As consumers continue to adjust to the impacts of COVID, new research from data-driven CX management firm Merkle explores how the pandemic and other social, economic, and political events have catalyzed several fundamental pivots when it comes to how consumers interact with brands—uncovering several key themes, including shifts in consumers’ online engagement, the desire for personalized experiences, and brands’ abilities to engage on an emotional level.
The firm’s newly released Consumer Experience Sentiment Report found that consumers are increasingly becoming more comfortable with sharing their data in exchange for personalized experiences. In fact, the percentage of respondents who are uncomfortable sharing personal information, regardless of the benefits, decreased from 2020 and is currently at 23 percent of respondents. And even further, the feeling that personalization makes it easier to find products of interest rose to 49 percent. However, in the privacy-centric environment of today, brands must execute these personalized experiences in a data-safe way. Brands that are able to do this are being rewarded with customer loyalty.
“Today’s consumer is more discerning than ever before and demands the highest-quality experiences from the brands they choose to interact with,” said Jennifer Wolf, director of experience strategy at Merkle, in a news release. “This year’s report showcases that world events are continuing to have a significant impact on consumer preference, and brands can’t afford to fall behind on these changes. As we begin to approach a post-pandemic world, brands that are able to personalize experiences, while still striking the balance of respecting consumer wants and needs, will be the ones who succeed.”
Additional insights from survey respondents include:
- Brand reputation, personalization, and brand loyalty have all increased in importance from 2020 to 2021.
- 88 percent of consumers view a brand’s products as having higher quality if they feel like the brand is listening to their needs.
- 91 percent of consumers are slightly or significantly likely to make a repeat purchase if they feel a brand has listened.
- 48 percent of people increased the amount they spent shopping online this year compared to this time last year.
The report will continue to track key experience indicators on an annual basis in order to help marketers understand consumer preferences and identify how sentiment and expectations are changing as the market evolves.
The researchers looked to better understand how preferences were changing by surveying more than 1,300 US consumers in March 2021.