Build communities with a purpose

Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019

The opinions of peers are paramount

People are inundated with choices, and PwC’s research shows that they’re turning to their peers for counsel. Thirty-two percent of respondents in the 2019 Global Consumer Insights Survey reported that positive reviews on social media influence their purchases, which is consistent with last year’s survey.

Interestingly, only 17% of respondents were more likely to be persuaded by an influencer or celebrity to buy a product or service, which demonstrates that consumers care more about the opinions of those closest to them. The experiences of loved ones are particularly influential in the hospitality industry. Nearly half of respondents in PwC’s survey indicated that family and friends affect their choice of vacation travel provider.


Organisations should cultivate socially active communities

Some companies are taking notice of the potential for using social channels to build communities and eventually translate those relationships into sales. Claude Sarrailh, CEO of the China division of German-based retail giant Metro Cash & Carry, says the company uses WeChat, a Chinese online messaging platform, to connect directly with customers. “If I sell something [there], I know it is a certain customer who has bought it, so tomorrow I can send him a related offer. And with WeChat, you have access to 600 million people pretty quickly,” Sarrailh said in a January 2019 interview with PwC.

Peloton, a global fitness technology company that offers tech-laden stationary spin bikes, workout videos and virtual group rides, is fostering a vibrant group of participants who offer mutual support through digital tools. In a November 2018 interview with strategy+business magazine, CEO John Foley said that instructor Jenn Sherman, one of the company’s first instructors, grew in popularity by interacting with customers online. As the business scaled, she wasn’t able to keep up with 20 million people by herself. But now, Foley said to s+b, “Users can acknowledge one another when they hit certain milestones, such as riding 20 days in a row,” augmenting the instructors’ engagement with riders so the community becomes self-sustaining.

Social opportunities might be more apparent with certain sectors or in particular regions. For instance, according to PwC’s consumer survey, people in Asian territories are more socially engaged online than their counterparts in Europe and the Americas. Respondents in Thailand, Indonesia and Vietnam led the pack in making purchases directly through “shoppable” photos or posts, with 50%, 49% and 48% of survey respondents, respectively, saying they do this. And among product and service categories, social media is most likely to affect purchasing decisions related to fashion.


Consumers and employees seek companies with a higher purpose

Many people want to engage with businesses that align themselves with social values, such as sustainability and local production. According to PwC’s survey, 29% of respondents said they buy brands that promote sustainable practices. Millennials, in particular, are consciously making purchases around sustainable and environmentally packaged brands and products.

Consumers aren’t the only ones supporting businesses that espouse a higher purpose. Employees, who can act as a business’ greatest advocates and ambassadors, also want to affiliate themselves with employers that share their values. To answer this desire in the job market, companies should make their corporate vision crisp and clear.

One global consumer products company, with a portfolio of almost 20 different brands, has the challenge of ensuring its vision is relevant to employees across borders and product lines. “In every consumer or company engagement, we talk about our sustainability pillar and the work we’re doing as a company,” said the company’s e-commerce director in a January 2019 interview with PwC. “Our overall company vision is making the world a better place to smile in. It’s anchored in our brand, but it’s broader to the company.”


Contact us

John G. Maxwell

Global Consumer Markets Leader, Partner, PwC United States

Tel: +1 (646) 471 3728

Oz Ozturk

Global Advisory Consumer Markets Leader, Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7703 563 054

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