Merkle, a leading technology-enabled, data-driven customer experience management (CXM) company, has released The Next Generation of Consumer Behaviors, a research report designed to help marketers learn more about customer perceptions and behaviors in three key areas: convenience, reliability, and responsibility. The report, which surveyed 1,000 US consumers from a wide range of age groups and backgrounds in October 2021, finds that in an era of dramatic changes, a power shift has taken place – giving consumers the upper hand over brands when it comes to when, where, and how they engage.
“Consumers have become more socially conscious and vocal about their perspectives and are looking to support brands that align with their personal values. Additionally, they have drastically changed the way they engage with brands,” said Pete Stein, global experience & commerce lead at Merkle/CXM. “Consumers expect brands to evolve with them and behave in ways that reflect what is most important to them – including the channels in which they engage, the products they are interested in, and the way they perceive the world. Brands of the future keep up with rapidly changing consumer sentiments because if they can’t, consumers will find brands that can.”
According to the report, in 2022, the onus is on brands to do right by their consumers. As such, their primary challenge this year will not only be navigating the new dynamics of the consumer-brand relationship, but also understanding ever-changing customer behaviors and expectations.
The Next Generation of Consumer Behaviors report solidifies this idea of a moving target and provides insight into the core areas brand leaders should prioritize this year. Key findings include:
- Consumers want options. 84% of consumers still made an in-store purchase in the past year, while 68% had a product delivered to their home.
- Social responsibility is imperative. 76% of millennials and 83% of Gen Zers feel that brands should take a stance on social issues, compared to 59% of consumers that are 41 years old or older.
- Brands are missing the mark. Only 14% of consumers say brands ”greatly” know them, remember them, and understand their needs.
- Consumer trust is shifting. Only 24% of consumers feel that micro-influencers and macro-influencers/celebrities are either somewhat or very important in motivating them to buy from a brand.
It is nearly impossible for a brand to nail down exactly what consumers want – as they are not singularly focused or driven and those demands vary by generation. Thus, focusing on what is most important to consumers can serve as the ideal roadmap for brands seeking to meet and exceed expectations. In 2022, brands must prioritize three truths:
- The Power of Convenience – Whether it is speed of delivery or the safety associated with the shopping experience, convenience plays a powerful role in how and where consumers get what they need. Nearly half of consumers said convenience while finding products was very important to them – and 84% said it was either very or somewhat important – which led to all aspects of the customer journey. Checkout convenience came in second, with 46% saying it was very important (and 82% saying either very or somewhat important).
- Brands Have Got to Relate – Consumers want relationships with the brands in which they choose to engage on a more personalized, one-to-one level. However, only 14% of consumers feel brands truly know and understand them. Consumers want to be heard by brands and want brands to convey that same kind of transparency. Honesty, trustworthiness, and great customer service, where consumers are treated as individuals, are incredibly important to a relationship where brand and consumer feel aligned.
- Brands Better Be Responsible – With the societal and cultural events of the past few years bringing a number of causes into the spotlight, it is not enough for brands to remain silent on important societal issues. Consumers are expecting brands to take a stance. In fact, just 27% of consumers don’t want brands taking a stance on social matters. Responsibility also does not stop with social issues. Seventy-three percent of consumers find brands promoting equality very important, 72% felt that way about supporting local communities, and 71% agreed about protecting the environment. (www.merkleinc.com)