How digital is changing customers and what this means for brands

We set out to understand the impact digital is having on customer behaviours, attitudes, expectations and loyalties, and the new agenda this now sets for brands.

We say ‘digital is having’, not ‘has had’, because what’s become very clear is that digital’s full customer impact is still working through. In retail, for example, anyone suggesting that some kind of customer ‘steady state’ has now been reached clearly hasn’t been paying attention. Or look at Monzo: launched with a current account in April 2017, reached one million customers in September 2018 and valued at £1 billion the following month.

That it’s still working through is equally evident across the three years of our study. The big story is of digital changing customers in ways that are simultaneously unprecedented and irreversible. Here are a few insights into the sea-change we are now living through. Today, customers:

  • know that the combination of smartphones, 24/7 connectivity and social networks puts greater market power in their hands;
  • are not only empowered by digital but becoming more confident and more proficient in leveraging this power;
  • increasingly expect yesterday’s innovations as today’s norm, as digital’s relentlessness turns motivators into hygiene factors;
  • quickly take all the good things digital gives them for granted and move on.

By now, all this is very clear. Yet it would be wrong to think of post-digital customers as an undifferentiated whole. Our research reveals big differences in behaviours, attitudes, expectations and loyalties across different customer groups. As you’d expect, there are strong differences across the generational cohorts. However, age no longer defines the critical customer cleaves.

To better understand this, we combined behavioural and attitudinal data to build a new, post-digital customer segmentation.

Our New Masters classification differentiates on the basis of customers’ digital engagement to define four overall customer segments: Digital Masters, Power Masters, Mobile Masters and Just About Engaged. This classification – which we preview in the Appendix – gives brands a powerful new tool to better understand and play into their post-digital customer base.

Over eight chapters the Report draws on our unique three-year study to give brands a definitive view of the post-digital customer landscape. It concludes with our thoughts on the new, and quite different, post-digital brand agenda that is now coming sharply into focus.

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