One of the largest internet providers saw a 60% increase in internet usage in some areas of the US in the month of March. With so many more people at home working, studying, and finding entertainment across devices, the way consumers are behaving and interacting with brands is changing.
Here are 3 key areas where consumer behavior is shifting, and how you can modify your strategy to accommodate.
1. Lines are blurring between work and personal time
According to the Brookings Institute, as of April, up to half of American workers were working from home. And it shows no signs of slowing once social distancing restrictions start to lift: Almost 3 in 4 CFOs in a Gartner survey said they plan to shift at least a fifth of their team to telecommuting permanently for cost-cutting measures. Similarly, we have already seen the likes of big companies such as Twitter make working from home a consistent option for their employees going forward.
Although telecommuting is on the rise and people are spending more time at home, it’s important to remember they are likely also balancing family obligations with work and multitasking in between.
When assessing your CX strategy, it’s vital to account for and adapt to this newly blended environment to deliver a seamless customer experience across all touchpoints. According to Deloitte, there are about 11 connective devices per household. Gaining a universal view of the customer is critical to connect with them in the right mindset at the right moments.
Contextual solutions offer marketers the opportunity to engage with their audience in brand-suitable and relevant environments that complement their lives, not disrupt them. That way, they can reach the people they care about at scale across digital and video content.
2. Consumer spending centers on essentials
A March survey from Statista highlighted that category spending in the US has notably shifted, with increased purchases on necessities like groceries, non-food child products, and household supplies. The results also showed that consumers are allocating fewer funds to other categories due to the current climate, like out-of-home entertainment, fashion, and personal care services.
These spending shifts aren’t surprising, and they reflect cautious consumer sentiment about economic recovery after COVID-19. During this time, it’s critical for brands to stay connected with their customers and show they care. For instance, some companies are offering the following:
- Longer return policies
- Enacting moratoriums on late fees
- Discounted rates
- Matching donations to non-profit organizations
- Additional pay-over-time options
- Free or pay-what-you can access to services
- Extended hours to address customer needs
These are just a few customer-centric benefits that not only build brand equity, but also reinforce brand loyalty.
3. Digital is dominating and will continue to fuel CX
In line with their spending habits, consumers are spending more time on home-based or low-contact activities. This includes a rise in video conferencing services, curbside pickup for groceries and takeout, and telemedicine. When asked in a McKinsey survey if they plan to continue using these services after restrictions are lifted, consumers expressed a high intent to keep these new habits.
With less traffic in brick and mortar stores brings a spike in ecommerce. A survey from Civis found that consumers are spending up to 30% more online, likely for products they previously bought in stores.
The bottom line: Leading brands stay on top of the latest technologies and innovations to fortify and optimize their strategy in an increasingly digital world. CX has never been “one-size-fits-all,” and maintaining a dynamic, fluid relationship with your customers both offline and online will go a long way. After all, up to 68% of consumers recognize that personalized experiences are important.
To achieve this level of trust and admiration from your customers, start with gaining a deep understanding of who they are. Conduct a poll or survey to learn more about them (beyond basic demographic information) and learn about their preferences and what motivates them. Based on their responses, segment them into similar groups. From there, you can use your insights to tailor each segment’s experience with personalized content and brand storytelling at every step in their journey across channels.
Adaptability is key to success
Susan Athey, an economics of technology professor at Stanford, told the Washington Post, “People will change their habits, and some of these habits will stick. There’s a lot of things where people are just slowly shifting, and this [pandemic] will accelerate that.”
With these wise words in mind, the most successful brands will be agile and quickly accommodate to this rapidly changing landscape.