Knowing what consumers want is the difference between being effective and invasive. The brands that are most attuned to their shoppers are better able to allocate their resources, conserve customer acquisition cost, and churn greater year-over-year revenue. Understanding the desires of consumers has worked for companies like Starbucks, Apple, and Amazon that have sustained loyalty over the years.
Gleaning insight into the modern consumer’s mind is beneficial in dictating your strategy. It can be easier said than done, which is why so many brands are miles behind where they’d like to be. However, if you’re committed to understanding, investing, and adapting as you go, your brand will begin to stand out as a pioneer and an innovator.
What Do Consumers Want From Brands?
An Omnichannel Shopping Experience
Very few shoppers are solely “online” or “offline” consumers. The vast majority of consumers shop back and forth between websites, social media, mobile apps, and physical stores. These omnichannel shoppers spend an average of four percent more every shopping trip to a physical store, and 10% more online compared to single-channel shoppers—and, they shop 23% more often.
Your brand’s customers are looking for seamless consistency in look, feel, and messaging—no matter which channel they choose to interact with your brand. Creating an omnichannel experience fosters a sense of community.
Shoppers want multiple ways to contact brands for customer support, whether it’s through direct message or comment response via social media, IM chat on a website, email, phone, or in-store returns counter. They want rewards programs and special offers to be available on physical cards, mobile apps, and web portal logins—freeing them to shop whichever channel they desire.
Customers not only expect a frictionless omnichannel focus upfront, but they expect it in your back-end processes, as well. Advances in technology have made it easier for brands and retailers to keep items in stock, fulfill orders efficiently, and checkout orders quickly. Bridging the gap between online and offline channels alleviates bottlenecks that would otherwise jeopardize the overall user experience.
Hyper-personalization leverages artificial intelligence and real-time data to deliver more relevant content, product, and service information to each customer.
Taking this extra step in personalization is important, considering 72% of consumers say they will only engage with brands that tailor marketing messages to individual shopper needs and preferences.
Modern shoppers expect exclusive deals on the products they like or would like, quick resolution of issues, timely back-in-stock alerts, personalized recommendations, as well as the ability to find what they need faster and easier. While many of these shoppers are comfortable with sharing data, they also expect full transparency. They want to know what data is being collected about them, how it will be used, and who it will be shared with—as well as a way to opt-out of data tracking.
Brands can incorporate hyper-personalization into social, mobile, and in-store marketing—which also creates an omnichannel experience—to cater to consumers’ desires.
Four out of five consumers believe society is more divided than ever—and 78% are looking to leading brands to bridge the divide, using social media as a platform. Brand behaviors that connect with audiences include:
- liking or responding to a fan
- showcasing brand personality
- supporting a cause
- inviting user-generated content
- promoting offline events
Consumers want brands to focus on people, not just products. They look to brands to connect disparate groups of people across platforms. Why does social connection matter? Three-quarters of those surveyed said they would buy from a brand they feel connected to over a competitor. When they don’t feel a connection, 70% are less likely to shop there and 61% spend less when they do.
Existing mobile architecture makes it easy for brands to connect with busy, on-the-go, smartphone-enabled shoppers. Brands can partner with a third-party mobile shopping rewards app, like Shopkick to reach an already-loyal base of consumers. Shopkick allows consumers to begin their purchase journey by browsing engaging in-app content from several brands and retailers, whether they’re at home or on the go. For partners, this content helps build pre-shop awareness and consideration and puts products at the top of shoppers’ minds. Users can check the Shopkick app to see which brands or retailers offer “kicks,” or rewards points, which incentivize shoppers to visit a store or browse online. Eventually, Shopkick users redeem their kicks for free gift cards, which builds a positive affinity and loyalty for the brands that awarded them.
The personalized retail customer experience has overtaken product and price in terms of competitive advantage, with 86% of shoppers willing to pay more for better UX. Brands can leverage Shopkick in-store to offer consumers an engaging and interactive, rewarding experience. In-store, Shopkick utilizes an engaging gamification strategy that drives shoppers to products at-shelf and encourages physical product interaction in exchange for kicks. This allows brands to boost product awareness when it truly matters most—in-aisle, with the product in hand. By offering users an additional kick incentive for making a purchase, Shopkick closes the loop and drives sales. When consumers receive rewards via Shopkick, they attribute them to the partnering brands—also building positive affinity and loyalty.
Value for their Loyalty
Rewarding loyalty may have been a differentiating factor at one time. Now it’s par for the course, with 79% of consumers stating they will only shop with brands who show they care about shopper loyalty.
It’s a common mistake to focus on luring customers through price discounts and special offers—unless you are committed to being known for offering the lowest prices. This angle has worked for brands like Aldi, Dollar General, and Burlington. However, most businesses would rather have greater pricing freedom but still retain their fan base.
Shoppers like to walk away from a transaction feeling like they received a great deal of satisfying value. A loyalty rewards program is a simple, yet effective way to achieve this end goal, without slashing prices. With a loyalty rewards program, customers are motivated to continue shopping to earn rewards points that they can exchange for future rewards or discounts; they continue shopping, brands don’t have to reduce prices. These programs should be transparent and points should be easy to accrue and redeem.
The best programs also offer flexibility in rewards, so consumers get what they want in exchange for their loyalty. For instance, many programs have different tiers so customers can gain small or big rewards, depending on how much they’re willing to invest. Flexibility will enable customers to stay engaged at every point in the journey.
Value doesn’t have to be lavish; it can be found in thoughtfulness. A simple gesture like a handwritten note, complimentary sample, birthday bonus offer, or free appreciation gift can go a long way.
Ultimately, consumers want to feel seen, valued, and appreciated. They want to feel an emotional connection with the brands they choose to bestow with their business. After all, it’s a competitive market out there and if you won’t cater to the individual, the consumer knows there are plenty of other brands that will. Tools and technologies make it possible to see each shopper as a unique individual and tailor the experience on a micro level. By taking care to create a personalized, omnichannel, rewards-packed experience, you show consumers you understand what they value and what matters most in their lives.