 

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Hyundai recently opened Genesis House in New York, which serves as a brand experience center rather than a traditional showroom, incorporating this meticulously designed sound experience throughout its restaurant, library and event spaces. 


While the pandemic posed its fair share of challenges to retailers everywhere, those that have powered through have the opportunity to rethink and redefine their retail experience strategy. Customers are hungry for in-person interactions, and memorable, seamless, multi-sensorial experiences that connect them to the brand – and each other.  

Connect with Prophet today to see how we can help reimagine the future of retail for your brand. 


Transform Your Financial Services Retail Experiences with These 9 Levers

9 key levers across 3 development stages, each enabling financial institutions to transform their retail experience towards the future.

In many Asian markets, financial services companies used to grow alongside the macro economy and compete heavily on products. But things are changing. Product innovation within established incumbents is becoming more difficult under a slowing economy and tighter regulations. Fintech companies are disrupting legacy brands – with offers across saving, credit, insurance and more. The new generation of consumers is increasingly looking for more than short-term returns. These macro shifts indicate that in the future of financial services, reimagining the customer experience and offering benefits beyond transactions will be critical in driving sustainable, ownable growth.  

Study1 shows that nearly 70% of Asian financial services companies understand the importance of “customer-centricity,” and are investing heavily to improve digitally enabled customer experiences (CX). Yet surprisingly, only 20% of customers consider FS companies providers of truly “customer-centric” experiences2. This gap is not a favorable truth but indicates a great opportunity for a company to take action and lead the future. We have identified nine key levers across three development stages that will enable financial institutions to transform their retail experiences for the future.

Fix the Basics: Become a Financial Services Company that Meets Customer Needs 

1. From “Experience” to “Branded Experience” 

Speed and convenience have become critical for customers in the modern digital world. But focusing efforts solely on “ease” also tends to create very similar sets of experiences and/or functions. So how can a company cut through the clutter?   

The answer is simple: brand. A solid brand strategy clearly defines what promise a company makes to its customers and how it uniquely delivers on the promise. Next, this will be translated into a brand identity system that closely aligns with the strategy and guides the development of truly ownable experiences.  

For many financial services companies, brand has not been considered and managed as a strategic asset. Therefore, before aspiring to create any signature experiences, companies need to build a solid foundation first by carefully looking into their brand strategy and identity to define their own experience principles. 

2. From “Product Distribution” to “Omni-Channel Experience” 

Internet companies and FinTech pioneers have disrupted and transformed the retail side of financial services (e.g. Ant Finance and Ascend Money). Many companies now rely heavily on these platforms to broaden their reach to retail customers. But platforms can be restricting, and the company could face constraints in building distinct experiences and owning customer relationships.  

As a solution, some leading companies have started to invest in their own digital ecosystem. For example, Fidelity created SmartRetire, a one-stop retirement solution platform. By building their own digital experience, companies can not only design and own the customer experience, but also collect data to enable targeted, more relevant engagements, that in turn can improve the customer journey in the long term.   

If creating owned ecosystem is not feasible in the short term, companies should at least build a holistic plan across touchpoints and identify opportunities to maximize owned experience and relationships. 

3. From “Experience as External Resources” to ‘Experience as Internal Center of Excellence” 

Many financial service providers leverage third-party vendors to deliver service and experience at lower costs. However, service quality could be at risk under this outsourcing model and differentiation could be harder to sustain if the vendor relationship is not exclusive.  

Companies should prioritize experiences that are most desirable to customers, viable to businesses and feasible to execute, building an internal “center” that breaks the silos, connect the dots and assures quality. A strong center of excellence enables great experience from within, bringing higher efficiency and sustainable competitive advantage in the long term.  

Excite with Experiences: Become a Financial Services Company that is Loved by Customers 

4. From ”Fill the Pits” to ”Elevate the Peaks” 

There could be a huge perception gap on “excellent customer experience.” Research3 shows that 80% of financial services companies believe they deliver excellent customer experiences, while only 8% of customers agree. One of the reasons behind this is that most companies focus only on fixing the pits upon functional pain points, but not on creating any peaks that delight and excite customers in memorable moments. 

Customer lifetime could be quite long in financial services. To become a company that customers choose, trust and love, companies must build a holistic view of the customer lifetime journey, by identifying and prioritizing moments that matter and creating signature experiences that customers truly desire.  

5. From ”Transactional Moment” to “Real Life Relationship”  

Many financial services companies are facing infrequent interactions and transactional relationships with customers. Research4 shows that 60% of Asian customers have had zero engagement with their financial service provider in the past 18 months.  

To go beyond the transactional moments, companies should look to expand their role and presence in other areas of customers’ everyday lives through partnerships and co-branded experiences. For example, Neo Bank MOX in Hong Kong partners with merchants favored by its customers and provides exclusive cash back. Another example is insurance company Beam, which partnered with a smart toothbrush brand and launched an oral health solution, offering premium incentives based on customers’ usage and behavioral data. 

