As the novel coronavirus continues to spread, a few customer behavior trends have grown out of the pandemic, changing everything for enterprises and their customers. What does this mean for PR professionals like yourself?
For one, companies need a robust communication strategy that acknowledges these changing trends. This will help them earn the trust and loyalty of customers and ensure that their business continues to thrive through the pandemic and beyond.
Secondly, we’ve learned that brand building is not just about promoting products but also building consumer trust and engaging the audience. Hence, PR pros need to get better at listening to and understanding customers. This means that your role will soon surpass managing brand reputation and enter into leading the firm’s customer service efforts.
As PR professionals continue to navigate the uncertain times, you need to consider the changing customer behavior trends when crafting strategies for 2021. In this post, you’ll find five customer behavior trends that we think will impact the PR industry in the coming years. Use these insights to optimize your communications and strategies to best serve your target customer.
Top 5 Customer Behaviors That Are Likely to Affect PR
1. Customers Are Open to Try New Technologies
Customers are willing to leverage new technologies like artificial intelligence, augmented reality, virtual reality, and others to experience products outside the store before they commit to a brand. With multiple restrictions that brick-and-mortars now have to face, these technologies are more important than ever – and many brands are well-aware of it.
IKEA, for example, has an augmented reality app that allows users to test their products in their own homes. The technology allows the app to automatically scale products based on the room dimensions with 98 percent accuracy. Similarly, Warby Parker’s new AR feature allows customers to try on glasses (Virtual Try-On) before purchasing them.
Such tech-powered personalized experiences seem to work with customers. On the other hand, it helps businesses better understand customer behavior and preferences. Investing in cutting-edge technologies allows them to stand out from the crowd and keep attracting customers, even during these difficult times.
As a result, the most successful PR campaigns of 2021 are likely to be the ones that will truly embrace new technologies and do everything to show up at their customers’ doors instead of asking them to visit brick-and-mortar stores.
2. The Need for Humanizing Digital Connections Is Increasing
Ever since COVID-19 hit us, everyone’s been spending more of their time on the Internet. Being stuck at home, people increased their dependence on digital technology as a medium to connect with others and entertain themselves.
Customers are seeing more clicks than bricks, whether it’s for shopping or socializing. Websites and social pages have replaced stores. One of the major shortcomings of this digital transformation is the loss of personal touch.
In this era of digitization, customers expect brands not to lose the human touch and offer personalized digital experiences. People don’t buy brands but the human face behind them. PR and communication professionals should recognize this change in customer behavior and work towards humanizing online connections.
For instance, organizing online events is one way of allowing customers to discover and engage with your brand. Virtual product launches (Color Up & Debra Locker Group), trivia nights (BROOKSIDE Chocolate & She Does the City) or PR kits delivered straight to influencers’ doors (Pastificio di Luigi & SMC Communications) are just a few examples.
3. Live Streaming Is Here to Stay
Live streaming or live videos has taken the social world by storm. By the end of this year, live streaming is expected to account for 82 percent of all internet traffic. Live streaming has emerged as one of the most effective ways to reach and engage an audience.
Customers are looking for brands that are authentic and trustworthy. They expect brands to be real and transparent with their communications. Live streaming allows brands to cater to this changing customer behavior. It enables them to show customers the real faces and processes behind making a brand. Live streaming allows genuine interactions, enabling brands to build a strong relationship with their audiences.
80 percent of a brand’s audience prefers watching live videos from the brand over reading a blog or a social post. In 2019 alone, 1.1 billion hours of live video content was consumed, pointing towards its popularity among internet users.
Moreover, live streaming provides PR and communication professionals like yourself with a cost-effective and potent solution to share brand content. For instance, you can use this feature to organize press conferences and events, and share behind-the-scenes content, while promoting realness, authenticity, and transparency.
In the coming years, live streaming will emerge as a strong PR tool. PR professionals looking to build an audience and boost their brand credibility should recognize this change in customer behavior and ride on the live streaming bandwagon.
4. Consumers Are Willing to Share Data with the Brands They Trust
Every organization wanting to improve customer experiences or improve its targeted marketing efforts are trying to get their customer to open up about their data. Fortunately, consumers are more willing than ever to share it – but it’s not a given!
A survey published on Marketing Land points to this customer behavior trend. It shares that 58 percent of customers will share personal information under the right circumstances. In other words, they will share data if they trust the brand and see a clear value exchange. In fact, trust is the number one reason why customers would part with their data.
This customer behavior trend looks like good news for marketers and PR professionals. The more data you have, the better campaigns you can craft. All you need is joint efforts with marketing sales, and customer support teams, who often use CRM software to organize customer data and make the most of it. You can then use this information for your own purposes.
Speaking of CRM tools – did you know that you can also use a dedicated PR CRM for press contact management?
5. Customers Are Moving to Value-Based Spending
The pandemic and other movements like Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ rights, and #MeToo among others have changed the way customers spend their money. They are looking to buy from companies that represent their beliefs and are vocal about or support a social, environmental, cultural, and political cause.
A recent online survey by Certus showed that 70 percent of customers want to know whether the brand they support is committed to their social responsibilities. Another research by Accenture revealed that 63 percent of customers globally prefer to buy goods and services from companies that stand for a shared purpose.
This data is enough to learn that showing transparency and authenticity are becoming increasingly important for businesses. Customers are constantly wanting to identify themselves with company values and using this information to decide whether they want to associate with them or not.
PR and communications leaders should pay attention to this increasing customer behavior trend and emphasize what the organization is doing to stir a change in the industry and the community as a whole. Such efforts are likely to earn you goodwill and foster a trustworthy relationship with customers and other stakeholders.
The pandemic has changed the way every industry operates. But most of all, it has taught the PR realm that a strong customer-centric communications and PR strategy is key to staying afloat. Hence, PR pros must invest time and energy in understanding the customer and their buying behavior.
The customer behavior trends shared in this post are here to stay! Incorporate them into your PR and communications strategies to win the trust and loyalty of your customers, now and beyond the pandemic.
Cover photo by Lala Azizli