By Anne Jarry, director of marketing, Selligent Marketing Cloud
There is no doubt that, in the past year, changes to consumer behaviour have occurred faster and more extreme than ever before, and many of these changes are here for the long term.
Digital adoption has skyrocketed as consumers and brands alike responded to the new demands of lockdowns and social distancing. That’s bought with it new expectations for shopping, customer service and marketing that will stick around long after the pandemic ends.
It’s critical now that brands are adapting their messaging, strategy and priorities for a new-age of consumers.
So, what exactly have businesses learned over the past year?
Messaging is everything
There has been a seismic change in what people are buying and how they are buying it. According to Selligent’s most recent consumer survey 60% consumers now focus on buying essential items and almost a third (29%) say their shopping behaviours have changed forever.
These changes have been largely driven by a change in employment, with 75% of global respondents reporting that they have less work. Despite the economy and jobs market recovering, conservative approaches to spending will have a lasting effect, making it more important for brands to cater to cost conscious customers in the long term.
While people do remain optimistic overall with the vast majority (82%) believing they will be employed again in the near future, there will be long term impacts. For example over half respondents believe that working remotely will be part of their future.
Brands must respond to the changing reality of everyday life. More people working at home means greater opportunities to cater to the new work / life balance. That might mean less footfall on the high street, but it also means a new opportunity to target and cater to, consumers everyday life in the 2020s.
64% of consumers for example now want mobile and contactless pick-up or check-in options. Accessible shopping will become the standard, with consumers around the world coming to expect a contactless experience as part of a seamless, efficient, and flexible omnichannel customer approach.
Never underestimate good customer service
The good news for brands is that with the shift in behaviour, consumers are becoming more patient overall. 38% agree that brands have made a considerable effort to improve their customer experience in the last year.
Don’t underestimate the role of flexible and empathetic customer service – quality products with competitive pricing plus an understanding attitude means customers will stick with brands for the long haul.
Ever changing consumer behaviours mean that 75% of consumers now prefer to receive brand communications via email or mobile, and only a third prefer to start customer support interactions via phone or customer service representatives. This underpins the importance of both marketing and customer service being available across channels, including email, website chat, social, and SMS/text.
Brands that can adapt and offer digital and real-life experiences that weave seamlessly together will drive economic recovery for the commerce industry. Omnichannel fluidity and flexibility will allow brands to cater to changing consumer needs addressing things like safety, real-time updates and options in this “new normal” of consumerism.
There is a real opportunity for brands to continue to instill consumer confidence with strong offerings and relevance focusing on delivering what customers truly want and need during this time.
Customer loyalty is a fine balance
The meaning of loyalty is changing in this new age of consumerism too – only 8% consumers now say a brand name is important to their loyalty.
The real driver for repeat custom is tangible benefits, with over half of consumers saying sales or deals are the most valuable communications from brands, and that buyer perks and freebies show that brands care about consumers.
There is a fine balance however; 2 out of 5 respondents unsubscribed from multiple brand emails with 55% citing that they received “too many”.
More privacy means higher customer trust
Privacy is another critical factor for consumers. Our survey showed that for 64% privacy is now more important than online experience.
Digital marketers need to build trust with consumers by understanding their needs and preferences more closely. 2021 will see brands collaborate with consumers to create a more personalised online experience combined with greater control and respect for privacy.
Despite the evolving world around us, the tenets of a customer-first focus on delivering exceptional customer experiences remain true. Consumers are changing and it’s up to brands to keep up by understanding what they want, and how to keep up.CoronavirusCOVID-19