Companies should take a broader view of the customer journey, identify opportunities to meet people where they are in life and enable their lifestyle beyond financial needs. With expanded partnership and engagement, companies could also build an enriched understanding of customers on top of transactional data and enable future products and service innovations. 

6. From “Data Enabled Personalization” to “Human Enabled Personalization” 

Research5 shows that 80% of financial service customers desire more personalized experiences. In Asia, customers are 1.5 times more willing than customers in Europe to share personal data in exchange for personalized experiences. Yet it takes time to build data and analytics capabilities that enable meaningful personalization at digital touchpoints. Customers in Asia also still desire a certain level of in-person engagement – even in younger customers, research6 shows more than half believe financial services are not human enough.  

So, while building data capabilities, companies should invest in empowering their front employees (e.g. RMs, agents) to deliver better, more relevant experiences with smarter tools and insights (e.g., need analysis, claim tracking). These tools should be designed not only to enable higher quality engagement but also to capture customer insights/data into the centralized database – to maintain customer understanding and relationships at risk of potential people turnover.  

Lead the Future: Go Beyond the Frame of Reference as a Traditional Player 

7. From “Proactiveness” to “Intelligence”  

Customers are increasingly sophisticated and their expectations will rapidly evolve. Being “proactive” will become a table-stake part of the experience and companies could aim to lead by creating “intelligent” experiences that are three steps ahead with AI technology. In 2021, HSBC HK saw 10 times higher engagement between relationship managers and customers when it leveraged AI to offer 22 thousand different sets of wealth management solution advice to individual retail customers7

Deep learning and hyper-personalization are among the top strategic priorities for CX leaders in 20228. Leading financial service companies should not only identify close-in use cases, such as product innovations or credit risk assessment but also stretch-out use cases that help the company go further into customers’ lives. 

8. From ”Valued Customers” to “Empowered Customers” 

Being “customer-centric” has been the center of gravity when creating experiences, but it still treats customers as “buyers,” in the position of receiving. As we move into the future, this relationship will be disrupted, and we will see customers as active stakeholders in deciding what type of experiences are created for them.  

Creating better experiences requires data, but customers are increasingly conscious of their privacy and the power of data ownership. Research9 shows that although Asian customers are more willing to share data in exchange for better service, 90% of them are concerned about data privacy and 84% of them desire more control over how their information is used.  

Leading companies should see this more as an opportunity than a challenge. Financial service brands should look at customers as empowered individuals, transform data collection into a “value exchange”, enhance data transparency with a sense of “co-ownership” and develop solutions and experiences through customer “co-creation.” 

9. From ”Boundaries” to ”Boundless” 

In the future world of Web 3.0, traditional boundaries will be blurred – online versus offline, virtual versus physical, consumers versus owners, etc. This boundless space will change how financial service companies organize and deliver value to customers throughout the lifecycle.  

The entire model of “financial services” might change in the context of this – the role of a company could transform from a “service provider” or a “transaction middleman”, to an ecosystem or a community that enables peer-to-peer connections and better decisions among employees, partners, and customers.   

The fast disruptions of fintech will never stop. Financial service companies should be open and embrace the changes to experiment with new ways of delivering value in the future, starting from small use cases.  

Data source:  

  1. Harvard business review, Taking the Financial Services Customer Experience to the Next Level
  2. Salesforce, Trends in the financial service industry
  3. Bain, How to achieve true customer-led growth and close the delivery gap
  4. Genesys, The era of 4.0 experience in Asia financial service industry
  5. Mckinsey, Future of Asia financial services
  6. Capgemini, The customer engagement imperative for financial services
  7. South China news portal, HSBC leverages smart analytics to develop new tools that enhance the personalized customer experience
  8. Genesys, the state of customer experience in financial services
  9. Warc, APAC consumers increasingly concerned about data privacy


With advancement in customers, technology and society, experience will become a critical driver of sustainable and transformational growth in the future. Financial services companies should take actions early and carefully assess which stage they are currently at, what levers they could invest in building towards the next stage and start with smaller test and learn today to lead the future.  


Teladoc Health: Building Purpose-Led Consumer and Employee Experiences

Every year, Prophet surveys thousands of consumers and asks, “Which brands play an important role in your life at why?” And every year we crunch the numbers, synthesize their feedback and produce a ranking and insight-rich report for business leaders to leverage as they transform and grow their businesses through innovative customer and employee experiences.

This year’s survey focused on questions about the “head” and “heart” of consumers. While companies that won over the “heads” of consumers brought pragmatism and convenience, “heart” winners found ways to connect with them on an emotional level. The top brands – aka relentlessly relevant all-stars – did both.

In the 2022 Prophet Brand Relevance Index® (BRI) leading healthcare entities—pharma, providers, suppliers—gained traction and awareness for bringing innovative solutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Pharma giants like Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson grew in name recognition and brand value as they stepped up to the world stage with life-saving vaccines. Non-traditional care platforms also gained traction as consumers opted for telemedicine experiences.

