Merkle, of Columbia, launched the second edition of its Consumer Experience Sentiment Report. Within this report, several key themes emerged, including those around consumers’ online engagement, the desire for personalized experiences, and brands’ abilities to engage on an emotional level.

As consumers continue to adjust to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Merkle looked to better understand how preferences were changing by surveying more than 1,300 US consumers in March 2021. The global pandemic and other social, economic, and political events resulted in several fundamental pivots when it comes to how consumers interact with brands.

The study found that consumers are increasingly becoming more comfortable with sharing their data in exchange for personalized experiences. In fact, the percentage of respondents who are uncomfortable sharing personal information, regardless of the benefits, decreased from 2020 and is currently at 23% of respondents. And even further, the feeling that personalization makes it easier to find products of interest rose to 49%. However, in the privacy-centric environment of today, brands must execute these personalized experiences in a data-safe way. Brands that are able to do this are being rewarded with customer loyalty.

Additional insights from survey respondents include:

  • Brand reputation, personalization, and brand loyalty have all increased in importance from 2020 to 2021.
  • 88 percent of consumersview a brand’s products as having higher quality if they feel like the brand is listening to their needs.
  • 91 percent of consumers are slightly or significantly likely to make a repeat purchase if they feel a brand has listened.
  • 48 percent of peopleincreased the amount they spent shopping online this year compared to this time last year.

The Consumer Experience Sentiment Report will continue to track key experience indicators on an annual basis in order to help marketers understand consumer preferences and identify how sentiment and expectations are changing as the market evolves.