Generation Zoom now want ‘face-time’ with brands

video chatWith Lockdown 2.0 nearly a week in, brand owners are being urged to wake up to the joys of video calls, with a new study showing Zoom-loving consumers are becoming far more receptive to digital-first brand engagement, while also looking for compassion from brands during the pandemic.

According to new research from the DMA, Collinson, and Dotdigital, 1 in 10 (12%) consumers has video called a brand and nearly a quarter of consumers (23%) are interested in brands using video calls to engage with them in the future.

The “Customer Engagement: How to Win Trust and Loyalty” report highlights a number of changes to consumer behaviour and brand engagement since the survey was last carried out in 2018.

As periods of lockdown and social distancing have become part of daily life during the pandemic, consumers have had to turn to digital channels to maintain daily essential communications. Almost half of consumers (47%) are making video calls weekly.

Consumers are also open to and taking advantage of presence-free communications when engaging with brands. In addition to video calls, half of consumers (52%) have used chat customer service and would do again, or they are interested in doing so in the future.

Despite the pandemic disrupting habits, there has been a slight increase in what they study dubs “Active Loyals”, rising from 49% two years ago to 51% now. Meanwhile, “Habitual Loyals”, deemed as those who are loyal to brands they engage with more regularly, have increased to 17% from 13% previously.

Most consumers (77%) agree that brands should show compassion during the pandemic; two-thirds (66%) want brands to communicate how they are helping customers and 58% want to know how they are supporting staff.

The majority of consumers (76%) also expect brands to be flexible about cancellations during this time. with 56% agreeing they are more likely to stay loyal to brands that are able to be more adaptable in the current climate.

DMA Customer Engagement Committee chair Scott Logie, who is also customer engagement director at REaD Group, explained: “Compassion is something we have heard about a lot in recent times, but this in connection to a brand is still relatively new.

“Over time, we have seen that the ethics and credentials of brands are becoming an important part of the consideration phase for many consumers, and this is a natural extension of that during these difficult times. This is definitely something for brands to consider.”

Collinson Europe general manager of agency Zoë Senior added: “During the coronavirus period, the retail industry has been under huge pressure. The high street has seen a significant drop in footfall and clothing and footwear retailers are suffering even more than most. Unsurprisingly, we have also seen a huge jump in online shopping as consumers have moved online to buy everything from weekly essentials to luxury goods.

“Encouragingly, despite all this change we see some of the fundamentals of loyalty have remained solid. The basic loyalty segmentation has remained relatively consistent with levels of those who are actively loyal and those actively disloyal broadly unchanged since 2017.”

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