Life Reimagined:

Mapping the motivations that matter for today’s consumers

Life Reimagined: How our values have changed

Life Reimagined: How our motivations are evolving

Life Reimagined: How our expectations are expanding

Reimagined consumers will abandon brands that don’t support their new values—and pay more to those that do.

The pandemic compelled consumers—en masse—to shift their expectations more rapidly and completely than we’ve seen at any other time in history. People looked inward, elevating concepts of relationships and responsibility and re-evaluating their priorities. Now, many of them are applying their new mindsets to where, what and how they buy. Through their purchase choices, they are purposefully seeking to influence their communities and the environment, and to confirm how they see themselves in the world.

Accenture’s recent survey of more than 25,000 consumers across 22 countries, with follow-up focus groups in five countries bears this out: A full 50% of consumers say that the pandemic caused them to rethink their personal purpose and re-evaluate what’s important to them in life. Forty-two percent say the pandemic made them realize they need to focus on others more than themselves. These consumers —we call them the “Reimagined”—are changing their buying habits accordingly across all 14 industries we covered. In doing so, they’re creating enormous opportunities for companies that respond by resetting strategies and setting new standards for meeting and exceeding their expectations.

Our research revealed preferences that are powerful enough to drive both brand switching (“should I stay?”) and willingness to spend more (“would I pay?”).

The Reimagined represent significant buying power


Reacting to the statement

“The pandemic made me totally revise my personal purpose and what is important for me in life”

Three divisions pie chart. Reimagined consumers (Agree+Strongly Agree): 50%, Evolving consumers (Unsure): 33%, Traditional Consumers (Disagree + Strongly Disagree: 17%.




Just 17% of consumers—those we call the “Traditional”—said they were unchanged by the pandemic. The remaining 33% have mindsets that are still evolving, but we believe that many of them, too, are shifting and—coupled with the Reimagined—represent an opportunity for companies to capture market share.

Discovering motivations beyond price or quality



Reimagined consumers: Who are they?
What stands out most about the Reimagined is not what makes them different, but what makes them the same. We discovered that the Reimagined don't have discernible—or presumptive—demographic distinctions. They are, in fact, a generally heterogenous group.

72%

of the Reimagined expect companies they’re doing business with to understand and address how their needs and objectives change during times of disruption—versus 27% of the Traditional.

50%

of the Reimagined say that many companies disappointed them by not providing enough support and understanding of their needs during challenging times—versus 14% of the Traditional.

In fact, although everyone had their own deeply personal experiences with and reaction to the pandemic, these consumers have mainstreamed purchasing considerations that were once peripheral, emerging and largely confined to demographic subsets.

While the disparities in the mindsets of consumers between countries could be explained by cultural differences, they also are an accurate representation of the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on some countries and indicate that consumer preferences will continue to evolve in waves, similar to the pandemic’s effects.

Meet the new motivations bar chart

Meet the new Motivations

Introducing the Rising Five

While price and quality have long been—and remain—the dominant motivations in consumers’ choice rationale, they have lessened in influence among Reimagined consumers. Among the Reimagined, 66% said they now expect brands to take more responsibility in motivating them to live by their values and to make them feel more relevant in the world, versus 16% of Traditional consumers.

We see this not just as a pandemic effect, but also as an inevitable long-term consequence of the shift to digital technologies informing and enabling purchases—accelerated by the pandemic. Consider how easily and quickly consumers can check prices on the internet and get a strong sense of the quality of an offering through recommendations and reviews.

Multiple platforms such as Amazon and Google have built this process into the fabric of consumers’ lives. When the pandemic elevated digital shopping to enable “touchless” shipping for daily necessities of life, for instance, the ability to cross-reference price and quality touched many more people with higher frequency. As a result, price and quality have become easy-to-check table stakes—still crucial, but not necessarily differentiators. Other motivations, by contrast, can stack more powerfully.

Among the Reimagined, our research reveals five distinct purchasing motivations oriented around the desire to feel better and have confidence in the products, services, and companies they patronize. These are: Health and safety; Service and personal care; Ease and convenience; Product origin; and Trust and reputation.

Consumers are asking: Are you keeping me and my neighbors safe? What about your employees?

After more than a year of social distancing, constant handwashing and wearing masks everywhere, consumers are highly attuned to the health and safety of any experience. The fact is, people everywhere have become safety-obsessed.

Health and Safety image

63%

of the Reimagined think it’s crucial that companies/brands actively promote healthy practices, versus 32% of the Traditional.



The Reimagined indicate that this priority will not go away after the pandemic is over; they want to be confident that every business will strive to be part of a health-oriented ecosystem that can overlay their lives.

We found that a majority of the Reimagined, and even a sizable portion of Traditional consumers, would switch to another brand if their health and safety needs were not addressed.

Health and Safety Chart Health and Safety Chart

Do you remember me? Are you making my experience with your brand as personal as it can be? Are you there for me when I need you?


Health and Safety image

72%

of the Reimagined expect companies they’re doing business with to understand how their needs and objectives change during times of disruption and address those needs, versus 27% of the Traditional.




And along with their increased online shopping, consumers expect more interaction with customer service. They would like to see faster response times and more respect for and attention to their individual needs or concerns.

Consumers who switched due to lagging customer service

Service and personal care Chart Service and personal care Chart


More than half of the Reimagined say they would switch brands if a brand doesn’t create clear and easy options for contacting customer service or provide clear responses about service levels related to pandemic or economic/societal issues.

We found this to be true for automotive dealers, banks, consumer goods, consumer electronics providers, healthcare providers, fixed (broadband) service providers, property and casualty insurance, retailers and travel companies.


Are you meeting me where I am, in the digital world, the physical world, and through a blend of the two? And are you able to deliver what I need, when I need it, across all channels?

