6 Trends to Note for 2017 from Salesforce’s “State of the Connected Consumer” Report

December 23, 2016: Colin Withers, Brand & Communications Manager

Colin Withers is the brand & communications manager at Ariad Communications, Bluespire’s sister agency located in Toronto.

This fall, Salesforce released their “State of the Connected Consumer” report, which surveyed more than 7,000 consumers and business buyers to help marketers understand how today’s connected world has changed consumer behavior.

The report highlights the fact that consumer preferences are not uniform across generations, separating questions into responses from Millennials, Gen X’ers and Baby Boomers. Here are six key trends that turned our heads.

Consumer churn is only one bad experience away.

The cost of not providing a true 1-to-1 marketing and personalized consumer experience isn’t just about losing out on acquisition or ROI. It has already bled over into losing the consumers you’ve already won.

Case in point: consumers said they were extremely likely or somewhat likely to switch brands if a company has a difficult purchasing or checkout process (74%), doesn’t make an effort to personalize communications (52%), doesn’t anticipate their needs (50%) or doesn’t provide an easy-to-use mobile experience (50%).

Consumers continue to demand real-time interactions.

Sixty-four percent of consumers expect companies to respond and interact with them in real-time, while 80% of business buyers expect the same.

This goes far beyond simple social media replies. It means pushing content and offers via push notifications, mobile, email and predictive web content when the time is right. Think emails from an athletic company pushing their latest shoes on unseasonably warm days.

Bringing familiarity to every touchpoint.

Salesforce found 75% of consumers strongly agreed or agreed that they expect companies to provide a consistent experience wherever they engage with them, citing website, social media, mobile and in-person examples.

Especially if you are a larger financial institution, your consumers are going to expect that you know them and can anticipate their needs. If they walk into a mortgage consultation and the rep doesn’t know anything about them, they’ll be much more willing to chase the lowest rate.

Consumers are willing to share data for personalization.

In order for brands to deliver on personalized experiences, consumers understand they will have to hand over their data. Not surprisingly, 63% of Millennials, 58% of Gen X’ers and 46% of Baby Boomers agreed or strongly agreed that they were willing to share personal data in exchange for personalized offers or discounts.

This means you need to follow through on your end when asking for data. For example, if a healthcare organization asks for loads of data upon entry into a patient support program but sends patients completely generic content, they aren’t providing the level of service expected for the amount of information given up.

Technology will strengthen consumer relationships across industries.

When asked to look ahead to 2020, consumers have already decided that technology will improve their relationships with companies. The industries where consumers see the biggest positive impact in the future? Online retailers (70% agreed or strongly agreed), financial services (68% agreed or strongly agreed), travel and transportation (67% agreed or strongly agreed), and hospitality and tourism (66% agreed or strongly agreed).

Think of it this way—if a company’s online experience isn’t improving relationships with their consumers, they will look to consumer experience kings like Amazon instead.

The mobile gap between Millennials and Boomers is bigger than we think.

Salesforce reports that Millennials are nearly three times more likely than Baby Boomers to prefer purchasing products via a mobile app than an e-commerce site. They were also twice as likely to consider not purchasing from a company if it didn’t offer a mobile app, and twice as likely to wish they could do more with mobile devices.

A retiree who wants to check on their investment portfolio may not want to use an app to do so. On the other hand, a Millennial may shop elsewhere if a purchase experience is clunky on their mobile device.

As 2017 quickly approaches, another year in an increasingly digital and mobile marketplace comes to a close. Consumer expectations continue to rise, particularly during the busy holiday season. Are your 2017 plans up to the task? It’s time for marketers to take a hard look at whether they are doing enough to meet and exceed the expectations of today’s connected consumer.
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  • February 01, 2017 | Jim Caryl
    Ordinarily don't comment, but I read the Salesforce report and I suggest you re-examine or remove this post. Many of the writer's interpretations don't mesh with the findings in the report. Just one example: "real-time" in the report refers to *interactions*. As in, customer expects a return communication. Pushing content and offers, even if "personalized" or weather-dependent, is not an interaction as defined by the Salesforce survey. Just saying.
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