55% Of Consumers Want Affordable Experiences With Brands: Report

Technology advancements have continually accelerated over the years, which has elevated and evolved consumers’ expectations, giving them greater control and influence over the way brands market to them

Merkle has unveiled the first installment of its '2024 Customer Experience Imperatives' research series, titled ‘Engagement to Empowerment: Winning in Today’s Experience Economy’.

Merkle has released its CX Imperatives report for the past 12 years, and this is the first year that the forward-looking flagship piece is based on proprietary research. This report, which is the first of several to be published in 2024, focuses on insights from a consumer survey conducted in Q4 of 2023. Merkle surveyed 2,100 consumers and 820 brands across 18 countries and three continents. This initial installment is focused on consumers, who were asked questions on topics such as AI in marketing, preferences on customer data usage, and adoption of emerging tech. The brand responses will be the basis of the second report, to be released this spring.

Key insights:

  • 58 per cent of consumers are highly concerned whether their data/privacy/identity is being protected

  • 55 per cent of consumers want future experiences with brands to be more affordable or cost-effective

  • 46 per cent of consumers want future experiences with brands to be easier or more convenient

  • +20 per cent or more of consumers across all industries strongly prefer human experiences when requesting support

Technology advancements have continually accelerated over the years, which has elevated and evolved consumers’ expectations, giving them greater control and influence over the way brands market to them. Merkle’s research shows that on average, only 2.5 sources of information influence a consumer’s brand decision. Brands don’t have the same margin of error they once did, so they must embrace and support this new wave of empowered consumers and make it clear how the experiences they deliver improve their customers’ lives.

To excel in an increasingly crowded field, Merkle urges brands to focus on responding to consumers’ stated preferences about their brand experiences to increase trust and build long-term relationships.

“With this research, we wanted to give CX practitioners real insight into how consumers experience brands today,” says Pete Stein, global president of Merkle. “Brands that wish to excel in the experience economy must keep pace with customer’s evolving expectations.”

The study’s findings reveal six critical imperatives for brands that seek to deliver exemplary customer experiences:

  1. Understand CX fundamentals from the customer’s point of view
  2. Use customer data for the customer’s benefit
  3. Use ethical AI to create convenience and build trust
  4. Meet the customer’s need for live human interaction
  5. Focus on the post-purchase experience
  6. Experiment with emerging tech to invent new forms of customer empowerment

Stein further adds, “At a time when consumers have more control and buying options, it’s critical for brands to not just chase trends but get to the root of what a ‘great’ customer experience entails. True customer empowerment requires more than just personalisation; it demands authentic connections and experiences that resonate deeply.”

Commenting on the report, Harsha Razdan, CEO, South Asia, dentsu mentions, “We are witnessing a major shift from ‘Engagement to Empowerment’, where consumers expect more than just transactions from brands. They want meaningful interactions that safeguard their data, value their time, and enhance their lives. The report is based on global research and offers practical guidance on how to master the fundamentals of customer experience, use data ethically, leverage AI for convenience and trust, prioritise human interaction, improve post-purchase experiences, and experiment with emerging technology. We invite brands to join us in this exciting journey and shape the future of customer engagement.”

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