Findings from State of Technology in Retail report underscore growing importance of technology and consumer feedback in product development process.
MakerSights, creator of a predictive product decision platform for retail, has released findings from its inaugural State of Technology in Retail report, which reveals the role consumers’ feedback has on their likelihood to purchase products. The report also found that despite a healthy consumer appetite for providing feedback, product professionals are still challenged with understanding what their customers want.
Additional findings pointed to the importance of customer feedback and adoption of new technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, predictive analytics or 3D printing) in bridging the gap between understanding what consumers want and increasing sales and brand affinity. The report’s findings were based on a two-part survey of more than 200 product professionals from retailers and brands, along with roughly 300 consumers.
The prevalence of digital and mobile — compounded by the popularity of social media platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube and Pinterest — has created millions of tech-savvy consumers who are hooked on the access, influence and real-time gratification that the modern digital landscape gives them. Consumers across all generations have now been primed to expect more from their favorite brands and retailers. Consequently, brands and retailers are faced with the mounting urgency to recognize and react to the specific needs and wants of today’s consumers.
“We are seeing major shifts in consumer expectations for how they want to communicate and transact with their favorite brands. We no longer live in a world where brands can dictate trends and consumers will wait to purchase what is made available to them,” said Matt Field, MakerSights’ president and co-founder. “As the results of this report clearly show, collaboration, transparency and continuous dialogue are top of mind for today’s consumers when assessing purchase options — it must become a bigger part of the go-to-market process for brands hoping to retain mindshare and loyalty.”
Consumers know what they want and they want to be heard
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The survey found that consumers value being engaged in the product-creation and go-to-market process, and that being part of the process would impact future purchase decisions and brand loyalty:
75 percent noted that if a brand asked them for feedback on future products or ideas that it would increase their likelihood to purchase from that brand; 66 percent indicated that they wish there were more opportunities to share feedback with their favorite brands.
83 percent of millennial and Gen Z consumers surveyed (ages 18-34) indicated an increased likelihood to purchase from a brand that asked them for feedback.
Nearly a quarter (22 percent) indicated that the “ability to have a say in how or what products are made” was a driver of loyalty to a brand.
In contrast, the survey of 254 retail professionals found that a top challenge for product teams remains understanding end-consumer preferences. This reveals a gap between consumer expectations for more dialogue and the perceived lack of consumer discovery on the part of retail businesses.
43 percent indicated that the toughest challenge they face today when bringing new products to market is “understanding customer preferences,” followed by inventory management (41 percent) and pricing strategy (32 percent)
41 percent reported that the most critical challenge in retail today is acquiring and retaining customers, followed by 28 percent who reported ineffective organizational structures (e.g., siloed departments)
Along with its inaugural report, MakerSights has unveiled the latest iteration of its cloud-based product decision platform, which is aligned to the retail calendar to empower brands to reduce the gap between products made and what consumers buy.
By combining human intuition and machine learning, MakerSights helps product teams make more informed decisions, eliminating risk at all product development stages, making it possible to narrow the multi-trillion-dollar annual gap between what brands think consumers want and what consumers actually value.
“To most effectively support product-related decision-making, we designed the new iteration of our platform to be tied directly to the retail calendar as opposed to sitting outside of it, [which] helps brands seamlessly aggregate consumer feedback, historical sales data and internal hypotheses when assessing the viability of new products,” Field said. “Anyone within a product organization can access these data-driven suggestions at any point across the product lifecycle to develop better products that will sell to their full potential.”