This blog is the second part of a three-part series. Click to read Part 1 and Part 3.

In Part 1 of this series, we established that companies currently focused only on a mobile first strategy are at

risk of falling behind the customer experience curve. Context first will soon replace mobile first and become the leading approach for creating a more seamless and

effective customer experience.

Here, we will explore the details of context first, and begin to examine customer experience leaders that are paving the way.

The true purpose

Context first strategy focuses on understanding why customers are engaging with companies to begin with.According to Solv’s co-founder, JP Stallard,

context first is an exercise in “asking the right questions and understanding the true purpose of a product or service.

As opposed to mobile first, context first seeks to understand the complete environment surrounding the customer and leverages mobile devices as tools for

determining context and not as the sole element of context. What’s more contextually relevant is:

  1. Who is using it;
  2. Where exactly they are using it in terms of geo-location, time of day, duration, indoors or outdoors, on premise or off premise; and finally
  3. What their relationship is to the brand, product or service in question.

As summarized by Mike Roberts, Principal at Capgemini Consulting: “driven by mobile, brands can now get deeper into your daily life.”

Context first focuses attention on delivering a customer experience which is both highly personalized and responsive to each phase in the customer’s decision

journey. By taking the time to observe customers in many contexts, companies can develop customer personas based on a blend of quantitative and qualitative attributes,

focusing on what each persona needs, wants, and cares about, and what their objectives are most likely to be across various contexts. Using a small number of refined

personas as design targets, companies can begin to offer each customer a tailored experience in a range of contexts.

Context first leaders

Consider EpicMix Ski, a mobile application that was developed by Vail Mountain Resort. EpicMix Ski is designed to segment users and adapt its behavior based on

learnings from the wide variety of visitors that flock to Vail each year. With EpicMix Ski, ‘thrill-seeking mountain bashers’ will receive different

information and prompts to, say, ‘ski-bunnies’ that are more interested in hanging in the lounge.


This smart adaptation delivers a differentiated experience that is more valuable to both customer segments, and does so by understanding the likely intent of the

customer based on their persona and the context they are in – for example, whether on their way towards mountain in the morning or on the resort’s premises

in the evening.

According to John Devanney, Managing Director at Moment, understanding the customer’s mindset is key. In particular, “the customer’s psychological

makeup at the point in the experience you are designing.”

Capgemini’s Roberts agrees and emphasizes the criticality of asking the question:

“What is the customer doing before and after engaging with the brand?””

To illustrate, women’s clothing retailer Rebecca Minkoff incorporates digital dressing rooms that enable virtual fittings and customizable adjustments in the

lighting to match the environment in which the shopper intends to wear the clothing.

The digital dressing rooms are designed with the understanding that customers are interested in knowing what a dress will look like in mood lighting at a restaurant,

or how a coat will look in the sunlight, rather than in a fluorescently-lit dressing room.

Rebecca Minkoff

Uber is another company making considerable strides into context first. Its ability to detect the user’s location and tie it with regional regulations ensures

both drivers and passengers enjoy trouble-free pickups.

Imagine if Uber were not context-aware and allowed passengers to request rides at locations where UberX is not legally allowed (for example at certain airports),

resulting in traffic tickets for the driver and major inconveniences and delays for the passenger.

For the unconvinced

Still need more reasons why adopting context first truly matters? There are strong indicators that context first will deliver improved business results. For instance,

61% of smartphone users say they are more

likely to buy from an app or mobile website that customizes information to their location. Personalized purchase recommendations based on previous consumer

interactions can increase conversion rates by as much as 20%.

Just imagine the possibilities as context first is only in its infancy. For Uber, this means predicting when customers will need a ride before they request it. EpicMix

Ski may facilitate bookings based on their market segmentations. Context first is all about finding the best ways to serve customers in their world.

Now, what constitutes ‘context’? What customer attributes do companies need to pay attention to in order to create this highly personalized customer


In Part 3 of this series, we will break down what companies can do to begin their context first approach.

This blog was co-authored by:

Tony Fross

Tony is a Vice President and NA Lead for Digital Customer Experience. He helps

clients advance their business through the application of digital strategies and technologies, creating entirely new go-to-market strategies and even businesses which

were not possible before the advent of Digital.

Rohit Mahajan

Rohit is a Senior Consultant in the New York City

office. He has experience across a broad array of industries, including retail, consumer packaged goods, financial services, and life sciences. He is passionate

about long-term strategy and digital innovation.

Kyte Feng

Kyte is a Senior Consultant in the Digital Marketing

Advisory practice and based in Los Angeles, California. He has extensive experience in product strategy, business model strategy, and customer experience design in

various industries such as CP, ecommerce, healthcare, and automotive.