But which healthcare organization was the most relevant to the lives of 13,500 U.S. consumers? Teladoc Health, the multinational telemedicine and virtual care healthcare company, ranked as the #1 healthcare organization and #21 overall.

The pandemic forced the adoption of virtual care and Teladoc Health’s newly transformed experience was there to meet the moment – providing whole-person digital-first solutions to patients. And with gaining momentum, more and more consumers have begun to embrace digital native health platforms. These platforms are rapidly scaling to become not only the digital care continuum for patients but the care continuum. Traditional sectors of healthcare are drawing inspiration from modern digital healthcare players like Teladoc Health who are taking center stage (and top spots in rankings).

Stephany Verstraete, chief marketing and engagement officer at Teladoc Health, joined Prophet’s brand leadership team in the Prophet BRI webinar to share her take on the organization’s rise in consumer relevancy.

What was the focus of Teladoc Health’s brand in 2021 and is that changing as we step further into 2022?

The pandemic created this unique moment where Teladoc became relentlessly relevant – hitting both on the needs of the ‘head’ and the ‘heart.’

We’ve reached an inflection in the adoption curve of virtual care. Which is something that is pretty rare in the world of healthcare. And I think that really stemmed from being there in the moment of people’s needs. In 2020, suddenly something they had taken for granted – access to a doctor – was compromised. And fundamentally, it transformed the relationship they had with our brand, from being largely “head” dominated, focused on convenience and value, to increasingly meeting those needs of the “heart” side as we became a place that they could safely turn to, speak to, without leaving their home.

How do you ensure brand relevance is at the core of building the brand and customer experiences?

We have been digesting our recognition on the list for the first time and are using the brand relevance construct to put a framework around what we are focused on this year.

People naturally gravitate to Teladoc for the “head” needs – like simplification and transparency – and how it can provide individuals in system-centric environments with experiences that are more “person-centric.” As we think about moving forward, we want to focus on how to make those deeper focuses on the “heart” as we deliver innovative experiences. We want to change the way people think about the Teladoc Health experience – from just sick care to healthcare. This brand thinking is transformative for how we go to market, from a marketing perspective, all the way through how we infuse it in our experiences.

Outside of marketing, what do you do to drive relevance in other aspects of the business? How do you inspire the rest of your organization around a brand?

Getting your employees to be power users makes them your greatest brand evangelists. They are the first line of feedback that we incorporate into our experience.

Fundamentally, the Teladoc Health team is inspired by our mission of enabling all people everywhere to live their healthiest lives. Our 5,000 global employees are really the power users of our services. And I would tell you, as a marketer, who has not spent a career in healthcare, this is unique.

We are very intentional about keeping consumers front and center in all of our strategic conversations. For a lot of our DTC marketers, this would seem like an obvious statement but as you get into a healthcare context, it’s really important. For example, we start every strategic meeting with a story from one of our members. It really has a powerful impact on how to keep us grounded in our company’s true north. That is the experience we are delivering and the people we are helping. We are defining a category and something for consumers that is new. When I talk about the brand, it is critical because our brand relevance is still being formed for a lot of consumers.

It is rare to see a study of this kind that can parse out innovative and traditional brands in a way that is relevant and meaningful for all of them. That’s something that we’ve really appreciated.


The Prophet BRI serves as a roadmap for building relevance with consumers, the type of relevance that leads to business growth. Contact our team to learn how to apply the insights from the 2022 Index to your organization.

Brand Equity – Brand Value_1_A


Webinar Recap: Getting to Customer-Centricity in Financial Services

61 min

Prophet recently hosted a webinar on customer-centricity in financial services – what it means today, what firms across the industry are doing to achieve it and how they measure success. We were joined by several senior leaders who graciously shared their insights and experiences:

  • Beth Wood, Chief Marketing Officer, Principal Financial Group
  • Andrea Schultz, Head of Workplace Retirement Marketing, Equitable
  • Kai Sakstrup, Chief Strategy Officer, US Bank

The questions and inputs from attendees made for a lively session, and we wanted to share some follow-on thoughts based on the big ideas that emerged during the discussion.

The State of Customer-Centricity in Financial Services

For years, customer-centricity has been a hot topic for banks, insurers, investment firms, credit agencies and other industry players. Tech-driven disruption, increased competition and rising consumer expectations have kept it near the top of the strategic agenda for marketing, sales and service executives, but indeed all types of business leaders and throughout the C-suite.

As we highlight in a recent report, the business case for customer-centricity – which is based on revenue growth, increased share of wallet, stronger loyalty and higher Net Promoter Scores (NPS) – remains as clear and compelling as ever. But many organizations still face longstanding challenges to achieve true customer-centricity. The most common barriers include:

  • Complex organizational structures
  • Post-M&A integration difficulties
  • Heterogeneous customers with diverse needs
  • Rigid legacy systems and fragmented data
  • Regulatory constraints

Collectively, these challenges lead many customers to feel as if they’re dealing with different companies when they engage with more than one business unit or product from the same organization. As Kai put it, “customers should not see our org chart.” But legacy operational models with siloed product lines and busines units make it challenging to offer seamlessly integrated customer experiences. Andrea commented that she was “jealous of FInTechs” because they don’t have to contend with all the outdated tech and can execute around a clear customer-centric vision.

