Over 75% of consumers tried new online experiences during the pandemic, such as ordering groceries, taking a virtual fitness class, or getting medical care – and that trend will continue, even as economies reopen post-pandemic, consumers will increasingly expect great experiences across whichever channel they choose – online, digital, or hybrid.
New research released from Qualtrics reveals how consumer behavior and expectations will change post-pandemic, and why companies need to focus on designing new experiences that meet the needs of consumers today and in the future. The new study “2021 Global Consumer Trends” examined the perspectives of more than 17,000 global consumers across 18 countries. The study highlights how companies will need to rewrite their playbooks to deliver great online, in-person, and hybrid experiences to attract and retain loyal consumers. “Our research shows that consumers are not going back to the way things were,” said Bruce Temkin, Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. “Consumers have adapted to a new, digital-first landscape, and the experiences that they have with brands across digital channels directly impact their purchasing decisions. In order to be successful, organizations need to prepare for the future instead of trying to recreate the past.”
Global research highlights:
- Consumers went digital, and most of them are not going back.
The pandemic forced consumers to go digital almost overnight. More than 75% of consumers switched to online channels to run errands and stay connected. For example, 24% of consumers caught up with family and friends over online video for the first time, 21% of consumers started ordering groceries online, and 18% took their first online course.
According to the study, activities where consumers find a sense of belonging and community, such as attending religious services, are more likely to revert back to in-person.
Consumers in Hong Kong, India, and Thailand are most likely to accelerate their day-to-day use of technology, whereas consumers in Germany and Spain are least likely to continue adopting digital.
- Customer service and corporate social responsibility are differentiators.
Consumers are more discerning than ever about their purchasing choices, and organizations need to do more than market the quality or price of their products and services: 23% of consumers would prefer to buy from an organization that treats them well, and 16% would make a purchase based on corporate social responsibility.
- Consumers increasingly expect great experiences across multiple platforms.
Organizations need to invest in delivering quality customer service and meet customers where they are – whether that’s online, in-person or somewhere in between. For example, to schedule a medical appointment, 38% of consumers prefer to do so over the phone, 36% through self-service methods, 18% in person, and 8% through online chat.
- The global democratization of digital experiences will continue.
Emerging economies, such as Brazil, India, and Thailand, made the most significant shifts to online activities. For example, ordering meals online and digital personal banking will continue to accelerate globally. Emerging economies are even more likely than developed economies to continue pushing for online education.
- Consumer satisfaction is directly tied to trust and advocacy.
Positive experiences inspire greater levels of trust and advocacy among consumers. Consumers who have good experiences with organizations in critical industries — such as education systems, hospitals/medical clinics, and government agencies — are more likely to trust them. And when consumers trust an organization, they’re more likely to recommend them to friends and family, helping to attract new customers. Industries that satisfied consumers’ transactional needs, such as entertainment and food, are the most likely to be recommended based on a positive experience. Consumer expectations will continue to change as the world adjusts to a post-pandemic environment, and organizations must be prepared. They will need experience data – what consumers say they want and expect – to actively listen to their customers and design the experiences that attract and retain them.