New Digital Index, Lab Measure Online Consumer Satisfaction Globally

Jul 28, 2016

A new digital consumer satisfaction index offers a global tool to understand how consumers make connections with a brand leading up to their final decision to either engage and purchase something or go elsewhere. This Digital Satisfaction Index (DSI) originated in the Intent Lab, a new research partnership between Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism, Media and Integrated Marketing Communications and Performics Worldwide. 

Through the partnership, Northwestern and Performics will conduct original research studies tied to major brands to help those brands better understand their consumers' online behavior. To construct the DSI, Northwestern and Performics conducted in-person consumer interviews, surveys with probabilistic and non-probabilistic samples of more than 3,000 participants in the U.S. and the U.K. throughout Spring of 2016, and identified the four key factors of consumer satisfaction: trust, utility, social and privacy.

Among the findings: 

  • Privacy is a significant concern for Americans, but less so for online consumers in the U.K.
  • Digital satisfaction is highest among baby boomers; lowest among youngest and oldest demographics
  • The financial services industry scored the highest in digital satisfaction; Household goods scored the lowest

The research revealed the most salient four factors driving consumer digital satisfaction were Trust, Utility, Social and Privacy (more so than other factors like Personalization and Recommendations). Trust measures attitudes about the credibility of information presented online. Utility is the usefulness of the website or app to users. This includes assessments of how efficient it is to get things done online versus offline, and how easily information can be accessed. Social represents the extent to which users value their social interactions online -- both their enjoyment engaging with others and with getting glimpses into the lives of others online. Privacy is the level of comfort that users have with information being collected about them online.

The overall DSI score (on a 100-point scale) is a combined measure of the level of satisfaction and importance of key factors, such as those listed above. The U.S. DSI score was 58.4 overall, and though online users gave utility a score of 77 -- indicating relative satisfaction with the usefulness of websites and apps -- and social a score of 61.3 -- indicating consumers enjoy engaging with others online, dissatisfaction with privacy and collection of personal information, as well as trust -- or the perception of how credible information is online -- drove the overall DSI lower, with scores of 34.2 and 52.6, respectively. 

Comparatively, U.K. consumers are more satisfied with their digital experiences than U.S. consumers, given the U.K.'s overall DSI score of 65.6.  This is primarily because U.K. consumers skewed higher in privacy (42.2) and place 43 percent less importance on privacy than American counterparts. Also, while the utility score was very close to the U.S. at 77.4, they weighted that factor as 36% more influential than in the U.S.

In both the U.S. and U.K., digital satisfaction is the lowest among the youngest age group (18-24), scoring 57.1, as well as 64-75 year olds and those over 75 years old, the oldest age group. With a score of 61, baby boomers, ages 55-64 years old, are the most satisfied. 

The Intent Lab DSI also analyzed retail, financial services, travel and household goods industry products and services in the U.S. and the U.K.  Overall, DSI is highest for financial services at 63.6, and lowest for household goods at 60.3. As with the overall DSI findings, for U.S. retail and financial services brands, privacy scored low, while the U.K. scored higher than the U.S. across all industries.