Brands must differentiate to meet new consumer demands for health and safety, customer service and personal care, and other priorities
NEW YORK – A majority of consumers — across demographics and geographies — are reimagining their values and basing purchasing decisions on factors beyond price and quality, according to a new report by Accenture (NYSE: ACN).
Accenture’s 16th annual research report based on a survey of more than 25,000 consumers across 22 countries, entitled “Life Reimagined: Mapping the motivations that matter for today’s consumers” set out to understand how companies can capitalize on evolving consumer expectations to achieve new levels of growth and competitive agility.
Fifty percent of those surveyed are coming out of the pandemic having reimagined their behaviors and values as consumers. They have reevaluated what is important to them in life and are increasingly focused on their personal purpose. This is having a direct impact on what, how and why they buy. An additional 33% of consumers surveyed have evolving values and purchasing mindsets while interestingly, the unprecedented experience of the pandemic has had no impact on the buyer values of 17% of respondents.
“As the world reopens for business, the consumer we knew is no longer. Today’s consumer desires a different relationship with a brand,” asserts Baiju Shah, chief strategy officer at Accenture Interactive. “Brands must reevaluate and rebuild relevance to these new buyer values, and anticipate and meet the needs of their consumers in the moment. Leaders must make a critical choice to either tune in and create experiences that matter or tune out and miss the opportunity to differentiate and create sustained growth.”
The research — created by Accenture Strategy and Accenture Interactive — analyzed over 80 unique factors across 14 industries and found that five distinct areas are increasingly driving consumers’ purchasing decisions. The five factors extend beyond price and quality to include health and safety; service and personal care; ease and convenience; product origin; and trust and reputation. Perhaps even more notable is that these five factors, which have been historically important to the specific demographic groups of Gen Z and Millennials, have now hit a tipping point and are considered critical across the full breadth of consumer demographics.
“In order to drive new value and growth, the C-suite must take action now to reset their strategies and set new standards for meeting and exceeding the expectations of consumers. Brands must now differentiate well beyond price and quality,” states Bill Theofilou, Accenture Strategy senior managing director who leads CEO & Enterprise Strategy for the company. “Market leaders must assure consumers that their purchasing experiences will be predictable and safe, with minimal risk of harming people or the environment. The five factors serve as the new baseline for capturing the post-pandemic consumer and will be critical for those who aspire to grow as the world emerges from the shifts accelerated in the past 18 months.”
Health and safety are paramount
Consumers are asking: Are you keeping my neighbors and me safe? What about your employees?
Health and safety ranked high in importance for reimagined consumers, with 71% believing it is crucial that companies prioritize health considerations for consumers and employees in all operations.
Seventy-one percent of reimagined consumers believe that companies/brands are just as responsible as governments for the health of societies.
Two-thirds (68%) of reimagined consumers would switch travel brands if they felt health and safety were lacking.
Customer service and personal care are top of mind
Consumers are asking: Do you remember me? Are you making my experience with your brand as personal as it can be? Are you there for me when I need you?
More than half of reimagined consumers say they would switch brands if a brand doesn’t create clear and easy options for contacting customer service or provide clear responses about service levels related to pandemic or economic/societal issues.
Moreover, 50% of reimagined consumers say that many companies disappointed them by not providing enough support and understanding of their needs during challenging times.
Ease and convenience must be table stakes
Consumers are asking: Are you meeting me where I am, in the digital world, the physical world, and through a blend of the two? And are you able to deliver what I need, when I need it, across all channels?
A substantial 57% of reimagined consumers would switch retailers if they did not “offer new fast and flexible delivery options of goods such as click-and-collect and curbside pickup.”
In the healthcare industry, reimagined consumers appreciate the convenience of virtual health appointments as well, with 51% saying they would change providers if they did not offer online appointments instead of physical visits when appropriate.
Product origin is increasingly important
Consumers are asking: What about the environment, and societal and corporate responsibility? Can you help me make sustainable choices? Can you help me support my local community?
Reimagined consumers want to know what goes into a product, how it’s produced and how far it’s been transported. Three-quarters (76%) say they are attracted to brands that source services and materials in highly ethical ways.
Additionally, 65% of reimagined consumers are attracted to doing business with brands that are environment-friendly.
Trust and reputation influence buying decisions
Consumers are asking: Can I trust you to do the right thing for me and not just for your business? Can I trust you to be who you say you are and stand for the things you say you stand for?
Across a wide swath of industries, a majority of reimagined consumers said they would switch providers if they did not “take visible actions for a positive social impact — e.g., related to inclusion and diversity, environmental protection or protecting the health of the population.”
For example, in the travel and life insurance industries, “strong ethical values” were either the top or second strongest motivator or loyalty driver among reimagined consumers.
The full report is available at www.accenture.com/ConsumerResearch.
About the Research
Accenture conducted its 16th annual Global Consumer Pulse Research to gain an understanding of global consumers’ preferences, beliefs and behaviors. The online survey of 25,444 consumers age 18+ in 22 countries was designed to identify how consumer expectations are evolving — and how companies can capitalize on that evolution to achieve new levels of growth and competitive agility. Fieldwork was conducted between December 2020 and February 2021.
Accenture is a global professional services company with leading capabilities in digital, cloud and security. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries, we offer Strategy and Consulting, Interactive, Technology and Operations services — all powered by the world’s largest network of Advanced Technology and Intelligent Operations centers. Our 537,000 people deliver on the promise of technology and human ingenuity every day, serving clients in more than 120 countries. We embrace the power of change to create value and shared success for our clients, people, shareholders, partners and communities. Visit us at www.accenture.com.