Customer-Centricity in the Big Picture

Beth spoke on the need to “empathize with customers and to identify what each touchpoint really means to them.” This could emphasize tactical actions, such as data cleansing and harmonization to ensure all business units have access to complete and timely customer data.

There are unique elements of the customer experience – which Beth called the “visible edge of the brand” – that should be owned by business units. But it’s critical for marketing leaders to “build bridges and open doors and windows” between all parts of the organization so that experience is unified and as seamless as possible for individual consumers. After all, marketing leaders are often the most passionate advocates for satisfying customers.

Collaboration between business units is how customer experience and human-centered design can be truly embedded within and throughout the business, rather than being bolted on. Beth added that “customers are the avenue to scale transformative change.” Advanced technology can help operationalize such change, as well as promoting consistency in the customer experience, though it takes more than just the latest to be truly customer-centric. Indeed, chasing the newest tech can even distract some organizations from delivering what customers want. To become customer-centric, organizations need to align strategically on holistic transformation.

How to Drive Customer-Centric Transformation: Actions and Advice from Senior Financial Services Leaders

Seek Ongoing Feedback to Enhance Customer Knowledge
Success starts with deep knowledge and understanding of consumer needs and wants. While most companies would say they know their customers, the reality is that it’s much harder than it looks. And simply having lots of data doesn’t equate to customer knowledge.

Detailed journey mapping and segmentation exercises can help convert huge volumes of raw data into actionable insight. These efforts must also be supported by active and ongoing feedback mechanisms to track the effectiveness of every touchpoint.

Principal conducted a global study to learn what was going on in the hearts and minds of all of its consumers, across age and socioeconomic bands. “Do your homework on who you are, what you want to be, and then talk to your customers about what’s important to them,” added Beth.

Prioritize Diversity

The need for insight has only increased with the spotlight on diversity, as one participant question highlighted. Some consumers perceive that the financial services sector has historically focused on wealthy white males, a perception that true customer-centricity can powerfully counteract.

According to Kai, deep research on all customer segments helps prevent marketers from “assuming that we are the person that we’re serving, which can lead to bad outcomes.”

Champion the Promise Amongst the C-Suite
There was consensus among the panelists that buy-in and leadership from the top of the organization (including from product and business unit executives) are critical to realizing the promise of customer-centricity. Shifting the mentality of the organization involves getting more people thinking about the business from the perspective of the customer and talking about customer needs.

Marketers are often responsible to ensure that customers are represented in such discussions. Kai spoke of taking inspiration from senior-level advocacy and engaging “the people within the organization that actually do the work day to day.” Making customer-centric change sustainable requires incenting and rewarding the right behaviors. It also requires ensuring that the business case for change is clearly explained; you don’t want to imply that people have been doing things wrong.

Find the Right Talent

Talent is another key variable in the equation for success. All of our panelists are looking for more data science and analytics talent, as well as targeted expertise in engagement strategy, social media and other areas.

There is increasing interest in bringing in talent from other industries, with the goal of challenging conventional wisdom and energizing marketing teams. Fresh thinking is more valuable than knowing about financial services regulation, for instance. After all, new hires from consumer packaged goods and retail can always learn the industry. Our panelists agreed that such talent is critical to generating strong returns on their large-scale investments in technology and data.

Track and Celebrate Incremental Progress

NPS and customer sentiment are among the top metrics for tracking customer-centricity. But it’s also important to track the small nuances of consumer behavior that can serve as leading indicators. Andrea believes the key is to know how customers feel about individual interactions and their willingness to go through them again. “Those are universal metrics that drive change, because everyone can understand them,” she said. Plus they provide more detail about what’s behind NPS.

Though firms should adopt an agile approach to upgrading elements of the customer experience, customer-centricity is more like a marathon than a sprint. “You want to say ‘within two quarters, we’re going to transform this business,’ but I think that’s the wrong approach,” said Kai. “You have to realize there’ll be milestones along the way and identify how to incrementally keep moving forward.”

Andrea agreed. “When it comes to customer-centricity, you have to play the long game, because the wins you’re going to see won’t show up on the balance sheet in a year.” That’s why leading marketers orient their customer-centric change efforts – including strategies, budgets, resources and their teams – around the target customer behaviors and business outcomes that matter most.

Final Thoughts

Our recent webinar, along with our ongoing client experience, shows the intense interest senior marketing leaders have in instilling customer-centricity in their organizations. Their passion will serve them well in advocating for richer and more personalized experiences and creating momentum for the long-term journey.

Watch the full replay here or get in touch with our financial services team at Prophet.

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The Innovative Brands Leading the Way in Customer Experience

The most relevant brands offer exceptional experiences, wrapping them seamlessly around their core offering.

