Happy Friday! ‘This week in CX’ brings you the latest roundup of industry news.

This week, it only makes sense that we’re looking at the latest retail research for consumer trends and purchase behaviours for this Black Friday sales weekend. Customers want personalised experiences and their spending is slashed in half. Even further into the golden retail quarter, Gen Z shoppers are heading out away from online stores!

Key news

  • Studies show that 91% of finance employees work before and/or after their contracted hours, which can take a toll on wellbeing. Burnout in this sector often translates to low productivity and, in some cases, finance professionals leaving their jobs. According to psychologist Dr Audrey Tang, this is where leaders can play a critical role
  • Tech hiring and pay rises are down significantly in Europe compared to last year as higher interest rates and a slowdown in venture capital funding take their toll on the industry, Sifted reports. Data from compensation platform Ravio shows that tech hiring across the continent has plunged 40% in 2023 in comparison to last year. Of the 900 companies surveyed, 55% said they intend to keep their headcount flat for the first half of 2024, meaning they will replace staff who leave but they won’t necessarily hire for any new roles. In terms of pay rises, many tech companies are only budgeting a 4.8% increase in base salaries for their staff in 2023, which is 40% less than in 2022. 
  • There has been a 135% annual rise in fake retail websites blocked by cybercrime detector Netcraft, according to the firm’s latest data. These include websites claiming to offer highly discounted goods or fake online shops impersonating the e-commerce platforms of established retailers, often acting as a front to capture payment details, with any goods that do end up delivered likely to be counterfeit. These kinds of scams are especially prolific around discounting windows like Black Friday and Cyber Monday, according to Netcraft analysts.

Commentary share: AI investment regulation

This week, the Autumn Statement was released and discussed continued investment into artificial intelligence. Here’s what Mark Barry, EMEA Managing Director at HubSpot had to say.

“Additional funding into AI was to be expected from today’s Autumn Budget – Rishi Sunak wants the UK to become an innovation hub. But it’s just as important that AI-related investment aligns with the views of society. New advancements bring forth the need for new regulation, investment in L&D and reskilling of workforces; business leaders and government must advocate for the benefits of AI whilst eliminating its limitations. Above all, we must ensure the safety of society is not forgotten in the UK’s pursuit of the AI crown.

Black Friday customers demand a personalised experience

Two thirds of UK shoppers (66%) expect a personalised experience from the brands they regularly shop with this Black Friday. That’s according to new research from Twilio.

The survey of 2,000 UK consumers revealed a big opportunity for brands to engage with new audiences. 36% of UK consumers say Black Friday is the day of the year that they are the most open to trying out new brands. 46% also said they are more likely to become a year-long customer if they’ve had a positive Black Friday experience with a brand.

However, these findings also reinforce the need for brands to engage their existing customer base and put strategies in place to avoid them looking elsewhere. Respondents suggested companies could achieve this by giving them prior notification of an upcoming sale (33%), notifying them if a product or service they repeatedly buy is heading into the sales (30%), and delivering personalised communications based on past purchases (23%). 

21% of respondents also said that, when they are a regular and loyal customer, they do not want to compete with ‘new’ customers to get the best deals. This further supports the idea that brands need to go the extra mile to reward and engage their existing customer base.

Black Friday fails 

Twilio’s research highlighted the biggest mistakes that brands can make during this period, with the three biggest consumer frustrations revealed to be: 

  1. Seeing the same, if not better, discounts at other times of year (37%)
  2. Having to wade through a lot of irrelevant products before finding deals that appeal (30%)
  3. The product being of poor quality, or not as advertised (30%)

In addition, 23% felt frustrated by receiving unsolicited marketing and targeted adverts from a brand after a Black Friday purchase. 46% went on to say they would be less likely to return to a brand post-Black Friday if they were inundated with generic marketing messages.

Brits brace for Black Friday belt tightening – shopper spend to slash by HALF

Despite retailers starting their Black Friday campaigns earlier than ever this year, the average amount spent per British shopper is set to fall by £142. This is a 50% drop from individual spend on Black Friday 2022. However, as wallets tighten and concerns about the cost of living heighten, there is predicted to be a sharp increase in the number of us turning Black Friday as a beacon of hope – with the number of Brits looking to buy most of their Christmas gifts on the day of deals tripling.  

That’s according to the latest research from SAP Emarsys, which conducted research on over 2,000 UK consumers about their shopping habits and Black Friday spending plans as part of its Customer Loyalty Index.

With the cost-of-living crisis putting consumers under pressure, the average Brit is set to spend just £141 this Black Friday.This is a total of £7.7bn, down from an average of £283 in 2022.

The SAP Emarsys research also reveals there are gender and age divides when it comes to Black Friday spending habits. While women are set to spend £90, men are planning to purchase a whopping £188. And it seems that Gen Z is set to lead the shopping spree this Black Friday – while over 55s are looking to spend just £64 on average, 16-24-year olds will splurge £298. This is a whopping 366% more than the older generation.

The study shows that, for Brits, Black Friday is set to be a means of saving the festive season. In fact, 27% of British shoppers plan to purchase most of their Christmas gifts in the Black Friday sales – almost 3x the amount who did last year (10%). In 2022, 5.5 million Brits planned to bag the majority of their Christmas gifts on Black Friday – in 2023 the number looking to do the same is set to be 15 million.

In this evolving landscape, SAP Emarsys highlights that Black Friday will be more important than ever for UK retailers and brands. However, the company also warns that discounts won’t be enough to secure sales and long-term loyalty.

88% of Gen Z shoppers in UK plan to visit a physical store this Golden Quarter  

Aptos released the findings of its 2023 Golden Quarter Consumer Survey. The report found that the majority of Gen Z shoppers plan to spend more or the same on Christmas gifts compared to last year, For them, visiting physical stores during the festive period is a top priority. 

The survey of 2,000 UK consumers aged 16 to 26 was conducted in October 2023 and sought to identify the shopping habits and preferences of older Gen Z shoppers during the Golden Quarter. Currently, Gen Z is recognised as ages 11 through 26. As this demographic gets older and gains more disposable income, they have become a key audience for retailers to engage. 

Notable takeaways from the survey include:

  • Eighty percent of the Gen Z survey respondents plan to spend more than or the same as last year on Christmas gifts.
  • Despite being digital natives, 88% plan to visit a physical store during the Christmas shopping period. Special in-store events and festive decorations, lights and displays were cited as some of the top draws of stores during the Golden Quarter.    
  • Just 12% of those surveyed started Christmas shopping prior to October. Almost three-quarters (72%) of their Christmas shopping will take place in November and December. 

The report also explores Gen Z’s expectations for in-store experiences and omnichannel cohesion:  

  • Click and collect: More than two-thirds (68%) of the survey respondents plan to use click and collect during the festive shopping period. When consumers enter stores for collection, this provides retailers with significant opportunities to encourage additional purchases. 
  • Sales assistants: The availability and helpfulness of shop assistants was listed as one of the most critical elements of a positive in-store experience. This reinforces the role that staff play in differentiating and enhancing the store experience and, during the festive period, in helping shoppers find the right gifts. 
  • Stock availability and checkout experiences: Not surprisingly, when Gen Z shoppers make a trip to a store, they expect a good range of stock and on-shelf availability. They also have no patience for waiting in long queues, emphasising the importance of speedy checkouts as well as returns.   

Thanks for tuning into CXM’s weekly roundup of industry news. Check back next Friday for the latest updates of the week!

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