Global study shows how Corona influences purchasing and consumption behavior

Goodwill and real-time communication: These are the most important qualities consumers currently expect from brands. That's according to the Selligent Global Connected Consumer Index, a study of 5,000 consumers published for the third year in a row. The report reveals how the pandemic is affecting buying and consumption behavior and what really matters to consumers.

Selligent Global

Selligent Marketing Cloud, a B2C marketing automation platform, released its third annual Selligent Global Connected Consumer Index on Tuesday. The international MarTech provider surveyed 5,000 consumers worldwide about how the pandemic is affecting their consumer behavior and how their expectations of brands have changed. What is important to consumers today? What do they expect from brands in the future? How can marketers better meet those expectations? The study not only offers deep insights into the personal values of the respondents, but also shows what impact the economic and social consequences of COVID-19 have on purchasing and consumption behavior.


Less work, more focus on the essentials

Short-time work, layoffs, wage cuts - these have affected 75 percent of consumers. As a result, a majority (60 percent) have changed their shopping habits to focus on essentials such as food and hygiene products. In addition, consumers now shop online more frequently (36 percent do so weekly) - before COVID-19, 28 percent did so. After the initial shock, lockdown and self-isolation, many respondents seem to have adjusted to the "new normal." Most expect to stay home even longer. In fact, 58 percent of consumers firmly anticipate a home office future, and 56 percent said they will soon be making new purchases to make remote work still possible.


Understanding, patience and closeness: The new values

The past few months have not been easy for anyone: consumers are aware of this. 38 percent agree that brands have made significant efforts to improve the overall customer experience over the past year, and they understand the impact of the pandemic on customer service response times: 93 percent expect a response within 24 hours - a decrease of 3 percent from 2019. And customers would like to feel that same understanding from brands: 81 percent appreciate goodwill when it comes to returns or cancellations. And respondents' fears and anxieties should be addressed by brands: 76 percent want clearly communicated security protocols and 64 percent want mobile and contactless pickup or check-in options.


Communication: digital, real-time and relevant please

When everything is out of control, omnichannel communication becomes more important than ever: 76 percent of study participants expect real-time updates from brands via app or cell phone (59 percent) or email (33 percent) to inform them of delays or changes regarding a purchase. 71 percent want the ability to see product availability before ordering online or going to the store. Reliance on telephone customer service as a first point of contact has dropped ten percent this year to 33 percent, underscoring the importance of customer service that is available through all channels - including email, chat, social media and SMS.

When brands interact, the interests and needs of customers should be paramount. Although customers appreciated empathy at the beginning of the pandemic, they have grown tired of all the empathetic messaging. Consumers want action, not words. Two in five respondents said they have unsubscribed from at least three email lists in the past six months, with 55 percent citing "too many emails" as the reason. Fifty-four percent reported that sales and special offers are the most valuable content to receive - especially in light of consumers being more cost-conscious and value-oriented. This also has a critical impact on loyalty: although customer experience is still key to brand loyalty, price (24 percent) and product and service quality (26 percent) influence shoppers ahead of brand name (8 percent). 51 percent believe free products and perks are the best ways for brands to show compassion.

An exciting development can be seen in the data protection question: In view of the shift to online shopping, seamless experiences are becoming increasingly important. While the majority of consumers (64 percent) still believe that data protection is more important than online experience, this figure fell by ten percent compared to the 2019 study.

"Knowing how drastically the pandemic has changed consumers, marketers will be able to better predict and address the unique needs of their customers," said Karthik Kripapuri, CEO of Selligent Marketing Cloud. "With an ear for the customer, a nose for opportunities to meet their customer needs, and programs that reward buyers for their loyalty, businesses will be able to not only survive, but thrive in these challenging times."

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