There’s no question 2020 was a different year…with the pandemic, lockdowns, and closure of public venues, things shifted quite a bit. In addition, consumer safety concerns reshaped their habits from traditional retail to online shopping, curbside pickups, etc. Finally, financial and employment concerns shook up consumer loyalty to top brands as they were looking to save costs.
With all that was and still is going on, we’re taking our best guess at the top 3 predictions for consumer insights in 2021 and how the Consumer Insights industry will evolve to respond to all these shifts in trends.
Sentiment Analysis of eCommerce Ratings and Reviews will become the top source of intelligence for brands.
With eCommerce booming in 2020 and expected to leap 30-40% year over year, there is no question brands focus heavily on online sales via marketplaces and retailers as well as D2C. For example, for results-driven by digital commerce investments, NIKE Brand digital grew 84% on average in the quarter that ended in Nov. 2020. US digital sales of NIKE were up triple digits!!! The future is here….., and it’s online.
The biggest driver to eCommerce sales is credibility, and credibility is gained via peer reviews. According to research, 91% of people read them, and 84% trust them as much as they trust a personal recommendation. Another research shows that the average customer is willing to spend 31% more with a retailer with great reviews.
Ratings and reviews matter to consumers as they are written by verified customers and are detailed in nature:
- Store-specific (Commenting on the specific experience within one online store)
- Low ratio of noise-to-insights (Low “chatter,” unlike social media)
- High level of granularity (Detailed feedback)
We believe that as brands go deeper into D2C and eCommerce, they will need to invest more in sentiment analysis of ratings and reviews to understand the consumer feedback in their industry. There is no better way than this to listen in at scale to thousands and thousands of consumers voicing their post-purchase feedback on your products/customer service/shopping experience, or your competitors.
Timely competitive intelligence will become top of mind as consumer loyalty declines.
Consumer loyalty took a hit in 2020 as consumers were prioritizing safety and availability over-familiarity. According to McKinsey, 75% of US consumers are trying a new shopping behavior in response to economic pressures and changing priorities. 36% of consumers tried a new brand, and 25% are buying a new private-label brand. Of those who tried different brands, 73% intend to continue to buy the new brands.
The only way for brands to stay competitive in an environment where loyalty is declining is to accelerate – respond faster to consumer shifts in taste, respond faster to new products and features, respond faster to disruptive brands…
It seems obtaining competitive analytics is challenging. Today, most existing methods take weeks to months to deliver results. They are typically based on some manual effort – for example, customer satisfaction surveys, focus groups (online and offline), competitive benchmarks, etc.
When wanting to shrink response times, accelerate product releases, and announce improved customer service, you need timely intelligence the most.
This means digital solutions that rely on AI rather than on human experts or manual labor. In essence, we’re looking for the equivalent of the radar in airplanes – looking around us and telling us what changes at any point in time.
We have already seen top brands putting together a digital hub combining omnichannel feedback into an automated sentiment analysis solution that can surface trends regularly with alerts to notable events like a new product launch or a sharp shift in sentiment towards a brand or a product.
With this type of radar, you can navigate the highly competitive consumer waters in 2021.
Consumer Insights and Customer Experience will become a team effort.
As consumers buy more online, have more options, and are less loyal, brands to win and stay competitive need to step up their game overall. Every department makes an impact, and eventually, that impact is captured online via eCommerce ratings and reviews sentiment.
“Great product but was out of stock for a while, and even after it was available again shipping took longer than promised” – how many reviews likes this is needed to bring down a product star ratings and later sales?
It’s the total experience – product, shopping, service, packaging, instructions, etc. that controls your ratings online, which eventually controls your sales.
For brands to stay competitive, they need as many departments as possible to stay connected to the customer feedback and customer experience.
If before, brands could use a centralized Consumer Insights department and departments could stand in line for insights, sometimes waiting weeks or months for these – now this doesn’t cut it anymore. Departments need their direct line to insights to run independently and respond in real-time to threats and mistakes.
In this new era, brands will prefer consumer insights solutions that are:
- Self-service – no need for experts or mediators
- Easy to use by business users
- Provide alerts into key events
- Allows easy sharing of insights across teams
With this type of technology, teams can run like crazy to win instead of constantly being behind their competitors.
2020 and the pandemic is forcing brands to a new look at how they are listening to consumers at scale. These are exciting times that call on the latest and greatest technologies in consumer insights to fulfill the need for speed. The brands that will win markets will be the ones that respond the fasters to trends, threats, and mistakes.
Simone Somekh is a New York-based writer and editor who specializes in marketing and communications for B2B SaaS companies. He teaches Communications at Touro College and he is the author of an award-winning novel published in four languages.