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CMOs now own the customer experience, and it seems as though they’ll be dealing with increased customer expectations around customized experiences in the years to come. In a new report, WE Communications finds almost half (47%) of respondents across 8 countries believing that technology absolutely will allow companies and their products/services to customize their experience in the next few years.

The ability for tech to unlock greater offerings from brands isn’t limited to customer experiences. About half replied that technology “absolutely will” allow for them to assess products or brands online and for brands to develop new products or services.

Somewhat amusingly, 41% absolutely believe that tech will let companies allow them to touch and see products before purchase – something which the physical store has always allowed…

Brands should be aware, though, that expectations will rise for many: 4 in 10 feel that technology will absolutely allow for brands to provide more for less money…

Technology should also allow for greater brand involvement in sustainability: close to half of the consumers surveyed feel strongly that tech will enable brands to be environmentally friendly and sustainable.

Tech Is Certainly Not A Panacea

Consumers may be excited about the future benefits of brands’ use of technology, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have deeply held fears about its potential drawbacks, too.

For example, fully 84% strongly or somewhat agreed that they’re fearful that their personal data is not secure. Given recent revelations about data leakage at Facebook, these fears aren’t unfounded.

More than 7 in 10 consumers also worry that customer service representatives won’t be people anymore. There have been pieces of research that have found hesitancy on the part of consumers to deal with purely AI-driven customer service interactions.

Function Over Activism?

Some 55% of respondents in the US agree that they expect brands to take a stand on important issues. And that was easily the lowest rate of agreement of the 8 countries, with 87% in South Africa on the high end, and no fewer than two-thirds of respondents in other countries agreeing.

Even so, people are more likely to support a brand that has a high level of functionality than one with a high level of purpose.

Asked to rate their support on a 9-point scale, with 1 being a completely purpose-driven brand and 9 being a completely functional one, 39% of respondents in the US skewed towards functionality (7,8, or 9) while just 9% tilted towards purpose (1,2, or 3).

Still, it’s worth noting that most people want a mix of both functionality and activism: a slight majority (53%) of respondents in the US chose a 4,5, or 6 on the scale, meaning that they’re about equally as likely to support a brand that has a high level of purpose/participates in activism as one with a high level of functionality/provides personal effectiveness.

More results and takeaways are available in this white paper [pdf].

About the Data: The results are based on a survey of roughly 27,000 consumers and B2B decision-makers from 8 countries: US; UK; South Africa; China; Singapore; India; Germany; and Australia. Respondents were queried about 8 categories: Health & Wellness; Prescription Health; Food & Beverage; Finance & Banking; Automotive; Computing Devices; Smart Home; and Business Tech Solutions (these were the B2B decision-makers).

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