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Find growth by adapting to new breed of digital consumers: study

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Growth is within the grasp of global businesses who adapt to the way that the behaviour of connected customers is changing, a new report suggests.

Accenture’s Energising Global Growth: Understanding the changing consumer report says companies must respond to connected customers demand to be able to buy when and where they want.

In a survey, Accenture questioned 10,000 consumers and 600 business executives in 10 countries on five continents. It found that 73% of consumers said they researched or bought over the internet more than they had five years before. Social media is also increasing in importance as a tool in the process.

Some 68% said it was important for them to be able to buy what they wanted, when they wanted it, while 63% wanted to be able to customise the product or service to be exactly as they wanted. More than half (51%) said they would consider the environmental impact of a product before buying, more than they did three years before.

But while 73% of business executives saw a marked change in the last three years, 74% said they did not fully understand what those changes were, and 80% said their companies were not taking full advantage of the opportunities.

Accenture recommended that businesses invest in advanced analytics able to analyse the big data, while also adopted the strategic mindset required to recognise and adapt to disruptive consumer change and competitive threats. Flexible organisational models would also allow companies to be more agile.

The biggest changes in behaviour were in emerging markets, found the report, with 62% of those in emerging markets likely to interacted with companies online, compared to 25% in developed markets. Environmental and social impacts of buying decisions concerns were also more important to those in emerging markets (64% vs 32%).

Mark Spelman, a managing director at Accenture, said that many companies expected to outgrow their domestic markets in coming years.

“Many of the opportunities generated by changing consumer behaviour will replace, rather than add to, existing revenues,” said Spelman. “Proactive and agile companies look set to seize market share in slow-growth markets. Incumbent companies face a real risk of being displaced by these new competitive threats unless they focus on enhancing their understanding of consumer behaviour.”

Our view: This report has useful food for thought for anyone wondering how their business can avoid going the same way as Jessops, HMV or Blockbusters in an increasingly digital world. It’s time to evolve, argues this report, which points out that doing so can help generate growth. As we’ve seen from the example of these retailers, not evolving to meet the digital revolution can prove fatal.

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