Adobe has published its 2021 Digital Trends Report which documents some of the major tendencies of last year. The report shares two perspectives. The changing nature of digital since the impact of the pandemic. Adobe also explores what companies are planning for 2021.
New wave of digital-first customers
According to the report, the pandemic signalled the rise of a new type of digital person – the digital-first customer. Forty-four percent of respondents from Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) saw an increase in this new type of customers. These customers’ buying habits have shifted entirely online. They expect a seamless user experience from brands. They expect such experiences to be considered, authentic and personalised.
The report shows that as well as being increasingly digital-first, this new breed of customer also displays unpredictable buyer behaviour. They are more willing to take their business elsewhere.
- Digital-first: 64% of EMEA brands experienced ‘unusual’ growth in customer demand across digital.
- Unpredictable behaviour: Half of the brands in EMEA (47%) say existing customers have exhibited new buying patterns. This includes changes to average basket sizes and new product interests.
- Willing to move: 30% of respondents in EMEA also report that customers are now less loyal to products or brands. This means brands need to work harder to attract and retain buyers.
Speed-to-insight is key
The report outlines the key to understanding this new breed of customers. The challenge for enterprises is to quickly and accurately capture and transform data that customers share into actionable insights.
The research, however, exposes a gap between ambition and capability. Only 24% of EMEA respondents rate their ability to gather accurate insights and ability to action them rapidly, ‘very strong’.
Encouragingly, there is a direct link between ‘speed-to-insight’ and more focused marketing spend. Those companies who are digitally mature and possess lightning-quick insight gathering typically enjoy increases to their marketing (50%). In addition to impressive levels of acquisition (52%), and retention budgets (44%).
This year’s Digital Trends Report is a departure from previous editions. It investigates new areas and examines areas that feel particularly important. These areas include the impact of a distributed workforce and empathy as the driver of experience. Furthermore, how businesses can put customers first by having a brand purpose that resonates with employees.
Customer experience separates the wheat from the chaff
The report notes that a sophisticated, integrated customer experience (CX) continues to allow brands to outperform competitors. Seventy-one per cent of EMEA brands were more likely to have ‘significantly outperformed’ their sectors when it comes to digital experiences. This compared to brands with a less sophisticated CX approach.
Moreover, companies with strong analytics functions are over twice as likely to boast customers who are positive about digital experiences. Again when compared to businesses with lower levels of insight (71% vs 31%).
However, there is still a long way to go when it comes to realising the potential of a top-class customer experience. Fifty-nine per cent of EMEA respondents admitted they would become frustrated if they were to experience their own brand’s CX.
Empathy to become customer experience’s most valuable trait
The report also revealed that analysing and adapting to a customer’s journey was another key focus area for 2021. Consideration of customers motivations and challenges was front and centre for many brands during the pandemic. However, only one-in-five EMEA companies say they possess ‘significant insight’ into people’s mindsets or friction points during the customer journey.
Friction points occur when a decision or action needs to be taken. This can evoke anything from anxiety and concern, to hope and excitement. The ability to understand the areas of friction, throughout the customer experience, will enable brands to connect with their audiences.
“The events of 2020 have accelerated digital transformation,” said Alvaro Del Pozo, Vice President of International Marketing at Adobe. The 11th edition of the Digital Trends report, with Econsultancy, surveyed over 13,000 marketing and IT professionals across the world. The survey aimed to understand the widespread business impact of 2020 on all sectors, and priorities for 2021 and beyond.
Enterprise Times: What this means for business?
Adobe always produces interesting, well researched and thought-leading research. The report notes a new breed of digital-first, experience-driven customer. The report highlights a number of trends that can help inform digital marketing priorities and investment decisions. Organisations must be agile and quick to respond to new technology and digital developments. With the emergence of 5G setting to vastly improve many customer experience interactions, exploiting these developments could be the difference between success and failure. The new reality means brands have to engage with audiences whose expectations have changed exponentially over the past 12 months. Businesses will need to connect and automate customer data held in silos across the business. Without this 360 degree understanding of customers, brands will fail to nurture the considered, authentic and personalised experiences customers expect. These digital-first customers will simply look elsewhere.