New Adobe research: Consumers expect even better experiences when economic conditions worsen


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Readers of my articles will know by now that I love a good bit of research.

This is for two reasons:

  • One, I love discovering new insights into customer behaviour and what it takes to deliver great service and a stand-out customer experience (CX), and
  • Two, because new insights can often act as a good jumping-off point for additional analysis.

So, I was pleased to hear that Adobe have recently been conducting some research of their own, and they have just released it at their Adobe EMEA Summit, which took place in London on June 8th and 9th.

The research is based on two studies that surveyed the views of over 4,000 marketing and customer experience professionals and more than 13,000 consumers across 14 countries from February to May of this year. The aim of the research was to identify a roadmap for the profitable growth of brands amidst continuing economic uncertainty.

That uncertainty was brought into sharp focus in early June when news emerged that Germany, the biggest economy in the European region, has just fallen into recession. Sources cite that high prices for food, clothing and furniture are depressing consumer demand but also that higher energy prices are having a negative impact on industrial demand too.

As a result, the timing and focus of the research couldn’t be more timely.

Here are the headlines of the research:

  • Half of the consumers (50%) surveyed said that they expect even better experiences from brands when economic conditions become more challenging. This is compared to only 14% that said their expectations tend to decrease when economic conditions get worse.
  • Drilling into the research, Gen Z and Millennial consumers are even more expectant, with 65% reporting that in tough economic times, their customer experience expectations are higher.
  • However, that doesn’t mean that consumers just want lower prices. When asked to identify the best formula for keeping their loyalty during these straitened times, here’s the ranking they produced:
    • 1. “A Balanced Approach” – balancing profitability, customer experience, and corporate responsibility needs.
    • 2. “Focus On Customer Experience” – deprioritize all other factors to make their experiences amazing, and
    • 3. “Offer Absolute Lowest Prices” – deprioritize everything else to ensure they get the lowest price.
  • When asked about their views regarding the use of artificial intelligence in delivering a better customer experience, 34% of consumers stated that brands should prioritise areas like having guardrails and protecting creators’ intellectual property, and 32% of consumers reported that they believed that brands should prioritize the use of generative AI to improve the customer experience.
  • On building trust, consumers ranked keeping customer data safe and using it in line with their expectations as the number one way that brands can build and maintain trust.
  • However, they also want to do business with brands that operate sustainably, with 82% of all consumers saying they will decrease spending with brands they don’t think care about the environment.
  • And, finally, weighing on the employee experience, 85% of consumers say they will decrease their spending with brands, with 29% going so far as to say they will refuse to spend any money at all with those brands, that don’t invest in making their workplaces, products and services accessible for as many people as possible.

I don’t know about you, but I think there are some fascinating results and insights in there.

Prior to the release of the research and in the run-up to the Adobe EMEA summit, I had a chance to speak to Luc Dammann, EMEA President at Adobe. Commenting on the research, he told me: “Competition for share of wallet has intensified as digital-first spending habits, economic conditions and new ethical priorities transform customer expectations.” He went on to say that “Today’s businesses must do more with less, differentiating themselves by delivering more intuitive and relevant customer experiences that add value, build trust and loyalty, and drive profitable growth. These are the keys to experience-led growth.”

For me, the message from consumers is emphatic ….focusing on delivering a standout and personalised experience has never been more important, even as economic conditions remain tight for many. But, if you are going to do then do so in a responsible and sustainable way.

However, that takes vision, investment and commitment.

Adobe’s own experience of working with brands that, despite economic uncertainty, continue to invest in experience-led growth and to deliver personalisation at scale show that those that do are achieving a 242% Return On Investment (ROI) on their CX investments and are growing, on average, 36% faster than their peers.

If you are a brand and want to lead and grow.

Then you know what to do.

This post was originally published on
Credit: Photo by Nik on Unsplash

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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