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Addressing the Paradoxes of the Age of I: Best Practices

Since 2013 our annual IHG Trend Reports have shared insights into the ever-changing world and provided best practices to help make brands fit for the future. We are once again pleased to do so in our latest 2017 trends report: The Uncompromising Customer: Addressing the Paradoxes of the Age of I which can be downloaded in full or as a summary here.

A brief summary

The report highlights the uncompromising nature of today’s customer who increasingly expects brands to deliver experiences that satisfy contradictory needs.

The report recognises that, in a landscape constantly changing through advances in technology, customers don’t want either/or solutions – they want the best of both worlds. 

IHG’s research identifies four paradoxes that are driving the decisions customers make:

  • The Paradox of Separate but Connected: Seeking a constant belonging with people, brands and places, while also seeking individuality and the desire to communicate uniqueness of self
  • The Paradox of Abundant Rarity: A desire for luxury to be both scarce and available
  • The Paradox of Seeking a Better Me and a Better We: Seeking personal self-improvement, while seeking public, civic or global improvement
  • Do It Myself and Do It for Me in My Way: A desire to be in control while not being the controller

There is a level of expectation for brands and businesses to optimise those conflicting needs which is why global brands must address the consumer paradoxes of the Age of I, by being locally relevant and personally differentiating.

So how is IHG addressing some of the paradoxes of the Age of I?

Customers are increasingly interested in how marketers treat others internally and externally. At IHG as part of our employer brand we believe in being part of something bigger – this belief runs internally through our teams across the globe which is consequently visible externally to our customers. Internally as a brand we celebrate individuals and their unique contributions which enable us to build strong, collaborative teams. This delivers against the paradox of Seeking a Better Me and a Better by increasing both personal performance and business performance – thus aligning our internal values with that of our guests.

Right from the moment a career starts at IHG, we encourage colleagues to share their unique stories and IHG experiences on social media platforms, using the hashtag #LifeAtIHG. This gives colleagues the opportunity to be a part of something bigger. In 2016 #LifeAtIHG reached nearly 25 million people on Twitter and Instagram.


IHG’s six best practices to address the paradoxes of the Age of I

In the 2017 Trends Report, IHG has identified six best practices through which brands can create experiences that strengthen customer relationships and grow brand loyalty:

1.Aim for Integration Rather than Balance

In a world of paradoxes, aiming for balance could seem a little ironic. Balancing conflicting customer needs is not enough; a better holistic experience needs to be created through the integration of these opposing needs. To integrate means to combine two or more entities. It means moving from promising a compromise to delivering the best of both.

2.Use Needs-driven, Occasion-based Segmentation for Superior Business Management

We should recognise that people’s needs change based on the occasion. Needs-driven, occasion-based, segmentation is not just a marketing tool, but needs to be a core part of a company’s thinking


3.Communicate with Conversation

Brand experiences are built on relationships with customers who feel connected to each other while expressing who they are as individuals. Brands must listen to customers to understand their needs and communicate with them in a way that makes the experience more meaningful to them as individuals.

4.Manage the Brand’s Multi-Dimensionality

In The Age of I a brand must include relevant and differentiating features as well as functional, emotional and social benefits. The combination of these builds a distinctive brand character. A compelling brand experience should engage its customers with an experience that isn’t over simplified but well-rounded and multi-dimensional.   

5.Develop ambidextrous brand-business team: 

A brand needs teams that include divergent thinkers, with individual strengths and passions, who can also work in an integrated manner to create the cohesive initiatives that drive brand success

6.Address the Paradox of Brand Control: 

Businesses must not give up control of the brand to the external world, yet they must allow the consumers have their say and help influence the brand’s reputation 


If you would like to join the hospitality industry surrounded with ever-evolving trends that has customer relationships and loyalty at its heart then why not take a look at the list of worldwide opportunities we have available. Who knows, you could be an application away from a life-changing career! 

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