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

This week, as the golden season commences, we have new research about how consumers are shopping and spending their money on Black Friday, and how confident they are to spend. There’s also new insights on employee wellbeing and marketing experimentation.

Key news

  • Gartner released a survey of over 6,000 customers that reveals 38% of Gen Z and millennial customers say they’ll give up on a customer service issue if it can’t be resolved in self-service. This is versus just 11% of baby boomers. Gen Z and millennial customers identified that if their issue could not be resolved in self-service they: Would use the service or product less (55%); Wouldn’t buy from that company again in the future (52%); Would say negative things about the company or product (44%).
  • A new survey from StreaksAI revealed that 73% of the respondents think AI chatbots could help reduce loneliness. The survey, which gathered responses from 300 people across the UK, further revealed that: A majority (53%) believe the development of conversational AI technology will increase quality of life. 26% of respondents express a willingness to engage in intimate and emotional roleplay with chatbots. Additionally, almost half of those surveyed (48%) expressed comfort in discussing personal or sensitive issues with an AI chatbot.
  • After a summer slump, bitcoin’s price jumped over 25% in October, fitting with the ‘Uptober‘ narrative that the cryptocurrency tends to rise in the fall. The recent boost follows an 18-month downturn that erased $2tn (£1.7tn; €1.9tn) in crypto value.
  • New research shows retiring early in the UK increasingly depends on your wealth, making it harder for many to stop working. In the early 2000s, retirement rates before 65 were similar across income levels. But now, only 7% of the lowest earners can voluntarily retire early, versus 24% of the highest earners. With rising life expectancy and insufficient savings, more average earners are working longer, often past 65, to afford retirement. The number of Brits working beyond 65 has tripled since 2000, with one in nine now working past this age. 

Commentary share: society needs to come together for AI

This week was the UK’s AI Safety Summit. However, there’s a lot more to be done on AI governance further to a summit.

“Beyond tackling the potential threats and ethics of AI, a more deliberate effort must be made to ensure no-one is left out of the conversation. Government and industry should work together, and employees and consumers need to be part of the conversation as well, to ensure that AI-related investment and development aligns with a wider societal view. This can only be done with proactive governance and continuous learning, centred around an ethical perspective. Today is a starting point; the real journey lies in how the UK can adapt, innovate, and lead this new AI-driven era.”

Mark Barry, EMEA Managing Director at HubSpot

Economic challenges can’t dampen the holiday spirit – Black Friday sales still expected to excel this year

54% of consumer spend this Black Friday period is predicted to be on Christmas presents, Wunderman Thompson Commerce and Technology’s Black Friday report reveals.

And the trend towards online shopping hasn’t diminished now that brick-and-mortar stores are back to business. In fact, 76% of Black Friday spend is set to be online this year. All of which will be music to the ears of marketplaces, spearheaded by giants like Amazon who remain the top choice for Black Friday deals, accounting for 54% of all Black Friday spend. 

But all is not lost for Amazon’s competitors. Amongst the 16-24 age group specifically, Amazon’s stronghold has become weaker, capturing only 37% of the market share. 

Consumer trust also remains a concern for the bigger players. Only 10% of consumers feel they are the primary beneficiaries of Black Friday, with 31% agreeing that Amazon benefits most from the sales period. 

This sentiment is further echoed by the fact that only 37% of UK consumers believe they secure the best deals during this shopping bonanza. The lingering disappointment from last year’s sales, felt by 41% of consumers, underscores the urgent need for retailers to recalibrate their strategies.

And consumers have more considerations at play this year: one being the environmental impact of their purchases. Perhaps surprisingly, 30% of consumers are re-evaluating their Black Friday shopping habits due to environmental concerns this year. 58% are also open to more sustainable delivery options, such as “Amazon Day Delivery.” 

