Meaningful changes in consumer mindsets that emerged as a byproduct of the COVID-19 pandemic indicate preferences for purpose will continue and perhaps accelerate. Accenture’s latest research found that a full half of global consumers—across backgrounds, demographics and geographies—say they have totally reimagined their values and purpose over the past 18 months.  

Businesses that anticipate the impacts will be better positioned to thrive.

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Our research also reveals five new purchasing motivations—that exceed price and quality—oriented around consumers’ desire to feel better and have confidence in the products, services and companies they patronize: health and safety, service and personal care, ease and convenience,  product origin, and trust and reputation. 

From my perspective, that fifth motivation – trust and reputation – is proof that as people spend their money differently, savvy and sustainable consumption will endure. 

Consumers are asking: 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?” 

To me, this is further evidence that every business now needs a clear purpose. 

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The push for purpose was gaining momentum before COVID-19 reshaped consumer preferences and behaviors. The pandemic has simply made the need for purpose more widespread – and more urgent.

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Beyond price, beyond customer experience 

Having studied consumer trends for years, I remember when consumers were most influenced by product quality and price. I also remember the late 2000s, when they started to view most offerings—from bank accounts to big-screen TVs—as commodities. They told us that what set some companies apart was the customer experience (CX), and businesses began working to improve the experience they provided to their customers.   

In recent years, we have observed leading organizations evolve beyond the CX philosophy and organize the whole business around the delivery of exceptional experiences. These experiences respond to customers’ new, often unmet and frequently changing needs and enable them to achieve their desired outcomes. We see these organizations as being in the Business of Experience (BX). 

With BX, the concept of the purpose-driven brand has challenged traditional CX mindsets. Accenture 2018 research revealed that US consumers were already beginning to make consumption choices based upon what a brand says, what it does and what it stands for. They told us they support companies with a purpose that aligns with their beliefs; they walk away from those that don’t. A subsequent Accenture study found that Gen Y and Gen Z consumers – who now outnumber all other generations globally – demand proof of purpose and will use their influence and spending power to prove it. 

In short, the push for purpose was gaining momentum before COVID-19 reshaped consumer mindsets, preferences and behaviors. The pandemic has simply made the need for purpose more widespread – and more urgent. 

Clarifying your purpose 

As we collectively brace for the big shift in value chains, one of the most powerful ways you can prepare your business is by clarifying your purpose. This is about much more than having a paragraph on your values or a “corporate citizenship” page on your company site. This is about being very clear about who you are, why you’re here and what you’re doing – not just for your customers but for the world.  

Today’s consumers still want quality products at fair prices. They still want positive experiences of buying, using and getting help with those products (or services). But they also care more than ever about the “who” and the “why” behind those products and experiences.  

Now is the time to be sure that you know your company’s “why” – and that you’re both communicating that purpose and living it as you navigate change today and in the future.  

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See more Customer insights

Kevin Quiring

Managing Director – Accenture Strategy, Customer Sales & Service Strategy Global Lead

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