As 2019 draws to a close, the customer journey has become increasingly complex, as new forms of content consumption have emerged and more and more traditional industries have gone digital, all the while raising concerns and awareness about privacy and digital wellbeing.

The famous blog Think With Google has just published a report with observations on the habits of digital users, which it has grouped into five major themes and which, it assures us, will all be trends throughout 2020. The data comes from its own interactions with users of Google's services and, specifically, its search engine. Data from the United States, of course, but easily scalable globally. Let's take a look at these five blocks, and some of the most relevant data.

1. An increasingly complex journey

As touchpoints and digital channels expand, the customer journey has become "increasingly chaotic", like something "akin to a chaotic treasure hunt", the company says in its research. It seeks to use channels as a high-levelfunnel, as customers switch between the online and offline worlds. "For marketers, making sense of how to engage with their customer has never been more tricky," it adds.

It also issues a warning to those who see web search as an underperforming funnel, as users tend to place search at the start of their 'journey', with the idea of getting discounts, ideas or inspiration. Such is the case that a large majority of customers (83%) search online before going to a shop, and almost half (45%) actually buy online and then pick up in shop. In addition, the use of video while in-store is soaring for more than half of consumers (55%).

2. New channels emerge

Beyond podcasts and video, new technologies such as augmented reality and voice are emerging, helping media to continue to evolve. "The engagement customer has never been more connected... but it can be difficult to know exactly when they are spending that time online. That's also why more than ever marketers need to know when and how to connect with consumers.

For the record, mobile image searches have increased by 60% in recent years, which is related to the fact that for half of consumers, images help them decide what to buy, or at least inspire them. In terms of video, time spent on YouTube on shopping-related videos has increased fivefold in two years, and the number of YouTube channels with more than 1 billion videos viewed has also increased fivefold. In terms of new channels, the number of active Google Assistant users has increased fourfold in just one year, with curiosities such as the 16 million queries made about recipes, of which 1 million occurred on a single day: Christmas.

3. Immediate satisfaction matters more than loyalty

In other words: "being there to meet people's immediate needs is the new battleground for brands. The winners will be those that save people time and give them what they want as quickly as possible. It couldn't be any other way when you consider that we live in a mobile society, and that three out of four smartphone users expect to get an immediate response while using their device. In fact, search combined with expressions such as "the best" and "right now" has grown by 125% in two years. For example: "best sales right now", "best phone right now" or "best SUV leasing right now".

On the other hand, geolocation to exploit the potential of the local environment is gaining ground. Searches for shops open "nearby" have increased by 250% in two years, the same proportion as the increase in searches for "sales nearby", trends that also affect industries such as insurance, banking and even repair shops.

4. Traditional industry goes digital

This is the way it is whether we like it or not, whether we like it or not, whether it is easy or not. We have been warning about it for years, and the refrain has not changed: "the future will be digital, or it won't be". People search nine times more than they did two years ago for online shopping apps, with a very high loyalty rate: three out of four consumers stick with the first seller who offers them what they are looking for. In a sector that we know so well in this house as the automotive sector, one fact underlines what we have been saying in our customer experience studies: the time spent on test drive videos is 70% higher today than it was two years ago. And watch out: searches for "electric cars" have also grown by 85% in two years.

5. Privacy and digital wellbeing

"In 2019 it has become clear that privacy, trust and wellbeing go hand in hand with effective advertising. To succeed, marketers need to work on earning people's trust, raising industry standards and providing more tools and data to help users manage their digital wellbeing." In this sense, the report can say it louder, but not clearer. And its data in this regard corroborates that idea massively.

For example, in the last year, 2.5 billion visits have been made to Google account pages for the sole purpose of viewing or adjusting how personalised ads are received, while "my activity" queries on the information stored in each Google account is now six times higher than in 2016. In addition, one in three users have initiated steps to increase their digital wellbeing, which four in five (80%) believe has a positive impact on their overall sense of wellbeing.

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