Prophet’s 2022 Brand Relevance Index® (BRI) ranks hundreds of U.S. brands on the characteristics that consumers care about the most. In the seventh edition of our ground-breaking, annual research, we measured brands’ relevancy based on how human-centered they were, evaluating how strongly they appealed to consumers’ heads and hearts.

In the brave, new world of business that looks more digital, autonomous and quick-paced than ever, brands across all industries are racing to show up for consumers in a truly human-centric way. With the pandemic’s initial economic boost waning for many, brands must reshape their core offerings to not just accommodate but thrive in our new pandemic-tinged reality. Products and services must now be both emotive and productive, aspirational and practical, and accessible and coveted.  

“Brands must reshape their core offerings to not just accommodate but thrive in our new pandemic-tinged reality.”

To no surprise, we found that brands that scored high on relevance also delivered innovative experiences. Here are three brands that rose to the top over the past year by delivering exceptional experiences and innovative products: 

Apple: Technology Becomes Responsible 

Apple was again the number one most relevant brand on our index this year. However, there’s more to the story than an easy reign at the top. The technology titan’s dominance today seems second-nature, but it’s jarring to remember that inventions like the iPad and the MacBook are no more than 12 and 20 years old respectively. As the arc of technology lengthens, it is finally curving into the next phase of innovation maturity – products and services that are not just good to use, but good for you as well. 

Apple has come under fire in the past for customer-antagonistic practices like planned obsolescence and hardware incompatibility. However, the brand has improved its trust with users in the last year by rolling out products like the AirTag, which helps users locate lost Apple products, and iOS features like Screen Time and Focus mode, which helps users monitor and limit usage of their Apple devices.  

While reducing the usage of its products may initially seem counterintuitive to Apple’s business goals, we believe product responsibility is actually the next iteration of customer-centricity. By showing users that they care about more than just maximizing KPIs, brands are truly centering them in their design. Sure enough, Apple scored highest on our Index when it came to sentiments like “is modern and in touch” and “meets an important need in my life”, proving that doing what’s truly best for customers ultimately makes for a more trustworthy, human and innovative brand. 

Takeaway: Brands must be motivated by more than sales or singular KPIs if they want to create continuously innovative products and everlastingly relevant services.  

Spotify: Fine-tuned, Personalized Experiences 

Spotify rocked to the top of the BRI, coming in third overall. We’ve rarely seen a brand blend the art and science of personalization as well as Spotify has consistently done for customers. Hallmark experiences like Spotify Wrapped that use user data to create genuinely interesting, shareable narratives have now become synonymous with Spotify’s value to users and triggered an avalanche of copycat experiences across industries, from financial services to food delivery. 

By tapping into users’ pride in their unique music tastes and their distinctly young, trendy demographic, Spotify has been able to serve up one-to-one personalized features like musical birth charts and shared playlist generators. The brand also recognizes the importance of optimizing for a social, highly shareable customer experience, using this key customer insight to create features like Group Sessions, Lyrics and even launch innovative new physical products like Car Thing.  

Spotify is so tuned into their millennial-skewing demographic that one might even say it verges on “cheugy”, but one thing is for certain—Spotify has created strong business returns. Spotify’s user base expanded to 180 million active users in Q4 2021, up 16% YoY and generated over $10 billion in 2021 revenue, up 40% YoY. No wonder it scored the highest on this year’s BRI among consumers for statements like “makes me happy” and “is modern and in-touch.”  

Takeaway: Knowing what emotionally connects to your customers and showing them the data to back it up is the key to creating superior user experiences. 

PlayStation: The Immersive Portal for Play 

Sony’s PlayStation brand powered onwards, rising from number nine to number seven in this year’s Index. As the metaverse expands and Big Tech makes a big bet on the future of play being completely virtual, entertainment companies are seizing an even bigger opportunity space to innovate. PlayStation is certainly one of these movers and shakers, implementing a two-pronged innovation strategy that prioritizes both excellent hardware and unbeatable software.  

The latest PlayStation®5 (PS5™) model was an instant sell-out when it hit stores in late 2020, thanks to next-gen visual, audio and haptic features that allowed for an all-immersive gaming experience. Since then, PlayStation has prioritized building out more cutting-edge technology, like AR/VR, while making sure to optimize for important current channels like mobile and social streaming platforms. At the same time, parent company Sony continues to invest in top-notch content by inking exclusive deals with big franchises like Marvel’s Spiderman and Horizon.  

Even as the pandemic’s boost to the gaming industry wanes, PlayStation has held steady, scoring high on BRI Index sentiments like “delivers a consistent experience” and “is modern and in-touch.” And the numbers speak for themselves, as PlayStation coasted to first place with $24.87 billion at the end of 2021, beating out Microsoft’s Xbox at $16.28 billion and Nintendo’s $15.3 billion. 

Takeaway: Pairing relentlessly relevant core experiences with an innovative, well-engineered physical product makes PlayStation’s brand an endgame for users. 


