5 key takeaways from Adobe’s Consumer Experience Expectations Survey 2019

As mar­keters, we’re con­stant­ly being told that younger gen­er­a­tions are more demand­ing when it comes to how they expe­ri­ence their favourite brands. As dig­i­tal-natives, they’ve become so desen­si­tised to the banal and monot­o­nous expe­ri­ences churned out and blared in front of their faces on a dai­ly basis, that only the most con­sis­tent, emo­tive, and trans­par­ent brand expe­ri­ences are like­ly to encour­age them to loosen their purse strings.

Yet how do their per­cep­tions of tech­nol­o­gy and brand expe­ri­ences dif­fer from those with those with, iron­i­cal­ly, more expe­ri­ence them­selves? Do old­er con­sumers real­ly pre­fer human inter­ac­tion above any­thing else, shrink­ing away from any­thing vague­ly resem­bling a screen? And how can tech­nol­o­gy be used to com­ple­ment and cre­ate mem­o­rable and last­ing expe­ri­ences, regard­less of your age?

Across dif­fer­ent regions and age groups, Adobe’s Expe­ri­ence Index: Con­sumer Expe­ri­ence Expec­ta­tions Sur­vey pro­vides a fas­ci­nat­ing snap­shot in the habits, pref­er­ences, and per­cep­tions of con­sumers. Results were mea­sured against four tenets of the con­sumer expe­ri­ence; know me and respect me, delight me at every turn, make tech­nol­o­gy trans­par­ent, and speak in one voice. Here are some of the key takeaways.

  1. Shop­pers will ditch a brand fol­low­ing a bad experience

From the research, it’s clear that the con­sumer expe­ri­ence in Europe has been found want­i­ng. Fol­low­ing a bad expe­ri­ence, one in three con­sumers from France and the UK say they’ll nev­er buy from a com­pa­ny again.

Con­sumers cite an over­com­pli­cat­ed or time-con­sum­ing pur­chase process as their biggest turn off, with shop­pers from France (50%), the UK (43%), and Ger­many (41%) also like­ly to aban­don their online shop­ping cart fol­low­ing a neg­a­tive experience.

These frus­tra­tions are like­ly to man­i­fest them­selves even fur­ther as peo­ple spread the word, with over a third (36%) of peo­ple across the UK, France, and Ger­many like­ly to dis­cuss a poor brand expe­ri­ence with friends or family.

So, what‘s turn­ing con­sumers off their favourite brands? Accord­ing to the research, above all else, con­sumers want their ser­vices to be high­ly per­son­alised, with over two-thirds of shop­pers across France, Ger­many, and the UK demand­ing a per­son­al ser­vice, regard­less of whether it’s online or in-store.

How­ev­er, there’s a wor­ry­ing dis­con­nect between what con­sumers expect and what they’re actu­al­ly expe­ri­enc­ing: they rate their aver­age con­sumer expe­ri­ence a con­cern­ing 50% in France and Ger­many, and 54% in the UK. Their biggest gripes include com­pli­cat­ed web­sites, lack of open com­mu­ni­ca­tion, and fail­ure to sat­is­fy returns policies.

  1. Real-life expe­ri­ences spark most delight, while cus­tomer ser­vice and antic­i­pa­tion of infor­ma­tion must improve

Those brands cre­at­ing immer­sive and emo­tive expe­ri­ences in real life, delight­ing con­sumers at every turn, are undoubt­ed­ly those who will sur­vive and thrive over the com­ing years.

The most pos­i­tive expe­ri­ences that are wow­ing and delight­ing con­sumers include muse­um apps that use aug­ment­ed real­i­ty dur­ing tours, loy­al­ty pro­grammes that proac­tive­ly send out test prod­ucts to val­ued cus­tomers, and home retail­er apps that use voice acti­va­tion tech­nol­o­gy to help shop­pers locate items quick­ly and eas­i­ly in-store.

From these exam­ples, it’s clear an ‘expe­ri­ence’ can’t just be defined by a pos­i­tive face-to-face inter­ac­tion with an employ­ee (although this is impor­tant), but is instead dri­ven by a rich and lay­ered under­stand­ing of the cus­tomer, unlocked and enhanced by the pow­er of tech­nol­o­gy and data.

And speak­ing of cus­tomer ser­vice, across all regions and indus­tries sur­veyed, cus­tomer ser­vice and antic­i­pa­tion of infor­ma­tion con­sis­tent­ly rank as the most-maligned expe­ri­ences that con­sumers encounter.

Also, the most high­ly-crit­i­cised indus­try for cus­tomer ser­vice and antic­i­pa­tion of infor­ma­tion is media and enter­tain­ment, with France being the most damming, rat­ing cus­tomer ser­vice at 49% and antic­i­pa­tion of infor­ma­tion at 45%. The biggest pain points for cus­tomers include hid­den fees from online ser­vices, slow-load­ing con­tent, and poor per­son­alised suggestions.

  1. Peo­ple are less awed by tech­nol­o­gy devel­op­ments, encour­ag­ing brands to con­tin­u­al­ly innovate

As future inno­va­tions inch clos­er to real­i­ty, peo­ple are less impressed with tech­no­log­i­cal advance­ments than they were a year ago. Just look at super­mar­ket chain Sainsbury’s, who opened the UK’s first till-free store in Lon­don ear­li­er this month, with shop­pers rely­ing exclu­sive­ly on their smart­phone to scan, track, and pay for their items. Smart stores expe­ri­enced the most notable drop in excite­ment, with its ‘impressed’ score drop­ping by an aver­age of 6.3% across Ger­many, the UK, and France.

Oth­er inno­v­a­tive expe­ri­ences that have decreased in their abil­i­ty to daz­zle con­sumers include smart pre­scrip­tion bot­tles, synced vehi­cles touch screens at dri­ve-throughs, and auto­mat­ed inter­ac­tions with governments.

While it’s under­stand­able that the clos­er inno­va­tions come to real­i­ty, the less they’d impress peo­ple, it does encour­age brands to keep pur­su­ing cre­ative and inven­tive ways to improve their con­sumer expe­ri­ence. And just because these expe­ri­ences are less impres­sive than a year ago, it doesn’t mean they’re not suc­cess­ful. Sales of smart pill box­es and bot­tles are expect­ed to surge to around 800,000 dur­ing 2019, while Deloitte pre­dicts automa­tion of admin­is­tra­tive and oper­a­tive tasks (includ­ing pub­lic inter­ac­tions) could save the UK Gov­ern­ment $17 bil­lion by 2030.

  1. Old­er con­sumers crave human inter­ac­tion, but atti­tude towards tech­nol­o­gy is mixed

It should come as no sur­prise that old­er con­sumers pre­fer their brand expe­ri­ences to be guid­ed by face-to-face com­mu­ni­ca­tion, rather than by a com­put­er – regard­less of region. After all, the major­i­ty of their expe­ri­ences have been defined by human inter­ac­tion, and the prospect of rely­ing on a face­less machine to guide their dig­i­tal jour­ney can prove a far from appeal­ing prospect.

How­ev­er, while younger peo­ple in the UK recog­nise the impor­tance tech­nol­o­gy will play in improv­ing our lives (with 74% in agree­ment), in Ger­many, it’s actu­al­ly those aged 65 and over who are most inclined to cel­e­brate the poten­tial of tech­no­log­i­cal inno­va­tion (67% com­pared to 56% of 18–24 year-olds).