Meeting and exceeding customers’ needs and expectations is a prerequisite for achieving and maintaining long-term success in business. If you don’t know what your audience wants and expects from you, you won’t be able to meet these demands and customers will waste no time in finding another company that does.
Unfortunately, getting into the mind of the consumer is a lot more difficult today than it was merely a decade or two ago when conducting a simple survey was all it took to identify their needs. That’s because consumer behaviors are changing faster than ever before. As market research specialists at Savanta US point out, we live in a world of overwhelming complexity where we’re constantly inundated with information on all sides. The modern consumer is much more complex and volatile, so brands often find themselves struggling to keep up with their shifting habits and preferences.
The factors that are driving change in consumer behavior
The average entrepreneur recognizes the reality of the rapidly shifting consumer behavior and does their best to win the race against customer expectations. The smart entrepreneur will go one step further and dig deeper to find out what’s fueling this fast-paced change. So, what’s behind this curious phenomenon? As various research and studies show, there are multiple factors that drive customers to change their minds faster than businesses can adapt.
According to a study conducted by Accenture, inflation and market volatility seem to play a very important role. 72% of consumers cite rising inflation as having a big impact on their purchase decisions. At the same time, half of respondents reported they have less money to spend on goods and services. As a result, they are not only forced to limit their spending but they also have to reassess their shopping habits by focusing on finding better deals. Making use of digital tools to compare prices and providers or take advantage of discounts has become common practice for most Millennials and Gen Zers.
People nowadays are also more preoccupied with environmental preservation than previous generations. A new survey reveals that the public’s attitude on issues such as increasing pollution, climate change and global warming has changed in recent years, with 73% of consumers becoming more mindful of their impact on the environment. The growing environmental awareness is reflected in people’s purchasing habits as they tend to prioritize brands that align with their eco-friendly values and principles.
Then there’s also the transition toward a hybrid lifestyle that was accelerated by the global pandemic. The restrictive measures that were implemented during the health crisis have sped up digital transformation in all areas of life. There was a massive shift toward online shopping as people could no longer go out and purchase the products and services they required in person. Even after the pandemic subsided, online shopping rates remained high, with over 33% of adults stating they go to brick-and-mortar stores less often than before.
Keeping up with the ever-increasing pace of change
Since we’re living in an increasingly hectic world, it’s pretty obvious that consumer habits will continue to evolve at a fast pace in the future, so what can businesses do to keep up with this challenge? First of all, it has to be said that there’s no one-size-fits-all solution that can help businesses create an excellent customer experience given that each company is different and their audience is different as well. However, there are certain practices that all entrepreneurs should adhere to if they want to keep up with customers’ ever-changing behavior and preferences.
Being a good listener is a virtue, both in personal life and in business. Sometimes that’s all it takes to identify customer pain points and figure out what they want from you. Obviously, in the business world, listening is done differently and it usually implies having a good feedback system in place. Customers appreciate companies that are willing to listen to what they have to say, so it’s not difficult to get them to share their thoughts and feelings on the products and services you provide. But the key is to collect data from your audience constantly through an automated, otherwise, you might miss out on some crucial information.
Keeping a close eye on the sales process is also a great way to stay on top of changing trends in consumer behavior and respond accordingly. Even if you have managed to build a great sales team, as an entrepreneur this is one of those tasks that require your direct implication. This solution will help you figure out what’s working and what’s not and adapt your strategy based on your customers’ needs and preferences.
You also need to know that experience doesn’t always translate into wisdom. As a versed entrepreneur, you may think you already know everything there is to know about your niche and audience, and that can prevent you from seeing what’s right in front of you. Even after years of working in an industry, you still need to put in the work and effort to get to know your customers, so you can identify changes early on. When it comes to meeting customer demands, it truly pays off to stay humble and involved.
Lastly, building a customer-centric culture for your company can make it infinitely easier for you to keep up with the sifting customer behavior. By putting the customer at the center of all your business efforts, even the slightest change in customer preference becomes easily noticeable. This will also save you the trouble of having to hire a research company to help you identify trends in consumer behavior.
Regardless of industry or niche, it’s not easy to make and keep your customers happy, and things are getting more complicated by the day. However, if you keep your eyes and ears open and you take the time to analyze customer behavior and the factors that influence their decision, you’ll be able to keep track of important changes and thus make smarter business decisions.