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To see the original publication of this article visit Franchising USA.
It’s been quite the year. 2020 has forced everyone to rethink their priorities, and while the pandemic is still with us, consumers have been forced to adapt and many of these changes will remain going forward. As we head into 2021 and with COVID-19 still top-of-mind, Matthew Gourgeot of Thryv is sharing three consumer trends to watch out for in the new year and giving advice on how to adapt to each.
The Digital Acceleration of Baby Boomers
COVID-19 has been an accelerant of digital trends, particularly with baby boomers who were born between 1946 and 1964. A recent Wall Street Journal article cited a pandemic study by Mobiquity showing there has been a 47% increase in the number of baby boomers ordering delivery from a restaurant through a website or app; a 193% increase in the number ordering groceries through a website or app; and a 469% increase in the number who had used telemedicine. In the same study, 9 out of 10 boomer respondents said they’ll continue to use such technologies after the pandemic ends.
It’s really important for franchise businesses to recognize these shifts, as the majority of the wealth in the United States still sits with the baby boomer generation. Providing a digital, yet simplified experience for this group will be crucial as we head into 2021.
Customer Experience is Number One
Customer experience has overtaken product and price as the most important brand differentiator. Consumers will stay loyal to a company based on the experience they receive and that experience must be personalized to drive growth and retention. Franchise systems must examine their companies’ customer journey and remove all friction or they risk losing that customer’s loyalty. In 2021, customers are going to demand that your operation is seamless, and their experience exceeds expectations, or they’ll take their business elsewhere. Achieving an optimal customer experience can be accomplished by utilizing the right CRM technologies and marketing automation tools that best fit your particular business operations.
Consumers have become more aware of a brand’s social and ethical values and that trend is expected to increase in 2021. Ideally, customers want to patronize businesses that care about their employees and make efforts to improve the local communities in which they operate. Franchisors and franchisees need to be transparent with their customers on this topic and share the work they’re doing through social media, e-blasts, blog posts and other channels. Earlier this year, an Aflac study found that “77% of consumers say they would be more willing to purchase a company’s products or services if the company demonstrates a commitment to addressing social, economic and environmental issues.” The franchising community is a diverse network that has given people from all walks of life a shot at the American dream. The industry and its businesses have a duty to deliver on their brand promises and foster meaningful connections within their local communities that deliver impactful changes.
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