Consumers have changed: understanding the digitally enabled consumer

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Consumers in the market today are varied and multifaceted. As we look across the generations, we can see that each demographic has unique expectations and engagement preferences that build their consumer profile and behaviour.

However, in recent years, a non-stop barrage of external life forces – from the economic to the social, political and beyond – have impacted people’s everyday decisions in unavoidable ways, seismically influencing consumer trends and accelerating the digital transformation of the customer experience on a pathway from which there’s no turning back.

The COVID-19 pandemic was one such example of this. Following a consumer research study across 22 countries and 25,000 respondents, Accenture found that half of all respondents have changed significantly from where they were, with an additional 33% of respondents actively evolving towards this new way of thinking and being.

These consumers have so quickly evolved their values and sense of purpose that they have effectively revolutionised the world of consumerism. Accenture calls them the Reimagined – consumers who are so firmly rooted in their expectations that they will leave brands that don’t recognise their new priorities – and they will pay more for those that do.

More importantly, their studies have found that these expectations, or consumer values, presented the same across all demographics: whether that is age, gender, location etc., with consumers seeking frictionless experiences in a world of disruptions.

As PwC discovered in their Global Consumer Insights Pulse Survey (February 2023):

“Consumers’ behaviours, technological preferences and expectations continue to evolve. How can companies meet them where they want to be?”

 In short? The global consumer has changed for good.

Reviewing a multitude of data points across various independent studies, we’ve identified 6 key characteristics that are common to the transformed consumer, which will help estate agencies to attract, engage, and retain this encompassing consumer type. We call it the digitally enabled consumer.

Tech Savvy

As digital trends accelerated during COVID-19, the consumer market transformed into an online platform where customers of all ages are both familiar and increasingly adept at using technology to engage with brands. In fact, 49% of Accenture’s Reimagined group said they would switch to providers that offered an enhanced buying experience through digital channels, such as virtual viewings and try-out tools. It’s all about using tech to provide the richest, smoothest and easiest buying experience.

Experience Driven

Consumers increasingly want brands to make their shopping experience as personal and memorable as possible. They’re asking, “do you remember me, do you care about me, do you value me?” and the best buying experiences answer these questions with a resounding yes.

Now, more than ever before, the expectation of a personal customer experience factors into the decision making of buyers across all generations. According to PwC, 73% of all people point to customer experience as an important factor in their purchasing decisions, whilst research from Epsilon found that 80% of consumers are now more likely to do business with a company that offers personalised experiences. In addition, Oracle research found that 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a better customer experience. Clearly expectations for an outstanding customer experience have never been higher, so to acquire customers, brands will need to rise to a whole new level of experience delivery.

Credibility Focused

Credibility is to be reliable, believable, and plausible, and it’s without a doubt a critical ‘must have’ for brands. In the digital age, consumers are more than ever relying on the recommendations from friends and family, as well as independent reviews, to decide on a brand or product – but this became even more important during lockdowns, when buyers did not always have the ability to get a physical sense of the service or the product and had to rely on other measures to decide if a brand is in fact credible.

According to Invesp, 90% of consumers use online reviews before visiting a business and 86% of consumers will hesitate to purchase from a business that has negative online reviews. Consumers also hold personal recommendations in high regard, with 88% of consumers in Invesp’s research trusting them just as much as online reviews.

Transparency Seeking

Transparency produces trust, and trust is a critical accelerator in the consumer journey. According to an Edelman survey, 81% of consumers need to be able to trust a brand in order to buy from them. Accenture’s research found that consumers considered “strong ethical values” as either the most or second most powerful driver of loyalty when dealing with insurance or travel companies, pointing to the importance of trust in high value and/or high-risk purchasing decisions.

In an age where there is a myriad of options that all look and sound the same, transparency may well become one of the greatest differentiators during the decision process – even more so when buying, selling or renting a home. Brands that show up as transparent in their processes and motivations can look forward to increased customer engagement and retention from the very first step of the customer journey.

Availability Demanding

Time is a valuable and finite resource, whether you are buying or selling. With time becoming much more fluid throughout the pandemic, consumers have engaged with brands all hours of the day and that demand for ‘everywhere commerce’ has now become a fixed requirement – according to SuperOffice, companies’ average response time is 12 hours, with a recent survey finding that 46% of customers expect companies to respond faster than 4 hours. Whether it’s through online portals to process requests or automated messaging services that give an immediate response, consumers want brands to make time for them.

Community Valuing

Community has become more important than ever, and businesses are increasingly agreeing, with a report from marketing platform AspireIQ finding that 92.26% of brands consider community to have a positive impact. A sense of connection and inclusivity are both highly valued, with consumers supporting each other more, shopping locally, and increasingly expecting sustainability. This also extends to the businesses that consumers engage with, with research from Sprout Social finding that 64% of consumers want brands to connect with them, whilst 72% of consumers want the brands they support to be positive contributors to society.

Find out more in the Digital Enabled Consumer Report

Reapit latest report – The Digitally Enabled Consumer – explores the state of consumer behaviour today, looking in detail at how customer expectations and engagement preferences have evolved over the past few years, what each generation values, and how they might approach a property purchase.

In addition, it offers strategies for agencies on how to attract, engage and retain customers in this new housing market era, so that property industry professionals are ready for the digitally enabled consumer.

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