New research from Mastercard launched today reveals an organisation’s performance in diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), security and sustainability play a critical role in consumer purchasing decisions.
The research reveals that Australians are more likely to spend money with businesses who prioritise diversity (55%), sustainability (59%) and data security (69%) in 2023, meaning businesses who don’t meet customer expectations in this area are at risk of losing customers and revenue. Fortunately, Australian businesses are rising to the challenge in 2023.
According to Richard Wormald, Division President, Australasia, Mastercard, the research is a salient reminder of the need for organizations to actively align business practices to both consumer expectations, and those of their employees, if they are to be successful.
“The past year has been challenging for businesses, emerging from the pandemic environment to heightened customer expectations and a changing economic environment. There’s been incredible resilience in the landscape, with 85% of business leaders saying they are optimistic about the success of their business in 2023, but the message is clear that 2023 will be a year where businesses are rewarded for prioritising the things that are important for their customers and employees,” Wormald said.
Diversity and Accessibility now a must for businesses
An organisation’s accessibility and diversity initiatives will be key drivers for consumer purchasing choices in 2023. According to the research, 55% of Australians are more likely to shop with a business that has more diversity in its workforce, and 75% agree all businesses should be accessible to people with a physical, mental, sensory or intellectual disability.
Nearly three-quarters (74%) of Australians say they would be happy to see more accessibility built-in to products they use every day, for instance touch-accessibility for people with vision impairments, or better audio options for those who are hard of hearing. Australians are happy to demonstrate this with their wallets, too, with 68% saying they would pay more for products if they knew they were accessible for people with disabilities.
Fortunately, Australian businesses appear to be on the right track, with 80% of Australian organisations either currently having a DE&I strategy, or implementing one this year, and 88% of Australian business leaders rating their organisation’s diversity as better than average.
However, there is more work that can be done. While 85% of Australian employees agree their workplace is diverse, 50% say they feel their employer could do more to foster diversity in the workplace, and 76% of all Australians say organisations could do more when it comes to work and career opportunities for people with a disability (either physical, sensory or intellectual).
On a practical level, 74% of Australian businesses say they have made accessibility modifications to their business premises in the last 12 months, and a majority (73%) claim to have made the products they offer more accessible to consumers and clients with a disability; either by creating a new, accessible product (40%) or making accessibility changes to existing products (55%), or both.
The benefits of diversity and accessibility in an organisation are well known, with 92% of business leaders believing that increasing their diversity and inclusion in the workplace will have positive benefits for the whole company, including improving innovation and profitability.
“Awareness around ensuring an accessible society for everyone is growing as we hear from more diverse voices in our media and at incredible sporting events like the Australian Open. Technology and the digital environments we all interact with now have made the world more accessible than ever, and businesses must make the most of the opportunity. Creating touch-accessible products or sonic-accessible experiences must be on the agenda for 2023 and beyond,” said Wormald.
“Mastercard has introduced Touch Cards globally, simple notched cards to help blind and low-vision Mastercard cardholders distinguish their debit, credit and prepaid cards. In addition, our Sonic Brand adds peace of mind that a transaction is safe and secure, even when a customer cannot see the iconic Mastercard logo.”
In Australia, Mastercard expects to launch Touch Cards by mid-2023.
Sustainability remains a critical motivator for consumer decision-making
Sustainability remains a key priority for consumers and businesses alike in 2023 – 83% of businesses believe sustainability is “critical for success” for their industry, compared to 76% in 2022.
Customer expectations are rising when it comes to sustainable products, too, with 58% of Australians saying they would actively avoid shopping with a business that did not source its product sustainably, up 10% from 48% in 2022.
When it comes to the products Aussies will choose, 78% said they would opt for a sustainable alternative if available. Nearly one in five (19%) would opt for the sustainable option regardless of the difference in price, up from 13% in 2022.
Security still a key driver for consumers
Unsurprisingly, Australians place great importance on how businesses store and protect their data, and the research reveals this will remain a key concern in 2023. Two in five (39%) said they don’t think Australian businesses take data security very seriously, and more than half (52%) said they don’t think businesses are prepared to deal with cyber security threats.
Like other key priorities in 2023, businesses that do not take heed will lose out. With more than two-thirds of Australians (69%) saying they are more likely to purchase goods and services from organisations that take data security seriously, it is concerning that almost a quarter (23%) of Australian organisations say they have not reviewed data retention policies in the last 12 months, and nearly one in ten (8%) don’t even have data retention policies.
Fortunately, businesses are showing an understanding of customer demands when it comes to data security, with more businesses agreeing that protecting consumer data will be critical to the customer experience in 2023 (85%) than those that agree data security is primarily a compliance matter (76%).
However, a large proportion (82%) of business leaders say they need more help against cyber threats to look after customer data, demonstrating the need for other organisations in the Australian business landscape to offer innovative solutions to help protect customer data across the board.
On behalf of Mastercard, YouGov commissioned online surveys of 507 Australian business leaders, 1010 Australian employees and 1048 consumers nationwide from 15th – 21st December 2022.
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