From technology to entertainment, fitness to food, the most innovative brands on the BRI this year all share a common thread of exceptional experiences that wrap seamlessly around their core offering. The connection between brand relevance and user experience continues to strengthen as consumers expect increasingly more from businesses. Responsible products, personalized services and immersive content are all innovative ways brands can rise to the top and stay relevant in today’s human-centric world.   


Webinar Replay: Executing on Customer-Centricity in Financial Services

The secret to becoming genuinely customer centric? Start with holistic, human-centered cultural change.

61 min

Prophet’s financial services team leaders moderate a discussion with executives from Principal Financial Group, Equitable and US Bank on the ways financial services organizations can overcome barriers to growth by transforming their cultures to be more customer-centric.

Watch to learn: 

  • The skills, capabilities and processes needed to advance customer-centric transformation
  • The challenges leaders are facing as they change their cultures to operationalize customer-centricity
  • The top priorities of senior leaders advancing transformation agendas of their own


  • Beth Wood, Chief Marketing Officer, Principal Financial Group
  • Andrea Shultz, Head of Workplace Retirement Marketing, Equitable
  • Kai Sakstrup, Chief Strategy Offer, US Bank


Executing on Customer-Centricity

Financial services execs tell us how they are transforming corporate culture, thinking bigger and acting bolder.

How Financial Services Organizations Can Unlock Uncommon Growth

Non-traditional players – like fintechs, “super apps” and neobanks – have built their businesses around serving the whole customer. They use digital technology to open new sources of demand, and they find growth opportunities by constantly evaluating customer behaviors and designing solutions to fill the gaps.

Dealing with decades-old technology and product-centric org charts, traditional financial services organizations face higher barriers to achieving customer-centricity. To win and retain their customers, they’ll need to think and act like a disrupter by being hyper-focused on the 360-degree customer view.

Executing on Customer-Centricity is the latest research from Prophet’s Financial Services practice. It includes interviews with nearly 50 senior executives with customer-facing responsibilities across banking, insurance and financial services.  Our findings will help financial services organizations think bigger and act bolder, enabling them to achieve customer-centricity across the entire enterprise by transforming their cultures.

Read this report to gain deeper insights on:

  • The practice of customer-centricity – and how it pays off in share of wallet, higher loyalty, more referrals and stronger operational gains
  • The top five industry-specific challenges faced when it comes to achieving customer-centricity
  • The five actions legacy companies can take now to better orient themselves around their customers
  • A refreshed approach to transformation with culture as the keystone and Prophet’s Human-Centered Transformation Model™ as the guide

Download the report below.

Download Executing on Customer-Centricity

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Thank you for your interest in Prophet’s research!


Pinduoduo’s Purpose-Led Agri-Tech Innovation: A Conversation with Xin Yi Lim

This tech company focuses on farmer productivity while reducing the environmental footprint of farming.

E-commerce continues to surge globally, in part accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and in many ways, China leads the charge. While some Chinese companies, such as Alibaba and Meituan, have focused on building ecosystems and “super apps,” Pinduoduo’s approach differs. With origins in agriculture and social commerce, Pinduoduo has risen to the top through an innovative business model that is set on creating value for both the merchant and the consumer. In 2020, Pinduoduo was ranked third by GMV of China’s e-commerce platforms, with a total GMV of $242 billion USD.

Prophet’s Tom Zhang, a senior engagement manager, had the chance to sit down with Xin Yi Lim, Pinduoduo’s executive director of sustainability and agricultural impact, to discuss Pinduoduo’s investment in agri-tech, its view on the consumer-to-manufacturer (C2M) model and the company’s ongoing purpose-led innovation initiatives.

Xin Yi Lim


Executive Director of Sustainability and Agricultural Impact

As Pinduoduo’s executive director of sustainability and agricultural impact, Xin Yi Lim is responsible for Pinduoduo’s international corporate strategy efforts and innovation in sustainability and agri-tech. Before joining Pinduoduo in late 2018, she worked for Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund, GIC, in both its Singapore and New York offices as a technology and media analyst in the Public Equities division. Xin Yi holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Oxford and a master’s degree from Harvard University.

Can you tell us a bit more about your background? What brought you to Pinduoduo, and what is your current role there?

I’ve spent most of my working life in investment, covering technology, the internet and media. As a financial analyst and an outsider, I was familiar with Chinese e-commerce but very much interested in learning more.

I joined Pinduoduo in late 2018. I’m part of the broader strategy and investment team, but my title is quite unusual – executive director of sustainability and agricultural impact. It’s very hard to find anybody else who has those two things in one title, which speaks to how Pinduoduo sees agriculture. For us, it’s where we can have a huge impact in the social sphere, via poverty alleviation and job creation, and in the environmental sphere as well.

What is Pinduoduo’s ambition behind its continued focus on agriculture, even as the company has expanded into numerous other categories?

