Consumers expect better experiences when economic conditions deteriorate

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Readers of my articles will know by now that I like a good dose of research.

This is for two reasons:

  • First, I love discovering new insights into customer behavior and what it takes to deliver great service and a standout customer experience (CX), and
  • Second, because new insights can often be a good starting point for additional analysis.

So I was happy to hear that Adobe recently did some research of their own, and they just released it on their Adobe EMEA summitwhich is currently taking place in London over the next two days.

The research is based on two surveys that surveyed the opinions of more than 4,000 marketing and customer experience professionals and more than 13,000 consumers in 14 countries from February to May this year. The aim of the research was to identify a roadmap for brands’ profitable growth amid ongoing economic uncertainty.

This uncertainty has been brought into sharp focus in the past week news showed that Germany, the largest economy in the European region, has just entered a recession. Sources indicate that high prices for food, clothing and furniture are depressing consumer demand, but also that higher energy prices are also negatively impacting industrial demand.

As a result, the timing and focus of the study could not be more timely.

These are the main points of the research:

  • Half of consumers surveyed (50%) said they expect even better experiences from brands as economic conditions become more challenging. This compares to just 14% who said their expectations tend to drop when economic conditions worsen.
  • Digging deeper into the survey, Gen Z and Millennial consumers are even more expectant, with 65% reporting that during tough economic times, their customer experience expectations are higher.
  • However, that does not mean that consumers just want lower prices. When asked what is the best formula to maintain their loyalty in these difficult times, here is the ranking they have prepared:
  • 1. “A Balanced Approach” – Balancing Profitability, Customer Experience and Corporate Social Responsibility Needs.
  • 2. “Focus on customer experience” – deprioritize all other factors to make their experiences great, and
  • 3. “Offer the absolute lowest price” – deprioritize everything else to make sure they get the lowest price.
  • When asked their opinion on using artificial intelligence to deliver a better customer experience, 34% of consumers stated that brands should prioritize areas such as having guardrails and protecting creators’ intellectual property, and 32% of consumers said they believe brands should. prioritizing the use of generative AI to improve the customer experience.
  • In terms of building trust, consumers rated keeping customer data secure and using it in line with their expectations as the most important way brands can build and maintain trust.
  • However, they also want to do business with brands that operate sustainably, with 82% of all consumers saying they spend less on brands they don’t think care about the environment.
  • And finally, weighing on the employee experience, 85% of consumers say they will reduce their spending on brands, with 29% even saying they will refuse to spend on brands that don’t invest to improve their workplaces, products and services. services accessible to as many people as possible.

I don’t know about you, but I think there are some fascinating results and insights in there.

Prior to the release of the survey and leading up to the Adobe EMEA Summit, I had the opportunity to speak with Luc Dammann, EMEA President at Adobe. Commenting on the research, he told me, “Competition for wallet share has intensified as digital-first spending patterns, economic conditions and new ethical priorities shift customer expectations.” He continued, “Companies today need to do more with less, differentiate themselves by delivering more intuitive and relevant customer experiences that add value, build trust and loyalty, and drive profitable growth. These are the keys to experience-led growth.”

To me, the consumer message is emphatic… focus on delivering a standout and personalized experience has never been more important, even as economic conditions remain tight for many. But if you’re going to do it anyway, do it in a responsible and sustainable way.

However, that requires vision, investment and commitment.

Adobe’s own experience working with brands that invest despite economic uncertainty experiential growth and to deliver personalization at scale show that those who do achieve a 242% Return On Investment (ROI) on their CX investments and grow an average of 36% faster than their peers.

If you are a brand and want to lead and grow.

Then you know what to do.