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The Future Consumer: 3 Emerging Trends for your 2024 Marketing Plan

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If the customer is always right, the first step is understanding them – truly understanding them.

In this blog, we’ll be diving deep into the three key trends that Accenture expect will change the way people experience and interact with brands, organisations, governments and systems in 2024.

These trends are reshaping the landscape of customer interaction and expectation, influencing how they think, feel, and most importantly, buy.

Let’s dive in!

Where is the Love? Balancing Cost and Customer Satisfaction

“Companies should find a way to balance cost and profit without passing the price increase onto the consumer.”

– Yaotao / aged 30-39, China, Accenture Life Trends Survey, August 2023
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In today’s economy, we’re all feeling the pinch. But when businesses start cutting costs, it’s often the customer experience that takes the first hit. Think smaller portions, less staff, longer wait times. It’s understandable, but risky. Why? Because customers start feeling less valued, and that’s a fast track to losing their trust and loyalty.

So, how do you keep your customers loyal during tough times?

It’s all about the experience. Sure, your product or service matters, but it’s the whole package that counts. Small gestures can make a big difference.

47% of customers feel less valued when they face difficulty reaching or talking to unsupportive customer service agents.

This statistic highlights the importance of not just the product or service but the entire customer service experience. In an age where customer service can be the differentiator between brands, ensuring that your customer service is empathetic, responsive, and effective is crucial.

Real Life Inspirations:

  • Dove: Dove is renowned for its Self Esteem Project and campaigns promoting body confidence. Beyond their product quality, Dove’s commitment to mission and purpose demonstrates how a brand can excel in customer experience by aligning with values that resonate with their audience.
  • Four Seasons Hotels: Four Seasons Hotels is highlighted for creating excellent customer experiences. They are known for their exceptional staff and service, showcasing the importance of investing in customer service to enhance overall brand perception and loyalty.
  • Kia: Kia has been delighting consumers with positive experiences both in their dealerships and with their vehicles. This indicates Kia’s focus on providing a quality customer experience at every touchpoint, from the showroom to the product itself.

What you can do:

  • Focus on Value, Not Just Cost: Even small gestures or improvements in service can make your customers feel valued. It’s not always about the price.
  • Communicate Openly: Be transparent with your customers about changes. Honesty builds trust.
  • Invest in Experience: A great customer experience is more than just the product. It’s about how your customers feel when they interact with your business.

The Great Interface Shift… Embracing AI for Enhanced Interactions

“I see that with the new AI there are new ways of working, new ways of researching and new ways of discovering the world.”

– Pedro / aged 22-29, Brazil, Accenture Life Trends Survey, August 2023
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Welcome to the future of online interaction, where AI has completely moved the goalposts.

We’re moving from the traditional ‘click and search’ to a world where AI helps us communicate our needs more personally. For businesses, this shift presents a golden opportunity to make every customer feel like they’re your only customer, with responses that are tailored just for them.

But even just thinking about AI can be a bit overwhelming, right?

The good news is that you don’t have to dive in headfirst. Start with something simple, like a chatbot on your website that answers basic questions. It’s like having a helpful assistant who’s always there, ready to chat with your customers, day or night. This way, you’re not just keeping up with the big players; you’re playing the game your way, with a personal touch.

Now, you might be thinking, ‘Won’t AI make my business feel less human?’

Not at all! It’s all about balance.

Let AI take care of the routine stuff, like answering common questions. This frees you up to jump in with that personal touch when it’s really needed. It’s like having a super-efficient team member who handles the groundwork, so you can focus on adding that human sparkle that makes your customers feel special.

42% are comfortable using conversational AI to find product recommendations.

This is a growing trend in consumer behavior, where AI is not just accepted but preferred for certain types of interactions. It underscores the importance for businesses to integrate AI into their customer service and sales strategies, adapting to this shift in consumer preferences.

Real Life Inspirations:

  • Customer Service in Banking: Financial institutions are increasingly using AI to transform customer service. AI-enabled customer service in banking is not just about deploying technology; it’s about creating a better service experience, higher satisfaction, and increasing customer engagement. This shows how AI can be used to make customer interactions more meaningful and personalised.
  • Personalised Retail Experiences: Retail brands are using AI for creating custom experiences, personalised emails, offers, and chatbots. This application of AI in retail enhances the entire customer experience, from improving interactions to customising offerings based on individual customer profiles and behaviours.
  • AI-enabled chatbots: These chatbots can initiate conversations, provide relevant answers, and assist throughout the customer lifecycle. They are particularly effective in streamlining online sales processes and resolving customer queries, offering 24/7 availability and the ability to transfer complex queries to human agents.

What you can do:

  • Humanise Your AI: Use AI to add a personal touch to your digital interactions. Think of AI as your digital ambassador, reflecting your brand’s personality.
  • Understand Your Customers: Dive into what your customers really want. Use AI to gather insights and tailor your online presence to their preferences.
  • Keep It Simple: While AI can be complex, your customer interactions shouldn’t be. Focus on creating clear, conversational exchanges that make your customers feel understood and valued.

Meh-diocrity: Standing Out in the Age of AI Content

“The lack of original content is frustrating; it’s just reboots and film series now. It’s become boring and seems lazy.”

– Matt / aged 22, UK / Accenture Life Trends survey, August 2023​

Feel like everything online is starting to look the same?

That’s the ‘Meh-diocrity’ effect.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of using AI to churn out content that blends into the background. But for businesses like yours, there’s a huge opportunity to stand out with something genuinely original.

AI is a fantastic tool, but it’s got a bit of a habit of making things look and sound similar. The real challenge for small businesses isn’t just to use AI, but to use it cleverly, by mixing its undeniable efficiency with the unique flair only you can bring. It’s best to think of AI as your assistant, not your replacement.

You can take this even further by blending AI’s power with your unique brand story. Use AI to handle the heavy lifting, like data analysis and basic content creation. Then, add your personal touch.

It could be your local knowledge, your personal service, or your unique brand voice. This is where your small business can really shine – by being boldly human in a digital world.

A striking statistic to consider: 35% of respondents find app designs indistinguishable across brands, with this number rising to nearly 40% among 18-to-24-year-olds. This trend underscores the importance of differentiating your brand in the digital space. In a world where AI-generated content and designs are becoming the norm, standing out requires a blend of technology and human creativity.

What you can do:

  • Use AI as a Tool, Not a Crutch: Let AI do the routine work, but always add your unique brand touch to make your content stand out.
  • Stay True to Your Brand: Use AI to enhance your brand’s voice, not drown it. Your authenticity is your biggest asset.
  • Keep Innovating: Experiment with how you can use AI creatively. It’s a rapidly evolving field, and there’s always a new way to surprise and delight your customers.

These trends offer a clear message: in the world of marketing, the consumer is king. By staying attuned to their needs and adapting your strategies accordingly, your business can not only keep up with the pace of change but can also lead the way in customer engagement and satisfaction.

As we look towards 2024, let these consumer-driven insights guide your marketing efforts. Embrace the opportunity to connect with your customers on a deeper level and create marketing strategies that not only meet but exceed their expectations. The future of marketing is being written by consumers, and it’s an exciting time to be part of this evolving narrative.

Ready to take your marketing to the next level in 2024?

We’re here to help you navigate these consumer-driven trends and turn them into successful strategies for your business. If you’re looking for guidance, support, or just a fresh perspective on how to make these insights work for you, reach out to us. Let’s start a conversation about how we can help your business thrive in the ever-evolving digital landscape.

Remember, in the world of marketing, staying ahead means staying connected – and we’re here to ensure you’re always one step ahead.

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