In the age of a global pandemic, consumer buying behavior trends are shifting to a digital, cashless system because of the effort to limit the spread of the virus. Even professional sports teams are moving to cashless stadiums to keep their fans and vendors safe.
Since transactions are increasingly digital, brands have an incredible amount of data for all of their customers, knowing:
- What customers bought.
- When they bought it.
- How much they spent.
- What payment method they used.
Tailoring a personalized message that’s relevant in these trying times is quite the feat. Marketers and brands want to deliver relevant product recommendations and website pages to help boost conversion rates and order value. But more importantly, brands are wondering how to use this data in a way that makes consumers feel safe.
Phew, this is a lot to take in…we get it. So, let’s dig into 2021 consumer buying trends, personalizing the customer experience, and addressing privacy concerns—as well as how you can use all of this information to improve your business this year.
2021 Consumer Buying Trends
While brands were already shifting towards digital transactions, the pandemic has massively accelerated the digital transformation of all businesses. Lots of brands and retailers are seeing an influx of new online shoppers and staying relevant has become even more of a challenge.
Several consumer buying trends have arisen even before the pandemic occurred, such as live streaming and shopping—also called “shopstreaming”. Other consumer buying trends include:
- Virtual appointments.
- The need to buy from brands that stand for something.
- Growing our own vegetables.
- Contactless fast food delivery.
- Contactless grocery delivery.
- Using voice assistants to order things.
Two key trends are staying at the forefront in 2021: Consumers are demanding a better data-enabled experience and also demanding more control over how that information is used.
As a result of this shift to digital-only transactions, brands are gathering more data than ever about their customers. Before the pandemic, brands were already riding this massive data wave that some didn’t quite know what to do with.
Now, in 2021, we’ve seen an even greater influx of data that brands didn’t have previously. It’s making both brands and consumers nervous and overwhelmed. But, this influx of data is also a new opportunity to drive more personalized consumer experiences.
The Convenience of Personalizing the Consumer Experience
The digital transformation of consumer payments means brands have the opportunity to personalize the consumer experience, offering a level of convenience that wasn’t previously available to them.
Brands can engage with consumers in more meaningful ways to drive revenue for the business, but also create a better experience for their customers. With the right tools, brands are able to start understanding customer preferences on a whole new level.
For instance, they’d know when people are most likely to buy and on which channel they’re most likely to buy. They’ll know what campaigns or advertisements are driving buying behavior.
Brands need to keep consumers interested by serving up content that feels important and relevant to them. The more brands know about their customers’ interests and preferences, the easier it is to make and share relevant content on the right channels at the right time.
However, that also means privacy and compliance turn into an issue for both consumers sharing their data and the brands collecting it.
Privacy Concerns with Consumer Data
While brands having more information could certainly be more convenient, many consumers are understandably worried about privacy. Consumers are wondering what these brands are going to do with their data and they want some sort of control over how their data is used.
According to a new Deloitte survey, 62% of consumers are concerned about sharing traditional identifiers, such as social security numbers, and 58% are concerned about sharing personal communications, such as text and emails. Almost half of the consumers surveyed worried about sharing images, biological data, and other personal data.
Brands aren’t even sure how to go about using this data in a useful way, while still protecting it from potential digital threats. They’ve had to put policies and procedures (and infrastructure) in place to protect consumer data to the best of their abilities, but there’s no telling whether or not they’ve done it effectively.
Using This Influx of Consumer Data to Your Advantage
Learning how to use this data entering into e-commerce and digital spaces means figuring out how to keep customer data safe, while still using it to grow the business and increase revenue. This influx of data requires care and feeding, otherwise, it goes stale or even goes bad.
Realize and Connect Buyer Behavior Patterns
One thing brands can do is start to realize patterns in buyer behaviors—the most popular channels or the channels performing well with certain customers.
Let’s say you own a retail store, and suddenly, you had to set up a Shopify store. If your brick-and-mortar customers are shopping on your online store, you know a lot more about your customer now than you did before. By analyzing your customers’ behavior on each channel, you can increase profits and create loyal customers.
The goal is to connect your data from multiple systems or platforms and unify it into a single customer 360 view of each particular person…not just a name and email address. You need to create a comprehensive view and timeline associated with that person from all of the various touch points, both in-person and online.
Focus on Loyal and Repeat Customers
Getting someone’s attention is even harder now than before the pandemic. People are more distracted because so many of us are spending more time online or on our phones and getting bombarded with information.
Once you actually do stand out and capture their attention—get them to your website, get them to buy your product or service—what’s the likelihood that they’ll return to make a repeat purchase?
It’s not news that loyal and repeat customers are more profitable for businesses. That’s why it’s essential that you find ways to keep customers coming back for more.
This could be why some businesses have turned to a subscription-based model. Take Amazon’s subscription-based “Subscribe and Save” feature. When customers use that feature, Amazon has information that gives them a sense of whether that customer is likely to continue that subscription.
Another way to keep customers coming back would be on a transactional basis (transactional churn model). A lot of the time, this is based on information that’s locked away in disparate systems.
Your email marketing system will have information regarding click-through rates, open rates, or bounce rates—or when people are actually reading their emails. Then there’s your point of sale (POS) system, perhaps in your retail store, that tells you when people are actually buying from you in person. Additionally, you might have an e-commerce store set up that’s telling you when people are buying online.
If you can tie all of that information together and look at those transactions as a timeline or the evolution of that customer through their interactions with you, you start to identify people that are likely to buy from you again…as well as those less likely to buy from you again.
Having some sort of system in place helps you deploy different strategies to different segments of your consumers based on their buying behavior.
Consider a Customer Data Platform (CDP)
Whether you’re reaching out to customers through marketing or advertising, a customer data platform (CDP) like Skypoint helps you work effectively so you stay compliant with the newest privacy laws.
If you’re not a data management or a privacy expert—and you’re not planning on hiring data engineers or privacy compliance people—you’ll need technology to do some of that heavy-lifting. Skypoint Cloud helps you derive value out of your customer data in a way that’s compliant and with privacy top of mind.
Consumers are shopping online more and more, so brands are pivoting to offer more ecommerce and digital payment options to meet consumer demand. Keeping customers engaged online isn’t easy, but now that brands have more data, they can use CDPs for insight into metrics to create predictive models based on that data.
By using data from real customers, your predictions or insights about your customers are directly tied to the experience you’re having with them, which makes for hyper-targeted and hyper-focused campaigns. See how Skypoint Cloud’s CDP transforms the way you use and protect customer data.