Consumers want better brand experiences

New Salesforce data reveals 43% of Canadians want brands to transform how they engage with them.

Brand experiences continue to grow in influence, with 84% of consumers all over the world saying they are as important as the good and services a company provides, according to the third State of the Connected Customer report by Salesforce.

The report, a double-blind survey of 8,000 consumers and business buyers globally, including 535 Canadians, examined the role of trust and the influence of corporate values on buying decisions.

The number of global respondents who say the experience a brand provides is as important as its goods and services has grown to 84%, up 4% since 2018. And 73% of respondents say that a positive brand experience raises expectations of competitors. What’s more, 66% of respondents are willing to put their money where their mouth is, and pay more for such a positive experience.

Direct-to-consumer models are preferred by younger generations, according to Salesforce’s findings, and 73% of consumers expect to be able to buy directly from a brand as well as from a retailer, which is changing the landscape. Today, 58% of Gen Zers and millennials buy at least one product directly from a brand on a regular basis, compared with only 39% of boomers, and 53% of them expect to buy more products directly from brands in the future, compared with 34% of boomers.

The report also includes Canadian specific insights, at least one of which should give marketers pause: 43% of Canadian respondents say brands need to transform how they engage with their customers.

In short, Canadians are expecting companies to engage with them digitally, with 64% saying they expect companies to use new technologies to create better experiences. However, there is a trust disconnect with certain technologies such as AI, where only 35% of respondents expect companies to use the tech in a way that benefits them. And when it comes to data security, Canadians are skeptical. Only 32% believe companies care about it.

Moreover, the survey delves into Canadians’ expectations regarding communications with brands.

While 70% of Canadians “expect companies to communicate with me in real time,” 60% say they would rather use self-service for simple questions about a product or service rather than voice communication. When they do communicate with brands,  53% of Canadian customers say it “generally feels like they’re communicating with separate departments, not one company.”

Finally, the report identifies a number of differences across generations when it comes to their preferred communication channels. For example, 45% of Gen Zers and millennials prefer online or live support versus 19% of Boomers. Meanwhile, 38% of the young segment prefers using mobile apps versus the 10% of Boomers. A quarter of the Gen Z and millennial population seek out online communities like Reddit or Amazon, while only 14% of Boomers do so. Voice assistants round out the bottom, at 16% and 9%, respectively.