COVID-19 has forced businesses to change how they engage with their customers, their employees, their suppliers and how they operate. Historical experience is less relevant as we transition to the new normal shaped by COVID-19.

In the third edition of our Global Customer Insights Report – “Me, My Life, My Wallet” we are looking at key trends that we believe will drive changes in the market – both globally and in Ireland. These are “big picture” macro trends and businesses will need to address these when deciding what their future business will look like. 

36 %

of consumers expect companies to reduce all friction associated with delivery.

49 %

of consumers are now more focused on saving rather than spending.

80 %

of consumers prefer buying from and into the brands whose actions align with their beliefs and values.

90 %

of consumers are willing to pay more to an ethical retailer or brand that gives back to society.

Key global trends

Globally, the pandemic has accelerated equality, both in the manner information is consumed and what’s important to us when we buy.

We are seeing this in key trends such as:

  • Generation gap narrowing – from Generation Z to the silent generation what matters is becoming more and more universal and less dependent on age.
  • Tech penetration - 34% of children between aged 10 to 14 have access to a mobile phone and 81% of the over-75s
  • Ethical value - 90% of consumers are prepared to pay more to an ethical retailer or brand that gives back to society.
Hand holding shopping bags

The local view – Ireland

From an Irish perspective, as consumers we want to get the basics right.

We see this in the data with virtually all Irish respondents placing a high value on a good website, an ability to resolve service issues and human webchat.  We are less impressed by bots, virtual reality and artificial intelligence than many of our neighbours. We are happy to digitally self-serve but want access to human support as needed.

We value our privacy and data (93% would never want their data sold) and are increasingly worried about our wellbeing with 88% placing a higher priority on our Health post-COVID.

We are also saving more with 51% putting more aside since the lockdown and 49% saying they value future over current finances.

Trend spotlight - Blurring the generation gap

One trend that stood out to me, and I would like to set out in a little more detail is the blurring of the generation gap globally.

Perhaps we truly are in this together as our research indicates that generations have more in common now than ever before. COVID-19 has accelerated the sharing of values across each of the five key generations:

  • The Silent Generation (75+) and their rapid adoption of tech - 81 percent now use a smartphone, compared with 61 percent pre-COVID-19. They are now more concerned  with economic and social disparity - it now concerns 75% of the over-75s, compared to 40 percent pre-COVID-19
  • The Baby Boomers (54 to 74) – the “echo effect” has continued with Boomers now much keener to use firms who share their values (83 percent), they are also going cashless far quicker than anticipated
  • Generation X (37 to 53) - 75 percent are worried about their children’s success and the world they are going into.
  • Millennials (17 to 36) - 32 percent of Millennials are caring for an aging parent.
  • Generation Z (7 to 16) - 92 percent are concerned about the economy.

In our report we discuss why these trends matter, with implications where:

  • marketing efforts are demographically targeted
  • management are slow to embrace sustainability trends that boomers share with Gen X
  • Consumers placing a greater emphasis on trust and ethical wealth.
Shopping trolley key on keyboard

Applying the insight – the Five Mys

But this knowledge needs to be matched with the capabilities and resources of the business – not all businesses can simply “go online”. Businesses that win in the market will be those that can balance understanding the knowledge of their customers with investment that suits their business.

We have identified a framework - “The Five Mys” - to help organisations understand customer decision-making:

  • My Motivation - characteristics that drive behaviour and expectations
  • My Attention - ways we direct our attention and focus
  • My Connection - how we connect to devices, information
  • My Watch - how we balance the constraints of time
  • My Wallet - how we adjust our share of wallet

In summary

Nobody has all the answers as we move forward, but what is certain is that focusing on customer needs will always be a lighthouse for staying and remaining relevant.

Deep customer insight will enable businesses to meet customers where they are, with what they want and how they want it.

Get in touch

Interested in how retail and spending trends will affect your business? Contact Niall Savage, Head of Retail; we'd be delighted to hear from you.

Blurred photo of shoppers on escalators

Explore the report

How do you tell a fad from a trend?

The entire world has experienced decades' worth of change in one year. Because so much of this sudden, unexpected and abrupt change has been enforced by COVID-19 it can be hard, even for organisations that have invested in data and analytics, to distinguish a transient fad from an enduring long-term trend.

Reaching Gen Z in the time of COVID-19

Insights to achieve growth in a changing world. For every fact about Gen Z there is a contradictory one. One in three want to be the first to use new technology. At the same time, more than one in eight have scaled down or discontinued their use of social media in the past year. No wonder this cohort – born between 1997 and 2010 – is sometimes referred to as 'the identity shifters.'

Are we really as busy as we like to think we are?

Before COVID-19, 'time poverty' was a common complaint. Although OECD figures show that average hours worked per person per year across its members fell from 1,807 in 2000 to 1,726 in 2019 , many consumers felt they had more to do and less time to do it in. Hours spent commuting to work, the need to do more with less when they got there, our digitally-enabled 'always on' lifestyle, all contributed to the feeling that life was proceeding at a frenetic pace.

How personal is your personalisation strategy?

Before COVID-19 struck, companies were investing 14 percent of their marketing budgets in delivering a personalised customer experience. The question is: do consumers actually want one? The unequivocal answer is that they certainly do. More than two out of three respondents in KPMG International's research identified personalisation as one of their two key priorities for customer service.

Does purpose matter?

Purpose is the organisation's answer to the perennial question: 'Why are we here?' To answer that, leaders need to consider whether that purpose is relevant to customers and communities, is unique to them and is something they can do better than their competitors.