A new study has unearthed 'seismic' shifts in consumer-brand interactions with 60% modifying purchases to concentrate on essential items. The pronounced pivot has been spurred by the worsening economic picture which sees 75% of respondents report a reduced income.
What’s changed for consumers?
Led by omnichannel cloud technology company Selligent, the report found that 76% of consumers still expect real-time email or mobile updates despite the crisis.
75% of global consumers reported less work due to Covid-19 and, as a result, a majority (60%) have modified purchases to focus on essential items, like food and safety products.
Moreover, the value associated with flexibility in returns or cancellations has also spiked with 81% grateful for the ability to backtrack.
58% of those quizzed are resigned to remote working for the long term. This dramatic change in circumstance translates to 56% making new purchases they would not otherwise have made.
Moreover the proportion of people purchasing online every week has jumped from 28% to 36% in the wake of the pandemic.
Evolving consumer expectations have thus far largely been met by brands with 38% agreeing that the overall customer experience has risen in the past year.
Consumers have also become more forgiving of delayed responses given the circumstances, with the proportion expecting a reply within 24 hours dipping by 3% to 93% since 2019.
The importance attached to privacy also dropped over this period with just 64% believing it to be more important than the online experience, down from 74% in last year's study.
How can brands meet changed consumer needs?
The rapidly shifting spending landscape presents opportunities for fleet-footed brands wishing to capitalise on the new stay at home economy by engaging through new channels, providing a relevant offer and offering flexibility.
Email and mobile remain the most important channels of contact for 59 and 33% respectively but brands should be wary, with two in five unsubscribing from at least two email lists in the past six months - the majority citing 'too many emails' as the cause.
Brand marketers are encouraged to prioritise real-time communications with 70% desiring to know of product availability before the point of purchase.
A further 76% wish for clear safety protocols and a further 64% welcome mobile and contactless pick-up or check-in options.
Cash-strapped consumers are increasingly favouring freebies, sales and shipping perks over past brand loyalties (51%) with a paltry 8% expressing brand loyalty above all else.
Karthik Kripapuri, chief exec at Selligent, said: “It’s clear that listening to customers more closely, frequently looking for opportunities to deliver customer-first experiences, and developing programs that reward buyers for their loyalty and advocacy will support an organisation’s ability to, not only survive today’s challenging environment, but thrive in it.”