Q4 Northwestern University and Performics Digital Satisfaction Index Measures Online Consumer Satisfaction in the U.S., Germany, and China

Dec 13, 2016

A research partnership between Medill Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) and Performics Worldwide has released its latest study, assessing and comparing how online shoppers in the U.S., Germany and China rate their online interactions with major brands. The Digital Satisfaction Index (DSI), released quarterly by their collaboration, the Intent Lab, offers a research-driven global tool to better understand consumers’ online behavior.

Key insights of the fall quarter DSI report—the second issued by the Intent Lab since its inception—include findings that Chinese consumers are the most satisfied, due in large part to online social engagement; Germany excels in privacy and trust; privacy is a deal breaker in the U.S.; women are more satisfied than men and baby boomers are least satisfied.

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 throughout spring of 2016, and identified the four key needs that impact consumer satisfaction: Trust (need for consistency), Utility (need for efficiency), Social (need for connection) and Privacy (need for safety).

The U.S. scored an overall Q4 DSI of 61.3. While U.S. users were relatively satisfied with brand Utility and Social interactions, they were dissatisfied with Privacy. (30.3 U.S. Privacy DSI vs. 41.9 in China and 44.7 in Germany). In particular, U.S. Gen Xers had high privacy concerns. The U.S. score is higher this quarter than last quarter by a statistically significant margin. This is because Utility and Social, which people rate very positively, were viewed as being more important than in the previous quarter.

China scored a 69.7 DSI, outranking Germany and the U.S. Chinese digital satisfaction was driven mainly by high scores in Utility and Social. In fact, Chinese sites excelled in Social satisfaction at 73.7 (vs. 61.9 in the U.S. and 60.3 in Germany), and Chinese consumers also placed more importance on social interactivity.

German DSI (64.9) fell in the middle. While the DSI revealed potential for improvement, especially in Utility, German consumers were satisfied with Trust. And of the three nations, Germany scored the highest Privacy DSI. This is likely due to stronger EU privacy safeguards, like cookie opt-in consent, vs. other markets.

In all three countries, women were more satisfied with their online experiences than men. This satisfaction was mainly driven by the Social factor. While Millennials (aged 18-35) and Gen-Xers (36-51) aligned in terms of digital satisfaction, baby boomers (52-70) were the least satisfied generation, especially in China.