In the beginning, there was Pinduoduo and there was also Pinhaohuo (拼好货), which was focused solely on agricultural goods. We merged the two in 2016, and as a result, agriculture remained deeply rooted in our DNA. Even as we grew into selling other categories of goods, agriculture stayed at the forefront as a sector where we could have a large-scale impact and accelerate change.

As a technology company, we’re constantly thinking about how we can disseminate agricultural technologies to improve farmer productivity while reducing the environmental footprint of farming. By leveraging these technologies, customers can get the same product, or perhaps even one that is more nutritious, while reducing the environmental impact. Broadly, that’s how Pinduoduo thinks about agriculture, technology and sustainability.

As a platform, where can Pinduoduo have the biggest impact in the agricultural value chain?

The way agricultural products make their way to market – the distribution channel – has not yet been transformed as it has for other categories. We estimate only about 7% to 8% of the total dollar value of agricultural products transacted in a year is happening online.

That caught our attention because we know shifting online can unlock a lot of efficiencies in the supply chain. Through the Pinduoduo model, we are able to bring the produce directly from farmers to customers, cutting down on any unnecessary intermediaries in between. And by doing this, the farmer can earn more while the consumer can save more. It becomes a win-win for the producers and the consumers.

“As a technology company, we’re constantly thinking about how we can disseminate agricultural technologies to improve farmer productivity while reducing the environmental footprint of farming.”

The knock-on effect is also more prevalent now that the farmers are more plugged into the economy. This is because they have a direct sense of what their target consumers like. They can understand how consumers respond to certain pricing or packaging if there is stronger demand for large oranges versus small oranges or how demand changes throughout the year. We want to empower farmers so that they’re not just price-takers in the traditional distribution model, but instead, can be more actively involved in producing what consumers actually want. This is where we can add value and how we bring the C2M model to life.

Can you elaborate on how Pinduoduo incorporates the C2M model in its overall strategy?

In China, there is a very strong manufacturing base on the supply side. However, the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) often lack the expertise and insights to create distinctive brand identities and value propositions that connect with their consumers. Thus, we are coming up with new ways to enable domestic producers to leverage their own IP, understand consumer needs and create products and brands that resonate with the market.

Our New Brands Initiative, launched in late 2018, is one way we are bringing this to life. We have dedicated vertical specialists who work with manufacturers from each category, sharing emerging market and consumer trends with the goal of turning manufacturers from OEMs to Original Brand Manufacturers (OBMs). Based on these category trends as well as their own merchant data we provide via the platform, merchants are able to adjust their offerings accordingly and consider how to upgrade their marketing. That’s also where brand building begins. Brands can’t be everything to everyone, so by providing insights and narrowing the focus, C2M can help manufacturers develop their own value propositions and their own brands.

China has the benefit of having one of the highest levels of penetration of e-commerce. This speeds everything up, from product development to pricing to SKU assortment, by allowing manufacturers to get feedback in real-time.

Can you give a few examples of some of the initiatives Pinduoduo is undertaking in terms of innovation?

Pinduoduo is training a new generation of agri-entrepreneurs. In the past five years, we’ve trained one hundred thousand “new farmers,” a younger, more educated generation that is migrating back to their hometowns, and we’re committed to training one hundred thousand more. These are the ones who are managing the storefront, packaging, customer service and distribution and at the same time, they are also mobilizing the rest of their rural communities to join them in the digital economy. We bring business expertise via online and offline classes and then partner with institutions such as China Agricultural University to teach agricultural knowledge. Through these agri-entrepreneurs, we’re hoping to start improving the branding of agricultural goods in China, which is very undeveloped.

Our long-term goal is to bring in more upstream, purpose-led innovation. We’re in year two of hosting the Smart Agriculture Competition. We bring together global technology teams with backgrounds in AI, machine learning and plant science to compete against traditional, premium horticulture teams. We then put these teams in a smart greenhouse that they control remotely using IoT, monitoring the plants and making precise adjustments whenever needed. In last year’s competition, the AI teams produced three times as many strawberries and generated 76% higher ROI compared to the traditional teams. Not only was it very impressive to the farmers, but some of the technology experts also went on to work with the farmers after the competition. The Smart Agriculture Competition creates an opportunity to test the teams’ technologies on a bigger scale. At the same time, the farmers benefit from the efficiencies and see the real-world impact.

Pinduoduo has referred to itself as a “Costco+Disney” concept. Can you elaborate on what this means and how it guides Pinduoduo’s innovation and strategy?

The Costco+Disney concept ties in with Pinduoduo’s slogan: More Savings, More Fun (多实惠,多乐趣). The Costco part, “more savings,” comes from our early insight that we could get more value for money by aggregating demand. The Disney part, “more fun,” speaks to people’s desire for a social shopping experience.

We designed Pinduoduo to be very interactive. The app offers a social connection that helps users discover things more easily compared to the traditional e-commerce model, which is very individualistic. The “team purchase” model is a big part of the social element. Livestreaming serves as another interactive element, which helps build trust between consumers and merchants. It allows them to see how things are made, how it looks, which helps consumers feel closer to the producers, creating trust.


