Brands’ digital experiences don’t seem to make much of an impression on consumers. Gartner market research shows that 58 percent of consumers believe that most brands’ digital experiences have little to no impact on what they end up buying.

Gartner reports that 89 percent of brands are prioritizing customer-facing digital experiences in 2021. Yet, its survey of more than 3,000 customers conducted between December 2020 and January 2021 revealed that nearly half of consumers can’t tell the difference between most brands’ digital experiences, and even fewer customers actually report doing something different as a result of a recent digital experience.

“The last year has brought on an acceleration in new digital experiences, as brands attempt to build more seamless and connected customer journeys,” says Kristina LaRocca-Cerrone, director, advisory, in the Gartner for Marketers practice. “However, our research shows that customers perceive these experiences as undifferentiated and—more importantly—that digital experiences rarely shift their buying behavior.”

For chief marketing officers strategizing and developing digital experiences, Gartner notes that a course-changing digital experience can lead customers to shift their perspective or approach and begin to take more confident steps toward a goal. A positive course change can impact brand preference by 37 percent and behavioral advocacy by 54 percent.

“When customers do something differently with confidence after a digital experience, that creates a lasting brand impression and inspires customers to share their memorable experience with others,” says LaRocca-Cerrone.

Customers’ self-reflective learning during a digital experience has twice the impact on driving customers’ course changes, compared to user experience functionalities. Gartner says that this is because customers change course when they feel empowered and ready to do something different, not because of a slick or intuitive user interface.

LaRocca-Cerrone adds, “To trigger these valuable customer course changes, CMOs must invest in building a new class of digital experiences that slows customers down at key junctures and rewards their self-reflection.”