After over two years of living through a global pandemic, both consumers and brands are looking to reconnect on a deeper level. For consumers, this means having their expectations for a personalized online experience met, no longer characterized by a great product or service. For brands, this means putting their audience first by adopting a consumer-centric approach and prioritizing personalization in their marketing efforts.
Building meaningful relationships with consumers is critical for long-term, repeatable business success. In fact, 57% of consumers will increase their spending with brands they feel connected to. However, constantly changing consumer expectations, particularly in the last few years, has made it difficult for brands to keep up. Consumers are spending more time online, on multiple channels, thereby making consumer journeys more complex than ever before.
Understanding the evolution of consumer behavior and effectively using data to personalize consumer experiences can help brands dominate the market. When you can leverage data to gain a holistic view of your consumer journey, that’s when you can produce actionable insights to inform your digital personalization strategy.
Why Consumer Expectations Are Rising
The primary reason for recent changes in consumer expectations has been the pandemic’s impact on consumers’ use of technology. Consumers had to embrace a digital transformation of their own in order to survive. This includes the shift to online stores as a primary shopping method, even for those who would originally prefer in-store shopping. As a result, there's been a huge shift in how consumers interact with brands today. The new normal shows that 60% of interactions with brands happens digitally, 18% more than pre-pandemic.
The digitization of everyday life did not just begin due to the pandemic. It was, however, accelerated. Before the pandemic, there was already an increased uptake of digital channels. This, combined with the pandemic-imposed digitization, contributes to consumer expectations rising rapidly.
Shifting the Focus To Data Science and Personalization
Personalization is impossible if you cannot collect, organize and analyze consumer data. With advances in technology, brands have access to more analytical tools and data than ever before. But non-technical yet data-driven teams tend to struggle to turning data into actionable insights, resulting in a fragmented view of their users and the consumer journey.
In an ultra-competitive landscape, consumers are spoiled for choices and are not afraid to switch brands when their expectations are unmet. With only 34% of consumers feeling that brands meet their expectations for personalization, companies must build consumer loyalty by investing in data science and predictive personalization capabilities.
What Brands Can Do To Meet Consumer Expectations
Consumer expectations are continuously evolving, and understanding them is key to meeting them. Here are four things your brand can do to keep up with your consumer expectations.
- Adopt a consumer-centric approach to digital consumer experiences
Providing personalized consumer experiences is key to continued business success. To ensure you do not waste resources, adopt an approach that makes your consumers integral to every touchpoint in the consumer journey. Put yourself in the users’ shoes; walk through the buyer journey, and address the potential challenges consumers may encounter. Avoid setting broad business objectives. Rather, set goals that are specific to your consumers. For example, “boost sales” is a broad business objective. Plus, it's not tied to consumers. A consumer-centric goal would be; “Personalize product and content recommendations to increase checkouts by 20%.”.
- Leverage data science
Understanding the needs of consumers on an ongoing basis is integral for personalization to be worthwhile. Simply put, brands need to put their data to work. Data science enables brands to analyze structured and unstructured data, identify behavioral trends, and gain actionable insights.
- Enable predictive personalization
Personalization is an art that involves tailoring experiences and messaging to individual consumer needs. But with consumer expectations changing quickly, “simple” personalization will not suffice. Based on consumer behavior, brands can predict consumer needs in real-time, so they can then tailor experiences and messaging accordingly. This is known as predictive personalization, and it differs from traditional personalization as it leverages data science and AI.
- Partner with the right vendor
Implementing personalization can get complex and overwhelming, especially at scale. To be successful requires the right vision and partner. But first, you must define your personalization needs and goals. The right partner will understand your business goals and help you meet them.
Personalization is the key to having a competitive edge over the competition. But it is also more than that, we believe it is a prerequisite for staying relevant. Brands that deliver personalized experiences through tailored offerings tend to build long-lasting consumer relationships. Any brand can successfully implement predictive personalization by following the above steps.