It’s official – physical and digital engagement is paramount for effective customer engagement.
No matter what age, gender or location, consumers around the world agree that when it comes to brand interactions, personal, trusted and reliable omnichannel engagement is the preferred option and choice.
Over 85 per cent of 2,000 global consumers surveyed by the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council, in partnership with Pitney Bowes, reveal that a blend of both digital and physical channel experiences is the preferred way of interfacing with brands.
Yet, only 13 per cent of consumers believe that brands are fully meeting this expectation and delivering across both physical and digital channels.
Bucking the assumption that younger generations are digital-only, 87 per cent of Millennials (born between 1981-1996) and GenZ (born after 1997) say they prefer an omnichannel choice of communications. Across all generations, key omnichannel touchpoints are an expectation, not an option.
These include access to email, phone, web, in-person engagements, video, social media and printed mail. The overwhelming majority of consumers – 91 per cent – suggest that omnichannel experiences are either important or critical, with 29 per cent suggesting that companies should be “where I want, when I want, ready to share and communicate how I expect.”
Among the key generational shifts identified by the study:
- When it comes to channels consumers can’t live without, all but GenZ reached for their phones. For GenZ, they simply cannot part with social, which they are likely accessing on their phone.
- Social emerges as a key channel of discovery and influence for Millennials and GenZ, while GenX (born between 1965-1980), Boomers (born between 1946-1964) and the Silent Generation (born between 1928-1945) rely on websites to discover new products, and they admit that web is also the biggest influence on buying decisions.
- Think ONLY GenZ is an open book? Think again. Across all generations, the majority of consumers are comfortable sharing some data with brands, especially consumers in Europe who have been well-educated about data and its uses and benefits. In exchange, consumers expect to understand what is collected and how it is used. Specifically, Millennials are slightly more inclined to share more data in exchange for better personalisation.
- Everyone gets frustrated when asked to re-start conversations with a brand after they shift to a new channel. But Boomers hold a grudge, as 78 per cent – the highest across all ages – say that this frustration has led them to question why they do business with the brand at all.
“It is easy to assume that a single generation will embrace or reject a single channel as we see individual adoption rates soar or plummet year over year,” noted CMO Council SVP of marketing Liz Miller.
“But we also live in an age where we are seeing incredible creativity being applied across both digital and physical channels – where digitally native brands like Google, Casper and Harry’s Shave Club are looking to disrupt consumer behavior and consideration patterns with beautiful printed pieces pulled from a mailbox and extend the reach and impact of email, mobile and in-store experiences.
“We can’t afford to ignore or discount physical experiences by assuming digital is the only channel of engagement. Consumers are not focused on channel. They are focused on their own needs, requirements and preferences. The call to action is to meet them in their moments and not in ours,” she adds.
One example of how channels are evolving to increase influence and disrupt behaviours can be seen in consumer reaction and reliance on video. Consumers indicate that control, personalisation and the ability to “build-their-own-adventure” were all ways to their hearts and wallets.
Nearly half of respondents (48 per cent) said they want to engage with videos that reflected specific products and services they own or are interested in. Another 43 per cent stated they would like video to be more interactive, allowing them to decide what information they can view and when.
“It’s incredible to note how even the newest and most exciting of digital channels continue to evolve as consumer preference fully embraces the omnichannel opportunity,” noted Pitney Bowes VP of marketing & communications Jeff Winter.
“Whether by traditional means of communication, or more modern means like video and chatbot, one constant remains: everyone wants to be treated as an individual and it is up to us to deliver on that promise. The amount of data and emerging technologies available today make this an attainable goal for our industry. But it’s those brands who embrace these capabilities that will stand out as leaders in the future.”
The report, dubbed Critical Channels of Choice, is now available for download from the CMO Council. An executive summary is available for complimentary download thanks to support from Pitney Bowes.
It reveals key details of expectation, intention and motivation of over 2,000 consumers surveyed via the Pollfish consumer panel in the late spring of 2019.