What industries need to know about the new customer
The human race has survived a pandemic that has sown fear and uncertainty around the world. And our way of life has been severely impacted. Companies have embraced work-from-home and hybrid work models, prioritized employee well-being, and recognized that putting the customer at the center of all decisions is key to success.
This means that brands that grab the true concept of customer orientation will be successful. Being customer-centric should no longer be a buzzword; it must be understood and implemented with empathy.
What does the new customer look like and how can organizations adapt their business strategies to meet them?
From digital transformation to customer experience transformation
Today’s customers are savvier and better informed than ever.
“The customer of 2022 expects seamless experiences from all brands, and the customer now dictates how brands should engage with them, not the other way around. Whatever business you are in operate, your primary focus should be customer experience transformation,” says Greg Gatherer, Account Manager at Liferay Africa.
Today’s consumers demand engaging, connected and actionable digital experiences. “Good” experiences will not suffice. “With this in mind, companies will need to identify the technology that will allow them to achieve these goals and transform their operations,” adds Gatherer.
“For example, a digital experience platform is intended to serve as an integration hub, bringing together disparate applications and systems to enable the creation, delivery and management of digital experiences across the customer journey” , explains Gatherer.
Customers will no longer be required to switch between multiple applications to perform activities. “Instead, consumers can rely on the customer portal to be the go-to tool for everything they need. It streamlines their entire experience, which improves customer retention,” says Gatherer.
From browsing brochures to exploring virtual reality
Tourism is another area where technology has driven fundamental changes, profoundly affecting the way travel customers search, shop and pay.
According to Tshepo Matlou, head of marketing and communications at Jurni, the most obvious change is the growth of online booking. “Previously, people who dreamed of vacations had to rely on travel agencies or tourist office leaflets to find accommodation – a concept that seems absurd today,” says Matlou.
Being able to choose the features you want, while browsing high-quality photos of potential accommodations on online booking sites, is now the most obvious route.
The rapid increase in online bookings and purchases has made travel customers expect tour operators large and small to have kept up with modern advancements. This includes allowing them to explore the accommodation in virtual reality (VR) before making a reservation.
“Modern travelers are also increasingly socially aware and conscious, seeking more authentic experiences that connect them to the areas they visit,” says Matlou. “These can often be found in small guesthouses and business owners outside of major cities in areas that are incredibly rich in cultural value and have much to offer visitors who wish to explore them. For this reason , localized booking sites will become more prevalent in the coming years.”
Client confidentiality is essential
The previous two years have seen dramatic changes in almost every facet of our lives.
“Our behavior as consumers is no different. We have changed not only where and how we buy, but also what we buy. Regardless of age or demographic, shopping online is much more accessible than it was before,” says Dori-Jo Bonner, strategist at Striata Africa.
As modern buyer expectations of businesses have changed, a major consumer concern is a company’s ability to demonstrate that it values its privacy and is responsible for its data.
“Worryingly, a survey conducted prior to the implementation of POPIA found that only 22% of South African businesses are aware of the privacy laws governing their marketing efforts. Given the massive amounts of consumer data that companies have accrued through loyalty and direct marketing programs, need to be extra careful in terms of compliance,” says Bonner.
Understanding the new customer requires empathy
The needs, desires and preferences of the contemporary customer are constantly changing; To stay relevant, no brand can afford to ignore these nuances, according to Reagen Kok, CEO of Hoorah Digital.
“Particularly in the creative industry, our relevance is reflected in our ability to respond appropriately to the zeitgeist in terms of needs and nuances. Empathy has an important role to play in this, because the” new customer “must be approached with empathy,” says Kok.
Empathy shows customers that brands understand them in ways others don’t. Brands that understand the value of empathy engage their customers more thoughtfully, making sure it feels like an authentic response to their needs.
“Empathy says, ‘We get what you want and need – here’s how we can help you solve it’, as opposed to ‘look at what we do – we think you need this approach marketing,” adds Kok.
Tailor-made offers to meet specific needs
Post-pandemic customers are tech-savvy and expect far more brands in terms of tailoring their offering to meet their exact needs at the exact time they need it.
“For a business, this means letting go of the ‘build and they will come’ mentality and instead working to ensure that they – first – understand the needs, frustrations and aspirations of their customers and – second – ensure that their strategic and operational capability is such that they can respond to these needs in a timely manner,” says Jonathan Hurvitz, CEO of Teljoy.
Hurvitz explains that for retailers in particular, this means redefining what customer loyalty is in 2022 and responding accordingly.
“It’s about understanding not just the evolution of retail, but also the evolution of the customer, and using that as a foundation from which to exceed customer expectations. It means having the operational capability to make changes quickly, adapt quickly, constantly reinvent and respond quickly to market trends,” says Hurvitz.
Optimal nutrition now takes center stage
It can certainly be said that the pandemic has changed the way consumers perceive their overall health.
Now more than ever, they are paying more attention to what they eat and the overall nutritional value of those foods. This is especially true for those who cannot necessarily afford to incorporate a wide variety of foods into their daily diet.
However, while the shift in consumer behavior towards more “mindful” consumption is a positive response to the pandemic, it comes at a time when soil quality deterioration is occurring at a faster rate.
“Healthy soil nutrients are directly linked to the quality of farmers’ produce. This in turn has a negative impact on human nutrition and health through adverse effects on the quality of food production. Reduced crop yields due to erosion of soil quality can further lead to low concentration of protein and crucial micronutrients in produce – exacerbating malnutrition,” says Andre Redinger, Founder of Millhouse International.
As consumers continue to pay more attention to what they eat, adding foods fortified with the vitamins and micronutrients lacking due to soil degradation and other factors to their daily diets is the number one strategy they can adopt. This is to ensure that they are getting the optimal nutritional intake to combat the effects of foods that are not perfectly nutritious.
Customers customer trends customer statistics South African consumer consumer trends customer buying behavior customer behavior consumer’s behavior post-pandemic consumer post-pandemic customer