We don’t want shopping to feel like a chore. We want it to be a fun part of your daily routine. Within the e-commerce industry, we’ve achieved one of the highest engagement rates in terms of monthly active users and daily active users. By emphasizing more savings and more fun, we’ve found a way for users to engage willingly and regularly.

Learn how your organization could drive innovation through a purpose-driven approach. Contact us today!


How To Respond to New Customer Expectations Around Data and Experience

People feel vulnerable. Build trust by finding new ways to show them you’re protecting their data.

The most lasting change of the pandemic is likely the “digital load shift,” as people rapidly adopted new tech habits that experts once thought would take years to establish.

These behaviors have radically changed the way people experience the world. They’re buying houses they’ve never physically stepped inside, working with people they’ve never met in real life and investing in stocks recommended by their social-media community.

Even as COVID-19 vaccination rates, this digital load shift is here to stay, and with it are increasing privacy concerns and higher expectations for what a “good” experience feels like. Better-informed consumers are demanding more from the devices, networks and brands they use. For financial-services companies during their own digital transformations, this presents a valuable opportunity to re-assess priorities across their own digital roadmaps.

A Growing Sense of Vulnerability

It’s not entirely accurate to link consumers’ growing wariness to the pandemic. Certainly, the 2018 Facebook/Cambridge Analytics scandal rattled trust in Big Tech. And the mistrust doesn’t stop there. “The Social Dilemma,” a Netflix documentary detailing the ways companies like Google and Facebook manipulate consumers, was one of the most popular releases last year Google, at least for the moment, has an edge in the battle for trust, with 66% of people saying they generally trust it, versus just 38% for Facebook).

As companies try and move past the pandemic, they must address these suspicions. If businesses want people to share data, they need to offer more in return, including greater customer control over the data, transparency in how it is used, and greater value for data exchanged.

It’s not likely people will cut back on their digital life. American adults now spend 16-plus hours per day with digital media, up 25% from pre-pandemic levels. But they’re smarter, with 54% saying COVID-19 has made them more aware of the personal data they share.

While they are alert to high-profile breaches, 50% say they are still willing to share – as long as they get a fair value in return. The majority – 56% – want more control and better information about how that information will be used. Google Pay, for example, has released a control center for users to control their data for personalization, payments profile and transactions and activities.

Linking Digital Experiences

Winning with these skeptical consumers will become more difficult as the load shift from analog to digital channels accelerates.

“They’ll increasingly expect experiences that link and mutually enforce each other across all other channels.”

Consumer preferences and behavior have leapfrogged by years and 75% of consumers say they’ll continue using the digital channels they’ve started to use during the pandemic. This spans across age groups and channels. About 44% of consumers say the pandemic has led them to use their banking apps more. Some 71% of consumers aged 55 and older prefer an internet chat/video insurance claim process to replace the traditional in-office approach. Two-thirds of consumers prefer to book and reschedule appointments online rather than over the phone.

Forward-looking firms know these changes are here to stay and are actively solving for the new future state, rather than trying to play catch up to the 2019 status quo. About 86% of financial services executives plan to increase their AI-related investments through 2025. One-third of banks plan to increase spending on digital channels over the next year.

Emerging as a category leader takes exceptional strategic innovation and a digital roadmap that can adapt to unforeseen market changes.

Capital One, for example, uses cloud and artificial intelligence to connect customer experience across all touchpoints. Prospect and customer feedback is gathered across channels and stages of the journey and is synthesized using natural language processing to optimize the experience. As the first U.S. bank to operate completely on the cloud, Capital One uses cloud data systems to maintain a unified customer view across all channels.

As financial services companies transition from analog to digital experiences, they must follow consumer preferences closely to innovate more quickly. It’s more than having the right technology to deliver those experiences – it’s cohesively linking those experiences across channels.

Three Ways to Strengthen Digital Trust and Reinforce Omnichannel Experiences

1) Create an “opt-in” strategy

Include methods for asking for “opt-in,” centralizing how prospects and customers can manage their data within the ecosystem.

2) Perform qualitative research to understand the importance of data control in experiences.

Audit prospect and customer touchpoints that request data. Is it clear how data will be used? Is the value exchange meaningful and easy to understand?

3) Define existing and new opportunities for points of convergence.

To develop mutually reinforcing and cohesive multichannel experiences, companies must prioritize opportunities. Which experiences are most desirable to our customers? Are they viable for our industry? Are they feasible for our business? Leaders must adapt their transformation roadmaps to make sure both experience design and technology builds toward this convergence.


As people journey into increasing levels of digital sophistication, striving to protect their privacy and financial data isn’t enough. Financial services companies will have to continually demonstrate how they are adopting new technology to serve customers better. Developing a distinctive, durable quid-pro-quo for this data exchange is the next frontier for financial services. To achieve uncommon growth, these companies can’t just keep up with the latest in technology. They’ll have to lead.

To learn more about the latest market and consumer trends impacting your business – reach out to Prophet.