Adobe Research (credit image/Pixabay/PublicDomainPictures)Adobe has published research suggesting how brands can navigate economic uncertainty in three key areas customers and employees value most. Delivering personalised experiences, innovating to stay ahead of expectations, and running their businesses responsibly.

According to Luc Dammann, President of EMEA at Adobe, “Competition for share of wallet has intensified. Increasing digital-first spending habits, economic conditions and new ethical priorities transform customer expectations at a time. This is taking place when every company must do more with less.

(Credit image/LinkedIn/Luc Dammann)
Luc Dammann, President of EMEA at Adobe

“To differentiate in this climate, brands must provide more intuitive and relevant customer experiences that add value. While also operating their businesses responsibly. This experience-led approach builds trust and loyalty that in turn drives the profitable growth for which all brands strive.”

Adobe’s latest findings are based on two studies conducted across 14 countries from February to May 2023, capturing the perceptions of over 4,000 marketing and customer experience professionals and more than 13,000 consumers in each study.

Key findings include:

Consumers prioritise great experiences

50% of global consumers said they expect even better experiences from brands when
economic conditions become more challenging. 28% said their expectations are much higher when the economy weakens. Only 14% said their expectations decrease when economic conditions get worse.

Younger consumers (Generation Z and millennials) have even higher expectations in a down economy. 65% said their customer experience expectations are higher during tough economic times, with 35% indicating their expectations are much higher.

Consumers prefer better customer experiences over rock-bottom prices

When consumers were asked to identify the best formula for keeping their loyalty during
difficult economic times, they ranked “a balanced approach” – balancing profitability,
customer experience and corporate responsibility needs – as #1. They chose “focus on
customer experience” (deprioritize all other factors to make their experiences amazing) as #2. They ranked “offer absolute lowest prices” (deprioritize everything else to ensure they get the lowest price) #3.

Consumers want companies to use generative AI to improve experiences – responsibly

When it comes to the most important things companies should do using new generative AI technologies, consumers ranked responsibility #1. 34% prioritised actions like having guardrails in place to encourage ethical use, protecting creators’ intellectual property and avoid litigation.

30% of consumers said it was most important to use generative AI to improve customers’ experiences. 15% prioritised actions that would enhance employees’ experiences, like making work easier and more efficient. 9% of respondents said the most important consideration for companies adopting generative AI is that they use it to make the business more financially successful. Only 10% said companies should not use generative AI at all.

Marketing and CX professionals are rising to the opportunity, with 89% reporting they are
already exploring ways to use this new technology in their work.

Responsible business practices build consumer trust

According to the research, the way brands can build consumer trust is by keeping
customer data safe. In addition to using it in line with their expectations– especially during challenging economic times.

Another important way brands can build trust is by demonstrating social accountability. The
research found that environmental sustainability is the top corporate and social responsibility priority for global brands. 69% said they currently invest in sustainability initiatives. 70% said complying with local and global sustainability policies and requirements helps them earn trust and makes them more competitive.

82% said environmental responsibility is important for consumers. Even more (88%) of Gen Zers said they will decrease spending with brands that don’t comply with sustainability requirements. More than a quarter of consumers (27%) said they will refuse to spend any money at all with those brands.

Companies that don’t invest in making their workplaces, products and services accessible for as many people as possible may feel a similar impact. 85% of consumers report they will decrease spending with brands that don’t make their customers’ experiences accessible. 29% say they will refuse to spend any money at all with those brands.


Between February and May 2023, Adobe conducted two surveys across 14 countries (US, UK, France, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, India, Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia), capturing the perceptions of over 4,000 marketing and customer experience professionals and more than 13,000 consumers in each study.

Enterprise Times: What this means for business

The writing on the wall is clear for brands in this report. To initiate, sustain and maintain relationships with customers, brands must deliver great customer experiences. Inevitably this will require investing in transformation technologies that enable them to have a pulse on the consumers’ needs and desires.

Furthermore, brands must operate responsibly, taking their platitudes on the environment and sustainability seriously. Otherwise, consumers, particularly millennials and Generation Z’s will punish them at the checkout. (Or rather, not going to the checkout or shopping cart.)

The use of Generative AI is an interesting component of the research. Marketers are looking to the technology to help them work faster and deliver better customer experiences. Meanwhile, consumers have suggested the need for guardrails in place, the encouragement of ethical use and protecting creators’ IP as key.

These are points that all brands, retailers and organisations must consider before they rush to embrace the technology. As usual, Adobe’s research is interesting and provides plenty of food for thought for today’s modern enterprise.


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