Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019
Businesses that address roadblocks in the customer journey and close the gap between expectations and product or service delivery will not only build consumer loyalty but can also command a price premium.
For example, PwC’s 2019 Global Consumer Insights Survey shows that Amazon Prime membership has risen each year since 2017. And almost half (46%) of respondents who use the site said the Amazon experience has caused them to shop either exclusively or more frequently with the retailer. Clearly, consumers value the Amazon shopping experience and are more and more willing each year to plunk down an annual fee for Prime because of the added value that membership provides.
PwC’s GCIS survey also shows that shoppers who are willing to pay premium prices want better services, such as personal shoppers or stylists, and added conveniences, such as mobile payments and cutting-edge technology. They’ll also pay more for certain product attributes, such as sustainable brands and organic foods.
Companies can delight people by delivering ‘magic moments’ in their shopping experiences when what they want or need is available at just the time they want or need it. Not surprisingly, doing this can result in increased sales for the business and cement a bond between grateful consumers and retailers that have anticipated their needs. Case in point: according to survey respondents, the top three attributes that would significantly improve their in-store experience were the ability to conveniently navigate the store, sales associates with a deep knowledge of the product range, and quick and easy payment methods.
Imagine that you can order your groceries online to be picked up in the store, and that when you go to pick up your order, a store associate mentions that at this same time last year, you bought a birthday cake. The store employee asks, “Would you like to add a cake to your order?” That’s a magic moment.
Making shopping simple for the consumer makes business more complex for the retailer, however. The store manager has to know the store’s inventory down to the last SKU, trust that the supply chain will deliver high-demand goods in the right quantities at the right time, and have the people, systems and processes in place to assemble the order almost as soon as it’s received. The store also has to equip its people with the right tools to know the consumer’s shopping history. It has to provide a safe and easily accessible pickup location. And crucially, the grocer has to educate the consumer about how the system works.
Some business leaders, conditioned to focus obsessively on keeping operating expenses in check, might look at that list of requirements and shudder. But rather than classify the outlays as expenses, why not think of them as investments? Directing dollars into a better consumer experience will yield customer retention, enthusiastic word of mouth and larger shopping carts. The trick is to understand the path to purchase and what factors on the journey are meaningful so resources are allocated appropriately.
The power of paid advertising is waning. Although 35% of consumers in our survey said traditional TV ads are still most influential in their decisions, 26% said they are most influenced by ads that link them directly to offers and promotions for their favourite brand or product, and 25% favour social media ads that allow them to interact.
What this demonstrates is that although paid advertising can be a trigger for action, companies should focus on creating experiences that foster a meaningful relationship with consumers. The director of e-commerce at one consumer products company put it bluntly in a January 2019 interview with PwC. “I think most companies understand that the world of connectivity and engagement has gone beyond television,” he said. “If you haven’t shifted a fair portion of your spend into digital engagement, then I think you’re probably missing the boat.”
Companies that build a relationship with consumers can communicate with them on an ongoing basis rather than having to re-establish that connection over and over again as they would with advertising. Canon USA, for example, has redirected its print and TV media advertising budget to events that deliver authentic engagement with potential customers. It partners with the National Audubon Society’s annual hawk festival and has established an image library where participants can upload and share their pictures of the hawk migration. “Once we’ve identified all of these pockets of people who are interested in birds, for example, we gear our [marketing] to what we’re doing tactically,” said Matt Gorman, Canon’s director of sales development, e-commerce and strategy, in a January 2019 interview with PwC.
The importance of personalisation is also reflected in how some companies are offering a seamless experience, even if it means aligning themselves with nontraditional partners. Best Buy, an electronics and appliance retailer, has recently partnered with a health solutions company to deliver smart home devices and a monthly monitoring service for seniors. This, in addition to the free in-home design and consultation service it already extends to its customers, augments the company’s full-service customer delivery model.
Nowadays, people are consuming in many different ways — including with apps and digital services and in social communities and physical stores — not only in retail but across industries. Almost 75% of global respondents to the PwC survey have as many as three healthcare, wellness or fitness apps on their smart device; 54% are “cutting the cord” by watching movies or TV programming two times a week or more through streaming services; and more than 80% have undertaken at least one or more financial activity via a digital channel in the past year.
But even as online consumption grows, human interaction remains important and shouldn’t be neglected as a channel for connecting with customers. Françoise Lamotte, head of direct-to-consumer and digital innovation for MetLife in Europe, the Middle East and Asia, believes that existing customers are comfortable going online or onto their mobile apps for certain things, but that potential customers still need human beings to educate them about products and make a sales pitch that will resonate.
The auto industry is also investigating other channels to extend its reach. In a 2018 Strategy& report, 47% of European consumers and 79% of Chinese consumers said they would consider giving up their own cars once competitively priced robo-taxis are available. To adapt, some auto dealers are partnering with ride-share companies to offer their drivers special financing deals and a new fleet of cars specifically for on-demand mobility.