There is no doubt that since the onset of the pandemic, changes in consumer behavior occurred faster and more extreme than ever before. Digital adoption skyrocketed as consumers and brands responded to new demands for blockchain and social distancing. That led to new shopping expectations and customer service and marketing that will remain even after the pandemic ends.
It is now critical for brands to adapt their messages, strategies and priorities for a new era of consumers. Within a marketing strategy there are certain must-have elements to be and remain competitive in the marketplace.
The importance of the message
There has been a radical change in what people are buying and how they are buying it. According to Selligent’s most recent consumer survey, 60% of consumers now focus on buying essentials and nearly one-third (29%) say their shopping behaviors changed for good.
These changes were largely driven by a shift in employment, with 75% of global respondents reporting that they have fewer jobs. Although the economy and labor market are recovering, conservative approaches to spending will have a lasting effect, making it more important for brands to cater to cost-conscious customers over the long term.
While people remain optimistic overall and the vast majority (82%) believe they will return to work in the near future, there will be long-term impacts. For example, more than half of respondents believe that working remotely will be part of their future.
Brands must respond to the changing realities of everyday life. More people working from home means more opportunities to cater to the new work/life balance. That could mean fewer crowds on the high street, but it also means a new opportunity to target and serve consumers in everyday life in the 2020s.
Sixty-four percent of consumers, for example, now want mobile and contactless delivery or checkout options. Accessible shopping will become the standard, and consumers everywhere will expect a contactless experience as part of a seamless, efficient and flexible customer approach.
The good news for brands is that consumers are becoming more patient overall. Thirty-eight percent agree that brands made a considerable effort to improve their customers’ experience in the last year.
The role of flexible and empathetic customer service should not be underestimated: quality products with competitive pricing plus a sympathetic attitude means customers will stick with brands for the long term.
Invest in omnichannel offerings
Ever-changing consumer behavior means that 75% now prefer to receive brand communications via email or mobile, and only one-third prefer to initiate customer support interactions via phone or customer service representatives. This underscores the importance of making both marketing and customer service available across all channels, including email, website chat, social media and text messaging.
Brands can adapt and deliver digital and real-life experiences and will drive the industry’s economic recovery. Omnichannel fluidity and flexibility will enable the changing needs of consumers, addressing aspects such as security, real-time updates and choice in this “new normal” of consumerism.
There is a real opportunity for brands to continue to instill consumer trust with robust and relevant offerings, focusing on delivering what customers really want and need during this time.
Tangible benefits build loyalty
Only 8% of consumers now say a brand is important to their loyalty. The real driver of repeat custom is tangible benefits, with more than half of consumers saying that sales or offers are the most valuable communications from brands, and that shopper perks and gifts show that brands care about consumers. However, there is a fine balance; 2 in 5 respondents unsubscribed to multiple branded emails and 55% said they received “too many.”
Privacy builds trust
The survey showed that for 64% privacy is now more important than the online experience. Digital marketers must build trust with consumers by understanding their needs and preferences more closely. In 2021, brands will collaborate with consumers to create a more personalized online experience combined with greater control and respect for privacy.
Despite the evolving world around us, the principles of a customer-first approach to delivering exceptional customer experiences remain true. Consumers are changing and it’s up to brands to keep up by understanding what each of them want.