Bye-bye broad brush: Are you doing enough to reach the new consumer of today?

Man looking at his phone smiling surrounded by abstract shapes

Few of us would have predicted the surge in digital usage we’ve seen over the past two years. Actively encouraged to avoid in-person interactions due to the pandemic, we’ve shifted our work, our social interactions and our spending habits to our screens at an unprecedented rate.

To help us better understand what this means for brands seeking to provide the best digital experience for consumers, Adobe commissioned Forrester Consulting to learn more about the current state of personalised customer experiences and how you can scale to deliver personalised experiences to each customer you serve.

We also surveyed 5,000 consumers across APAC on their expectations and preferences around what makes a good, or a bad, brand experience.

The results reveal the emergence of a new consumer, one who refuses to be stereotyped and demands brands treat them as multidimensional individuals.

Understanding consumers as unique individuals

Consumers are universally feeling the weight of change - 56% of APAC consumers see themselves differently compared to their pre-pandemic selves (40% in Australia, 49% in India and 56% in Singapore). Change is now a constant, and the speed at which people’s preferences change is also startling - more than half of people try or give up new things every three months.

As a result, 86% of consumers want to be seen and treated as an individual, and the majority expect to receive personalised experiences if they share their data and personal preferences.

For brands seeking to deliver a superior customer experience, the consequences of not considering the individual can be serious. More than half will develop a negative perception of a brand that interacts with them based on broad or inaccurate assumptions.

“People are so important - we weren’t doing great personalisation five years ago,” said National Australia Bank’s Stevie-Ann Dovico, Executive Digital, Customer & Colleague, at a recent panel event.

“It’s a big shift from old school marketing - it’s not just about the tech, it’s about helping the workforce come on the journey.”

She said that as a bank, they have data across life stages to deliver those personalised experiences.

Generational markers – limitations of a broad demographic approach

As we seek to build trust with consumers through personalised interactions, it’s worthwhile taking a step back to see whether these generational stereotypes are reaching those they supposedly describe.

While nearly half of people across APAC (48%) think that being labelled by their age cohort is relevant and helpful, more than a third (38%) do not. This varies across countries; in Australia, only 29% find it helpful, while in Singapore it’s 46% and India 69%.

Also, not everyone agrees with stereotypes about their generation – 38% of Australian consumers, 18% of Indian consumers and 28% of Singaporean consumers don’t agree with theirs.

In all countries, the oldest and youngest generations are the ones least likely to strongly identify their demographic groups.

By contrast, three times as many people said they feel closer to people who share their passions and interests than those of a similar age (62% vs 19%).

What today’s consumers really want

With broad brush approaches no longer relevant, we need to think about how to tailor content to add genuine value to the rapidly evolved consumer of today. Some clues for how to do this include:

  1. There is room to do better at providing meaningful experiences at every stage of the customer journey. Most people want brands to understand them as a complete person, in different areas of their lives and interests (46% in Australia, 87% in India, 62% in Singapore). Some feel brands could do a better job of keeping up with their preferences and interests (25% in Australia, 12% in India, 27% in Singapore).
  2. We need to show consumers we respect them by offering real-time content tailored to them. Most people are very impressed by real-time content and offers (51% in Australia, 50% in India, 64% in Singapore). And most will advocate for a brand that knows them and tailors their interactions accordingly (57% in Australia, 83% in India, 68% in Singapore).
  3. Aim for consistency over a big-bang approach. Three times as many consumers across the region would rather get regular thoughtful gestures based on their preferences than one-off gestures that make them feel special (62% vs 21%).
  4. Be aware that while personalisation builds trust, trust can easily be broken. Our APAC Trust Research revealed that consumers will stop buying immediately if a brand uses data without their permission (68%), has a data breach (67%) or disrespects their data preferences (68%).

Know me, show me and help me - in the moments that matter

The verdict is in: consumers expect digital experiences that are relevant to them as individuals at that time, are consistent, provide value and are based on a strong foundation of trust. Those that don’t have the most up-to-date information will struggle to build trust with their customers.

The next challenge is not just to personalise for the individual, but do it at scale.

Lisa Samuels, Chief Experience Officer at Australian superannuation fund HESTA said they build personalised experiences aimed at increasing customers’ financial confidence. To do this at scale, they enlisted Adobe’s help to build a member suggestion platform.

Similarly, Skye Murray, Head of Digital Performance at Sydney University said they moved onto an Adobe Experience Manager site which provided data and drove data-driven decision making. Now, they have a customer data platform (CDP) which is guiding their next steps.

“Our team is focusing on how we can simplify the experience and content students are shown, as well as how they understand key moments that drive conversation.”

Hear more insights from NAB, Sydney University and HESTA’s recent panel discussion at Adobe’s Experience Makers Live.

Download Personalisation At Scale: Bring Forth The Customer And Business Benefits Of Experience Excellence to learn more about benefits and best practices of delivering personalised experiences during every step of your customer’s journeys.