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Consumer-facing companies focus on digital foundation as election recedes

In the wake of the 2020 presidential election, PwC surveyed business leaders from a variety of sectors, part of our ongoing PwC US Pulse Survey conducted on a periodic basis to track the changing sentiment and priorities of business executives. This is what leaders from consumer-facing companies told us.

Leaders at consumer-facing companies are planning to double down on digital strategy in the year ahead, as they’ve done since the beginning of the pandemic: They are more likely than executives in all other sectors (47% vs 38%) to commit to a “large increase” in digital investment in 2021.

Aware that end-to-end digital transformation is essential in a pandemic-altered world, consumer markets (CM) leaders are taking the necessary steps. As shoppers combine the most convenient online and in-store options, retailers are consolidating physical and digital operations for seamless customer service.

Consumer packaged goods companies are finding new ways to engage customers directly with a combination of personalized offerings and accurate demand forecasting. And travel, transportation and hospitality companies are deploying analytics to unveil new self-serve options and shore up for the long term.

As with other sectors, 86% of CM leaders would like to see federal economic relief in the coming months, without which they are more likely than other sectors to offer hazard pay for on-site workers (63% vs 48%). CM leaders are understandably concerned about a new wave of COVID-19 infections triggering further shutdowns. And they’re also more concerned than all sectors about the effect of the current business environment on their workforce (39% vs 31%).

In a divided post-election landscape, 51% of CM leaders will create new opportunities for conversations about social issues while 57% will increase diversity and inclusion training. Despite a majority view (69%) that policy and regulatory shifts will be the most pressing post-election business risk, CM leaders are nevertheless looking ahead to growth in 2021, more so than other sectors.

In addition to digital transformation, which 77% cited, they are also directing resources toward the workforce (65% vs 58% of executives in all sectors), domestic expansion (65% vs 59%), supply chains (63% vs 54%) and M&A (60% vs 53%). In the year ahead, they will lay the foundation for long-term success: reconfiguring business models, reinventing the customer purchase journey and rethinking strategies to engage consumers.

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