Just one in three UK businesses prepared to handle employee wellbeing concerns

The number of employees voicing wellbeing concerns is on the rise, but a significant number of organisations and managers are ill-prepared to address them. This is according to new research from Mintago.

The fintech startup surveyed 503 senior managers within UK-based organisations (public and private sector). This revealed that an overwhelming majority (87%) have been approached by an employee in the past 12 months to discuss concerns relating to their wellbeing.

Following mental health (48%) and job satisfaction (43%), financial wellbeing (40%) emerged as the third most prevalent concern that employees spoke to their managers about.

Of those who had discussed financial wellbeing issues with employees, 68% of managers cited the cost-of-living crisis (68%) as the predominant source of concern. This was followed by requests for a pay rise (50%), keeping up with rental or mortgage payments (46%) and worries about debt (43%).

Despite financial wellbeing issues being so common, Mintago’s research found that a third of organisations do not have a clear process in place for handling employees’ wellbeing concerns. Furthermore, 47% of managers say that, on a personal level, they are uncomfortable handling their colleague’s financial wellbeing concerns.

Consumer confidence polarised as cost of living crisis tightens but eCommerce remains buoyant

‘The UK eCommerce confidence report’ from Visualsoft suggests that consumer confidence is increasingly polarised amid the ongoing cost of living crisis. The research reveals that while 35% of people are looking to decrease discretionary spend, a substantial 29% are predicting an increase in their spending over the coming months. 

While one in three (35%) are tightening their belts, some consumers are still seeking moments of enjoyment, indicating that pockets of optimism exist. Most people expect their discretionary spending to remain constant (37%), while an impressive 29% plan to increase their expenses on dining out, entertainment and clothing. With the ‘big’ stuff out of reach, like mortgages and holidays, more accessible pleasures are compelling.

Only 8% stated they had no intention to purchase online in the next quarter. Consumers plan to spend more on themselves and their homes, with the top three categories for online purchases over the next three months being:

  • fashion and footwear (48%)
  • home and garden (42%)
  • health and beauty (40%)

Notably, younger consumers, 18-24 year olds, feel most optimistic about the UK economy (43%), while 45-54 (23%) and 55-64 year olds (26%) are the least optimistic. 66% of 18-24 year olds are optimistic about their financial situation compared to 42% of those aged 55-64. This is surprising given the older age groups higher income status and larger disposable income.

Almost all consumers are now shopping online (99%), with 79% shopping at least once a month. Furthermore, 35% of consumers shop online weekly or more frequently indicating an increasing preference for online shopping for everyday items.   

44% of marketers invest in experimentation to drive revenue during economic downturn

Rather than cutting back, almost half of marketers (44%) are actively investing in experimentation as a direct response to the UK’s current economic slump. That’s according to new research from Optimizely, which reveals marketers are using experimentation in the face of cutbacks as a way to deliver personal experiences that drive revenue, boost customer retention and deliver growth.

The ‘Personalised to Personal’ report, based on a study of 100 UK marketing leaders and 1,000 UK consumers, explores the financial benefit of delivering targeted experiences that are “truly personal.” The research shows that an overwhelming majority of marketers (75%) believe it’s “more important than ever” to find new ways to optimise their personalisation strategy during tough economic times.  

With almost every brand now using personalisation, 70% of marketers say they are marrying personalisation with experimentation to get ahead of the competition and deliver content that will stand out. Optimizely’s report argues that this is a smart move, at a time when 65% of consumers are more loyal to brands that get to know them at a personal level.

“At a time when UK consumer spending power is at its lowest levels due to high inflation, it’s more important than ever for brands to deliver online experiences that demonstrate they understand consumers, including their preferences and needs. Experimentation is one of the smartest investments a brand can make. It allows companies to properly understand their customers’ behaviours and make decisions based on data, rather than assumptions, in order to provide the tailored experiences that customers love – driving loyalty and boosting brands’ bottom lines.”

– Shafqat Islam, Optimizely CMO.

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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