Customers & Consumer Behaviour in 2013+
You can bet that consumer behaviour texts are now out of date. Radical changes in patterns of consumption are here to stay. Even a reduction of the Bank rate to 0.5% is not going to impact consumption. I don't see a summer rush in consumer spending. The economy needs a much bigger shift to ignite the circular flow of income from customers to suppliers of services and goods to see any sign of real recovery.
Wake Up Call in Consumption
Consumers have experienced a ‘wake up call’ so intense it will have ramifications for customer and consumer management and behaviour for decades to come. When the continuing fall-out from the recession in the public sector hits in 2012 the way we do business with our customers, or consumers of our service, will change forever.
Companies and indeed all organisations will have to examine how they transact business and adopt very new strategies to win consumer confidence. To win life time loyalty with its customer base which is the purpose of most organisations to guarantee their survival will be more than a challenge than ever.
Changes in Attitude
Consumption changes with tastes, trends, fads and emotions and we have had a huge emotional shock to the system, moving us ever forward from the traditional customers focused on transactions to the authentic customer, where purchasing is based not just on cost, but also is a reflection of their personal beliefs, values, behaviour and emotions.
Customer Management is Complex
Customer management has never been simple. Consumers and customers are complex beings who now are making conscious, thoughtful, decisions when previously their behaviour may have been driven automatically by habit.
What I mean is prior to the ‘crunch’ our consumption patterns and purchasing decisions may have been relatively and habitually defined and fixed most of the time. Now in 2011 we are giving plenty of conscious thought to buying decisions. As more public sector cuts arise we will see a rise in default mortgage payments and more suppliers will be competing for less money.
Automatic vs. Conscious Purchase Decisions
We would tend to purchase goods and services driven by our lifestyles and our habitual way of living – such as always eating at the same restaurant every few weeks, purchasing a variety of magazines at the weekend or buying personal treats’ once a week from an high class retail shop.
Now, consumption has changed and will change forever. Other retailers tell us that consumption for certain items has declined by 20-30% which is only start of the trends of conscious rational purchasing decisions mirrored in trends in consumption in future years.
Conscious Consumption Spread to all Suppliers
It does not matter which area of the economy we occupy. We note that changes in the consumption of food, leisure services, basic retail goods, white goods and automotive products will change forever because people are now running any purchasing decisions through their own checklist of questions – Do I need this? Can I purchase it cheaper elsewhere? Are there any better deals? Can I buy it on-line or somewhere else?
Emotions and the Authentic Customer
More business should be aware that there are key emotions that drive customer loyalty and purchasing decisions. This is true whether you are purchasing a candy bar or HP for a new car.
If you consult a dictionary you will find 3000+ words to describe emotions or emotional states experienced by us all.
Did you know that the presence or absence of emotions can have this impact on a purchasing decision? Of course, the emotions within and during the purchasing process will vary and can be changed radically by your approach to customer management. I will illustrate with just 7 emotions. During the purchase of a retail item a variety of customers expressed these emotions.
Do you know the key emotions that are created when you transact business pre and post purchase with your customers? What positive emotions can you create in your sales cycle and what negative emotions can you avoid generating with your customer? Most retailers and suppliers simply do not know.
It surely makes sense to promote the positive emotions and these may not be present in the sample above. It’s also wise to restrict any opportunity for your customer to experience any negative emotion. It’s in your hands you have control.
Authentics & Millennials
‘Authentics’ and ‘Millennials’ are replacing the traditional Consumer or Customer. They are individualistic, independent, informed and distrustful of big business. Lots of things occupy their minds and they depend on multi-media to refine their tastes. You have a few seconds to impress them because their attention span is short.
Time & Loyalty
Time is of the essence. They want things now and time is a scarce commodity, so don’t waste it. There is never a second opportunity to make a great first impression with the new consumer.
Loyalties to one provider as a concept is out you have to impress them every time at every opportunity and at every stage of any transaction – pre to post purchase decisions.
Buyer’s Remorse is intense with new consumers and disappointment with your provision of service will be widely broadcast.
As you may gather this requires customer management excellence. And how few organisations provide this?
Casual purchasing decisions that were automatic and habitual will now require more analysis.
Add to this formula the recession, unemployment when the threat to one’s livelihood is real and personal how will you now transact business with them? The consumer and the market place have changed forever.
Customer & Consumer Management Post 2012+
So what can we do about it in business? You will need some independent research to:
If any of these ideas are of value to you and you would like to take these further contact us direct at Philip@philipatkinson.com
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