3 Surprising Consumer Preferences to Help Stores Beat the Economy

6 min read

Did you know that 60% of consumers are expecting Retail and eCommerce brands to help them navigate the current socioeconomic challenges? This is a great opportunity to identify current consumer preferences, lift their spirits, and drive acquisition, loyalty and retention.

Price isn’t Everything

With 17% of consumers struggling financially and 35% just getting by, it’s not a shock that 43% think stores should absorb price increases.  More surprising is that 65% are determined to prioritise treats. Affectionately dubbed “the lipstick effect”, this affords the opportunity to cross-sell and upsell small luxury items and raise their average order value (AOV).

Shops should also note these three overriding trends in the current market:

  1. Great loyalty programs are a huge pull for 92% of consumers
  2. 62% want eCommerce and retail to show empathy
  3. 85% will remain loyal to businesses with a history of transparent communications

Marketing is Key to Success

3 Surprising Consumer Preferences to Help Stores Beat the Economy
Loyalty Experience

Slashing product prices fails as a competitive differentiator when all stores are doing it. Cutting marketing budgets also isn’t the answer and experts like the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising, are issuing warnings that “a short-term reaction is never as effective as long-term investment”. 70% of marketers agree that reduced budgets make it very challenging to create impactful campaigns. Instead, stores should embrace consumer trends and use best-in-class solutions to craft personalised campaigns showing empathy and transparency, while rewarding loyalty.  

Text Messages & Chatbots

Currently, the highest performing channels are mobile messaging, with an average CTR of 80% and chatbots with up to 30% of conversations resulting in a lead or conversion. Retailers lose up to 30% of sales when they fail to meet omnichannel shopping expectations, whereas marketing campaigns utilising at least three channels like website, AI chatbot and mobile messaging can expect a 494% higher order rate.

Available in 40 countries with over 1.1 billion users worldwide and a 97% message delivery rate, Viber Business Messages are a favourite with consumers. In 2022 12B messages were sent and received in Viber Chatbots globally. With their 24/7, multimedia, one-to-one and one-to-many communication capabilities and native payment options, these bots are delighting consumers. 

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The Loyalty Experience

More than 50% of consumers are seeking new ways to collect points, with 20% inclined to spend more with brands with loyalty programmes. To stand out you need to create innovative, personalised initiatives and banish silos, integrating loyalty into every aspect of your multichannel CX.

Super Segmentation

When spending points, 80% of consumers are rational decision makers and 20% emotional. The latter want luxury rewards. This information is invaluable for segmentation and informing your chatbot personality to get emotional buy-in.

A Seamless CX

Loyalty is not only about reward schemes. 90% of consumers expect a consistent CX across all channels. Viber Business Messages and Viber ChatBots can integrate with your CRM or CDP so you can analyse transaction history to create a personalised, co-ordinated CX that rewards loyal purchasers. When a customer makes an order from your chatbot it can automatically bring up their delivery address from their last purchase, on another channel, so they can confirm in one word which one they want to use.  

Points Win Prizes

Almost 50% of customers are interested in “reward and win” initiatives with coveted prizes, so these increase loyalty scheme signups and retention. The global wellness market evaluation is $1.5 trillion and growing 5-10% YoY. 18-34 year olds are spending more on fitness than anyone else, but 53% are also reducing or cancelling gym memberships. Combine these trends with a text message promoting a reward and win offer. Add a link to your chatbot showcasing a range of home gym equipment, workout gear and supplements, offering double reward points and a chance to win a high value fitness wearable. Savvy stores will be extending their ecosystem of strategic loyalty partners who create these products, to enable these initiatives.

3 Surprising Consumer Preferences to Help Stores Beat the Economy
Loyalty Experience

Transparency is a Differentiator

Consumers received 60 million out-of-stock messages from 2020-2022. Whilst they understand the reasons for supply chain issues, brands that don’t communicate transparently are seen as unreliable. Use Viber’s transactional messages to manage customer expectations, update them on the status of their order, suggest alternative products, and lower return and cancellation rates.


Set up a pre-order service or back-in-stock notifications and promote them with website banners and in-store signage. When a customer pre-orders an out-of-stock item, keep them updated with timely transactional messages regarding its arrival to the warehouse, dispatch and delivery. If they respond with questions or a complaint, offering them a discount on a future purchase is a great touch. Alternatively, an apology gift of branded merchandise, like a mug or beanie, has promotional benefits.

Alternative Products

Set up your chatbot to offer comparable products using image carousels, GIFs, emojis, and stickers to make them even more appealing than the initial selection. If your customer wants to buy a mid-range item that’s not available, your chatbot could upsell a high-end version extolling its quality and money-saving longevity. Or it could cross-sell a lower price version with a bundle of relevant add-ons to raise your AOV.

Delivery Differentiators

For 32% of consumers, delivery costs are a barrier, particularly if the item is delayed as it is in around 56% of sales. For 48% of consumers free or cheaper delivery make them more likely to buy. If you own both a brick-and-mortar and eCommerce store, devise a messaging and chatbot campaign that wins over your local community.  Overcome post office and supply chain backlogs and differentiate store from your competitors’ by offering expedited local courier delivery and “buy online pick up in-store” (BOPIS) options.

Empathy Builds Longevity

3 Surprising Consumer Preferences to Help Stores Beat the Economy
Loyalty Experience

60% of consumers say they will spend more with a brand that shows them empathy. Asking for and acting on customer feedback, understanding economic challenges, promoting preferred product lines, and innovative payment options are all winning strategies.

The Right Products

Affordability is defined differently by segments of your target market so offering versions of the most desirable products enables you to cater for all incomes. Cheaper ranges attract first time purchasers, and you can scale-up your AOV further down the funnel with more expensive products. Campaigns around products that reduce energy bills, including radiator reflectors, draft excluders, slow cookers, air fryers, and countdown timers are an obvious starting point. However, as discussed, consumers are also looking for products that bring genuine joy.

Be the Antidote

The tone of your messaging is key to showing empathy. It may be tempting to talk directly about the world’s challenges. However, only 24% of consumers think brands have the credibility to directly comment on the cost-of-living and other social crises. The angry backlash against Dettol’s “back to work” advert for hand sanitiser during the pandemic was proof enough of this. Rather than focusing on problems, try to provide hope and moments of joy.

Actions Speak Louder

Take inspiration from global brands. Ikea are selling children’s meals from 95p at their in-store cafes. The Iceland Food Club provides customers with short term interest free micro-loans of up to £75 on a pre-loaded members’ card. After trial, they reported 92% of members in Yorkshire and North Wales reduced or stopped relying on food banks. John Lewis’ 2022 Christmas advert was a departure from their previous fairy-tale escapism.  Instead, they shone a heart-warming light on their fundraising with Action for Children to support children in foster care. These brands are showing their empathy by taking genuine action and stores that mimic this behaviour will get consumers’ emotional buy-in.

Lend an Ear

The best way to create a winning empathy strategy is to ask your customers what they want;  77% of consumers will like you more for it. Viber’s ChatBots, Conversational Business Messages, Communities and Channels have two-way communication functionality. This enables you to conduct polls, surveys, and post-purchase and customer service feedback.

These tools furnish you with valuable structured data and analytics to get your product lines and messaging right. Treat, rewards, discount vouchers and prizes are super popular right now, so use them as limited time incentives to get feedback. This is a golden opportunity to ask your customers what type of loyalty initiatives they would like, what products matter to them and how you can add value.

Listen to them – their preferences are the lifeblood of your marketing campaigns and the main driver of your revenue.

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