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Lynne McNameeJan 4, 2021 9:56:21 AM3 min read

2021 Insight into Learner Engagement

Do you think of your Learners as consumers? Not just as consumers of content, but as consumers of brands. If you don't, you should start. You might get a unique insight into your struggle with "engagement."

In Forrester's "The Future Of The Empowered Consumer In The US" report, they identify:

  • Progressive Pioneers - those who lead the demand for product and experience innovation -- make up 20% of consumers
  • Savvy Seekers - those who are among the first to learn about innovation and exhibit high rates of engagement with new products -- make up 15%
  • Convenience Conformers — those who opt for digital products and services largely to enhance the speed and ease of their experiences — make up 44%.
  • Innovation-averse Settled Survivors (evolve at a glacial pace and are motivated by adaptation, rather than trend-setting) and Reserved Resisters (are least enthusiastic about product or experience innovation) are down to 21% of the consumer base from 35% in 2015.

By looking at preferences of the Progressive Pioneers, who drive the trends in consumer behavior and expectations, Learning and Development professionals can get a head start on what will connect best with their learners and be in alignment with their experiences outside of formal L&D. Forrester suggests the Progressive Pioneers are looking for these efforts to be implemented now, whereas the slower adapters will expect these to be incorporated within 3-5 years.

Three major trends noted in the report:

1. "The most empowered consumers need both online and offline interactions for meaningful experiences," Anjali Lai, a senior analyst at Forrester, wrote in the report. "Rather than replacing 'offline' behaviors with 'online' alternatives, use multiple types of experiences to build a richer, holistic emotional journey."

2. More than half (57%) of consumers have spurned personalization to preserve their privacy, per a recent survey The Conference Board conducted in partnership with Nielsen. As we incorporate more personalization, be respectful of where it might cross a line.

3. Progressive Pioneers demanding that brands help their communities and show a commitment to sustainability follows previous research that indicates consumers increasingly want purpose-led actions from brands to come down to the local level. Forrester suggests that brands work to clarify their commitments to social, environmental or culture values to preserve trust with these consumers.

Learning and Development cannot pretend that Learners are entirely different species when engaged in training activities. Learners bring their history, their hopes and their frustrations with them whether engaged in synchronous or asynchronous learning. Their expectations are formed by what they experience in other mediums, including the impact of marketing while they browse the internet, watch tv, play video games, go to a store, drive down the highway and the many other places where marketing is experienced. 

Learner expectations are formed by what they experience in other mediums


By using the insights and conditioning created by the marketing industry, the Learning industry can leverage the insights to provide an entry point for learning efforts. This will lead to less resistance and a greater familiarity with the formats, so that the learner is in a better frame of mind to receive and process the learning content. Rather than all elements being new, the attention can be focused on the content and not the structure and process by which it is delivered...while also seeming relevant as it's aligned with experiences in someone's daily life. And that relevancy is a critical component of the desire to be engaged.

What do you think? 


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Lynne McNamee

Lone Armadillo is led by Lynne McNamee. Having directed the Avis Rent A Car®, Hewlett-Packard Company and Bank of America® accounts, Lynne has deep experience in both strategy and execution for Fortune 50 clients. She is recognized as a unique and creative thinker, most notably for introducing synergies among brands, products and new technologies. Lynne is a senior marketing professional and strategic thinker who leverages data and technology to lead innovative teams to measurable results through UX and omni-channel marketing while building strong client relationships. She has a proven record helping companies increase market share, create sustainable growth and improve ROI by developing focused strategy, actionable plans, sustainable processes and measurable tactics.