The digital habit that birthed during the pandemic must be sustained with contextual cues and hybrid offerings for the future of customer expectations.
Consumer behaviours change fast. As the pandemic is nearing the end, consumers are slowly shifting from pure online to hybrid experiences, expecting the best of both worlds.
With such expectations, marketers need to keep up with and perhaps even influence customers’ behaviour. Brands that focus on channelling behavioural change that aligns with their business goals rather than customers’ beliefs and desires face a challenge. Nevertheless, for brands, it’s time to reinforce positive new beliefs and shape emerging customer behaviour with better experiences.
According to behavioural science, customer beliefs influence behaviour. While the pandemic forced them to an alternate shopping pathway, delighted them with new experiences, the fundamental consumer behaviour is deep-rooted. Keeping some of the new shopping traits, consumers are now shifting towards the old ways of in-store shopping and live events.
During pandemic-led lockdowns, consumers of all age groups adopted a millennial mindset regarding digital experiences. From speed and convenience to ease of transactions, digitisation is paramount, and brands can increase their valuation and customer loyalty by implementing innovative digital strategies. Delivery drones are suitable in the mix, but integrating data analytics, Artificial intelligence (AI), and IoT devices can do the trick.
Also Read: Quicktake: Contextual Advertising
Central to shaping behavioural change
The future of customer expectations comes down to analysing consumer behaviour at the granular level. The digital habit that birthed during the pandemic must be sustained with contextual cues and hybrid offerings.
An effective method to shape a new behavioural shopping trait is to analyse customer moments of truths — the first-time experience moments in a consumer’s buying journey that have a special impact on them. For instance, plant-based meat manufacturer Beyond Meat drove their customer acquisition by creating positive first-time experiences for customers. In collaboration with restaurants, it delivered free Beyond burgers to hospitals and community centres.
Some experts believe peak moments have evolved in the last year. Today, an exciting new product on the shelf or on-time delivery might excite consumers more than a VR-led campaign or product unboxing experiences.
Transparency and privacy are two important elements that brands must nurture in their customer-centric strategy. To increase customer trust and loyalty, they could add a set of guidelines or an ethical data framework in the customer data cycle. Only limited brands today showcase a high level of transparency and openness.
Experts recommend marketers to refrain from highlighting the troubled days of the past. Customers do not want to be reminded about it. Rather than a negative approach, “human connection” and “joy of life” themed marketing strategies can emotionally uplift them.
Brick-and-mortar stores are creating a buzz again, but not without integrated digital experiences. Hybrid stores are the key to business growth as consumers want the best of both worlds. Highlighting the integration in marketing strategies can increase customer acquisition and show them the innovative possibilities of the future offline stores.
Meanwhile, it is important for brands to analyse the different customer groups that have emerged in the last few years. Shaping each of the customer categories requires different marketing strategies.
The “customise for me” customer
These customers will purse their lips at a one-size-fits-all product. However, with the rapid advancements in technology, this group demands the customisable option. Although brands offer personalisation with data analytic insights, it might not be enough to satiate customers.
Strategy: Innovations in hyper-personalisation to create differentiated products can cater to the needs of such customers. The solutions will have to be simple, include hybrid features or a multipurpose offering across channels.
The “all about experience” customer
We are at the heart of the experience economy, and it’s not surprising that a large group of consumers want brands to provide the best possible experience in terms of customer service or product offerings.
Strategy: Marketers can attain a 360-degree view of such customers, have customer-focused measures, including regional language communication, faster delivery and service, and install self-service capabilities.
The “butler service” customer
As people get more comfortable in the digital economy, customer behaviour is heavily inclined towards accessibility. They want to be able to access services or check out products anywhere and anytime. They prefer the eCommerce setup that allows them the luxury of time.
Strategy: It is critical to expand service channels with advanced chatbots, automation, and possible virtual assistants across channels including Instagram and Whatsapp. A unified, asynchronous messaging system can shape customer behaviour to rely on technology and trust the brand that offers such power.
The “I’m watching everything” consumer
A McKinsey report revealed that many consumers pay close attention to how brands support their employees and the community during these challenging times. Brands need to demonstrate care and concern not only for their customers but the global community. For instance, haircare brand Olaplex started an affiliate program where a portion of the revenue from product sales was given to customers’ local hairstylists. It’s a fine line between actually caring for the community and demonstrating a commercialised social cause, and consumers see right through it.
Strategy: Aligning social cause marketing with customer contextual cues is vital. Digital data-gathering and monitoring techniques, including mobile diaries, social-media listening tools and AI-driven message boards, are some of the essential tools that can help brands understand contextual cues. Validating those actionable insights through in-market testing will be beneficial.
The pandemic has changed customer’s adaptability and expectations. They want technology-led experience but stitched together in simple processes. Brands need to pump the brakes on customer behaviour predictions and focus on digital adoption, personalised purchasing, and agility to shape customer behaviour.
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