Win the trip

Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019

Understand the customer journey

These days, information overload is the norm. Consumers are bombarded with advertisements, social media posts, billboards, direct mail, emails and phone calls. If you’re a consumer-facing company, how do you make yourself heard above the clamour and, more importantly, persuade people to choose you?

You might beat the competition on price, selection, ease of navigation or exclusivity. You might offer expert advice and technical services where others would simply sell merchandise. But in all of these ways and others, you’ll have to offer a better experience. And to do this, you’ll first have to understand the purchase journey in detail so you can determine where you have the opportunity to win with consumers.

Look for the best opportunities. For example, a hotel’s best chance to win is probably not at the beginning of the journey, when people are probably going to visit more than one travel site. More likely, it will occur during the booking process or check-in. If you can deliver an experience that elicits a positive emotional response from the consumer — perhaps by enabling people to choose their room or by greeting guests with a glass of wine rather than a form to fill out — you’ll win the moment and possibly encourage a return visit. This could be one of the reasons that, according to PwC’s 2019 Global Consumer Insights Survey, 37% of consumers surveyed said that when travelling they are most likely to choose value accommodations which despite relatively low per-night rates, often invest in those sorts of simple but special offerings, compared with only 12% choosing sharing-economy services. The key in winning moments is to make customers want to repeat the experience.  


Blend digital and physical experiences

Shopping behaviour in the physical world is undergoing a sea change. According to PwC’s survey, nearly one-quarter (24%) of consumers surveyed now shop for groceries once a day or even more frequently. In some parts of the world, including the Middle East and Russia, the percentage of shoppers making ‘microtrips’ — defined as trips of five minutes or less — is even higher, exceeding or approaching 40%. Busy people are ducking into the local market for a quart of milk, a container of yogurt or something simple for dinner, skipping past shop associates and making mobile payments to get out of the store as quickly as possible.

As we noted in last year’s survey, consumers still value physical locations for the sensory and social experience they offer. There are other reasons, too, that a purely digital approach isn’t always enough. Insurance company MetLife still depends on a human sales force, says Françoise Lamotte, head of MetLife’s direct-to-consumer and digital innovation for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. “For fairly complicated financial services, you really need a hybrid model. You still need the human interaction with the customer to explain the product, understand the need and provide the right solution,” Lamotte said in a January 2019 interview with PwC.

A blend of digital and physical approaches is working for other companies, too. In addition to brick-and-mortar stores and partnerships with other retailers, Adidas depends on online platforms to promote its products. “We are also improving consumer experience. We launch new products every week, and the most effective way of launching products is through digital media,” CEO Kasper Rørsted said in an August 2018 interview with strategy+business magazine.

Go digital for payments and data

As consumer comfort with mobile payment increases, the digital platform is even more important. According to PwC’s survey, more than one in three consumers are using this technology. Adoption is particularly high in Asia, where survey respondents from China, Thailand and Vietnam had the highest rate of mobile payment usage. “In China, there is a dematerialisation of money, which makes it easier to buy, transfer or do business outside of a traditional boundary,” said Claude Sarrailh, CEO of German wholesale company Metro Cash & Carry’s China division, in a January 2019 interview with PwC.

Digital can also be used to help map hundreds of different journeys, identify the opportunities to win, and tell you how well consumers are responding to the experience you’re offering. Tracking like this will help you identify where experience improvements will have the greatest returns

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Oz Ozturk

Oz Ozturk

Global Advisory Consumer Markets Leader, Partner, PwC United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)7703 563 054

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