CONSUMERS FLEXING ONLINE MUSCLE
Businesses may be on the back foot from an increasi ngly evolved consumer whose access to technology has shrunk the world, accelerated the speed of change and shifted the balance of power their way. Innovation in the digital space means that we are worlds away from the time where it took 75 years for the telephone to reach 50m users. Recently it took little more than a month for Angry
Birds to reach that same number. Not only are consumers now potentially a step ahead of the businesses who chase them, but their expectations have also evolved to the degree that they require not only the engineering of great products, but an outstanding customer experience as well.
EY’s international survey Consumers on board: How to co-pilot the multichannel journey reveals how the behaviour of the smart consumer is evolving and the size and nature of the task that lies ahead if businesses are to prosper.
“Our previous report painted a picture of consumers who wanted products and services to be designed, sold, deliv- ered, serviced and purchased in a way that suits them. Today, they are even more knowledgeable and self-confident, doing more research before buying than ever before,” says Derek Engelbrecht, retail and consumer products sector leader at EY.
“Change on this scale demands attention. In the age of the smart consumer, it’s vital to realise that consumers consider themselves as ‘co-pilots’ when setting off with the intention of buying. We see evidence of active cooperation being offered in the development phase for new products in every category we looked at.”
Growth in the digital space means that the vast majority of people are now digital consumers, rational and adept at using technology to filter information and make purchasing decisions. Indian and Chinese Internet users are leading the way in buying online, with a 75% and 70% digital share respectively while South Africa comes in at 64%. This figure falls to 63% and 50% in the UK and the US respectively, with purchasing in-store generally more prevalent in mature markets.