Post-pandemic, consumer expectations are not going to retreat to a previous state with regard to ease and convenience. Now, consumers seek “everywhere commerce,” where transactions need not start and end in the same place, or on the same medium.


Ease and convenience

57%

For retailers, a substantial 57% of the Reimagined said they would switch retailers if they did not offer new, fast and flexible delivery options of goods such as click-and-collect and curbside pickup. Notably, almost half (48%) of the Traditional agreed.

51%

In the healthcare industry, we found that the Reimagined appreciate the convenience of virtual health appointments as well, with 51% saying they would change providers if they did not offer online appointments instead of physical visits, when appropriate.


What about the environment, and societal and corporate responsibility? Can you help me make sustainable choices? Can you help me support my local community?

Our focus groups confirmed that consumers increasingly want to know what goes into a product, how it’s produced and how far it’s been transported. Bringing this information to bear in a purchase decision helps enable them to support sustainability and care for their communities.


Product origin image

76%

of the Reimagined are attracted to doing business with brands that source services and materials in highly ethical ways—versus 52% of the Traditional. We also found that 65% of the Reimagined are attracted to doing business with brands that are environment-friendly, provide credible “green” credentials for products/services, minimize harm on the environment and/or invest in sustainability—versus 29% of the Traditional.


Can I trust you to do the right thing for me and not just for your business? Can I trust you to be who you say you are and stand for the things you say you stand for?

The Reimagined want to see that companies stood for something during the pandemic, that they are clear about how they want to contribute to society, and that they treat their employees well. Consumers want to avoid residual guilt about a purchase—any purchase—and accordingly, they are looking for signs that the company they are buying from has integrity and is aligned with their own values and (new) priorities.

In eight industries, a majority of the Reimagined said they would switch providers if they did not take visible actions to have a positive societal impact.

46%

of the Reimagined say they would pay more to support a retail brand that takes these visible actions. In the travel and life insurance industries, “strong ethical values” were either the top or second strongest motivator or loyalty driver among Reimagined Consumers.


We examined the switch, stay and pay motivators of consumers across the 14 industries in our study, including both goods and service providers, and found differences that suggest an enormous white space opportunity in which to build on strengths and leverage new strategies.

Take retail, for example. Differences were considerable across many motivators, and the Reimagined were far more willing than the Traditional to pay to see their expectations met by their current providers.

Trust and reputation stood out in consumer goods and services. The Reimagined, we found, are far more willing to pay extra and switch to other providers to buy from brands that take visible action for a positive societal impact.


Turning motivations
into motivators


How should companies respond? COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of countless experiences and concessions that companies introduced temporarily but which, unpredictably, have translated into long-term expectations that consumers never knew they had. Companies need to assess the relative value of these experiences and concessions to make informed strategic choices that will drive efficiency and growth.

The below “Stay/Go, Pay/No” two-by-two offers companies a risk/reward approach to beginning the process of evaluating the implications of keeping, rolling back, growing or adapting their offerings.



Stay, No, Pay, Go:

Evaluating offerings that motivate consumers to switch, stay or pay.
(All industry-specific examples below are illustrative based on survey findings)

Stay, No, Pay, Go

Companies have stretched to meet the needs of consumers over the course of the pandemic, at great and likely unsustainable cost. They will need to assess the permanence of the new experiences and concessions they’ve offered, as what has been learned by customers over the course of the pandemic may not easily be unlearned. Insights into consumers’ willingness to switch, stay or pay because of single or multiple offerings helps companies understand the risk and the rewards of each resolution scenario.

Rethink.
Companies should consider rolling back and potentially re-deploying these investments elsewhere because they seem to have limited perceived value, less differentiation and minimal risk if offloaded.

Recalibrate.
As existing consumers may be willing to pay more in this category, companies should consider creating a premium tier of services to unlock new revenue streams. Some of these may be more experimental offerings that consumers are willing to pay extra for but do not have broad enough appeal to drive switching.

Reengineer.
Companies should retain and reengineer these offerings to make them financially sustainable or risk losing customers. Expectations around these offerings have likely become the ‘new normal’, so brands need to reeingineer these benefits into the realm of affordability to protect their existing customers and attract new ones.

Reimagine.
Companies should invest in scaling and innovating these offerings as they create the opportunity to drive true differentiation. It is here companies will find the most white space to monetize, attract new consumers and create new value streams.

Shopping rechanneled

The white space opportunity

To drive growth, companies must reimagine their entire business through the lens of experience. This entails:

  • Investing continuously to understand your customers’ evolving mindsets.
    Never has research and the insights therein been more important. If you haven’t moved yet to being a listening organization, that is highly and visibly engaged with your customers every day, this would be the time to do so. If you don’t know where to start, start with your employees. No one knows your brand better. These people have chosen to spend their lives helping to build your brand … and remember, they are consumers too.
  • Reimagining the experiences the company delivers to meet rising motivations with speed, agility and innovation.
    Customers have never been more open to embracing new experiences and forming new habits. Now is the time to leapfrog traditional best practices and truly differentiate yourself in the industry.
  • Structuring the entire organization to create experiences that capture consumers’ evolving demands across all aspects of operations.
    Engage marketing, sales, innovation, R&D, customer service—everyone who is expected to deliver on these experiences must see and understand these new motivations.
  • Evolving the business model.
    Brands emerging from the pandemic might require a new business model with better pricing, different distribution channels or new revenue streams. This will allow them to continuously improve experiences and give customers exactly what they desire without sacrificing profitable growth.

By embracing the business of experience in these ways, organizations can seize the opportunity, meeting the Reimagined and others where they are and building new loyalty and revenue streams.