Decoding customer values: A comprehensive report on what matters most to your shoppers

By adding a human layer to numbers-based demographics, businesses can connect with customers on a more meaningful level and redefine their relationship with them. PayPal conducted a survey with global users to better understand what they value and how those values impact their purchase decisions.

Online retail sales grew by 16.3% from 2021 to 2022 and represented 19% of total retail sales. But the story goes so much deeper than that. Anticipating and evolving with customer expectations has never been more important to long-term success. To accomplish this today, you need to know your customers like never before. PayPal conducted extensive research to understand the core customer values, decision drivers, and even shopping preferences of millions of users worldwide to achieve this goal.

The research aimed to understand where PayPal customers stand on 56 core human values in five key markets and then compared those results to the general population. Understanding what customers value is key to identifying how their expectations of brands and shopping experiences have changed. These insights can help build customer strategies that help businesses acquire, convert, and retain a high-value audience, which spends 12% more on average and completes 34% more checkouts2.

Read on to discover our key findings and start seeing the bigger picture when it comes to what consumers value. Find out the key to creating value for customers.

Why understanding customer values is important for business growth

We surveyed customers in five key markets. PayPal customers said they value:

  • Security

54% of PayPal customers ranked security as one of their top 10 values. In addition, 41% of consumers report feeling either very or extremely concerned about the security of their eCommerce digital accounts. And 39% of consumers say that they have become more protective of their personal data in the last six months.

  • Experience

47% of PayPal customers ranked experiences as one of their top 10 values. Over one-third of respondents had considered “breaking up” with a brand, not because of their products or services, but because of what they perceived to be a poor customer experience. 58% of surveyed consumers said customer experience is one of the most important factors when making a purchase decision.

  • Loyalty

59% of PayPal customers ranked loyalty as one of their top 10 values. 39% of customers have changed brand retailers in the last two years, and 79% of customers are looking to explore their retailer options.

Why demographics don’t cut it, and why you should care

Understanding customer needs is the foundation of any business. While that’s not a groundbreaking revelation, there are different ways you can approach this first step.

One of the biggest shifts we’re seeing is that customers are no longer all about possessions. They’re more focused on experiences. By looking into core values such as these, you can start to piece together how they affect their decisions. What gets them out of bed every morning? What brings them joy? What leaves them feeling good about their daily decisions?

By adding a human layer to numbers-based demographics, businesses can connect with customers on a more meaningful level, and go on to redefine and deepen their relationship with them.

Why customer values have evolved

When we look beyond the numbers to look at customers on a deeper level, there’s a new element we need to consider – human nature. Whereas numbers are often hard and fast, people’s values and actions aren’t always set in stone. They are in constant flux, with new ideas, technological possibilities, and new experiences. No matter how well your business is tracking these evolutions, it can be hard to distinguish what is a genuine trend and what’s a flash in the pan.

A recent survey shows that 42% of shoppers realize they need to focus on others more than themselves. This has caused a change in buying habits, and created major opportunities for businesses to reset their strategies to better align with these new expectations.

For example, 53% of shoppers consider whether a company has strong values before making a purchase; 48% prioritize supporting local communities; and 51% value transparent product origins. Furthermore, they also cited issues like data protection as a factor that impacts their trust in brands “to a great extent”. These are shifts that businesses can directly respond to while knowing they’re directly addressing a significant number of shoppers’ concerns and expectations.

Security as a core customer value

The first key finding our research revealed was that security takes greater precedence for PayPal customers compared to the general population. To be specific, 54% of Global PayPal customers ranked security in their top 10 set of core values.

Why shopper security is the key to acquiring customers

Not only is security an important factor for PayPal customers, it’s also been a focus for shoppers around the world in recent years. In fact, eCommerce lost an estimated $20 billion to online payment fraud in 2021. These increasing losses were not lost on customers, as we see in their heightened sensitivity to security and data protection. 41% of surveyed customers reported feeling “very” or “extremely” concerned about the security of their digital accounts, and 59% say that they have become more protective of their personal data in the last six months alone.

It’s no surprise that this directly affects how customers relate to brands. Almost half reported that a brand’s ability to protect their personal data impacts how much they trust that brand “to a great extent”. It goes without saying that a secure payment offering is crucial for businesses looking to acquire new customers.

How PayPal can help you improve customer security

PayPal is ranked one of the most trusted brands to help keep financial information secure when it comes to digital payments. Our customers feel the same way, with 69% saying they feel more secure shopping with merchants that support PayPal. This added layer of trust can give you even greater visibility with a large group of shoppers that value security above all else.

“The relationship we have with PayPal has been extremely positive and it has allowed us to reach more people around the world, which has been crucial to our growth. And having that type of relationship with the PayPal team is super rewarding.”

—David Serpa, Director of Finance and Corporate Treasury, Younique

Experience as a core customer value

Another key finding we uncovered with PayPal customers is that a great experience goes a long way. If a business is lacking in this respect, they don’t only risk losing a sale but also risk alienating loyal customers.

In today’s digital-first world, businesses are under pressure to deliver a fast and seamless customer experience. With an average of 7 in 10 shopping carts abandoned globally, the risk is more pronounced than ever. But it’s not just sales – research shows that bad CX can also damage a brand’s relationship with the customer. Over one-third of people surveyed had considered “breaking up” with a brand because of a poor experience alone.

But when it works, it truly pays off. Exceeding customer expectations on experience is just as significant a differentiator as price or quality. In fact, 94% of customers surveyed acknowledged the impact of customer experience, while more than half said it’s one of the most important factors in their decision making.

How can PayPal help improve your customer experience

Multi-channel experiences have become the norm for customers, so businesses looking to drive conversions need to make sure they deliver on every front. From shopping via social platforms to purchasing through partner websites, PayPal helps to ensure businesses have the tools they need to flawlessly execute whatever is new and now in the eCommerce world. As well as reducing friction, you’ll be adding the payment flexibility customers have come to know and love these past few years. With 67% of customers deciding how they will pay before they checkout, offering flexible payment options is key to making sure that sales make it across the finish line.

Loyalty as a core customer value

Our final key finding goes right to the heart of the matter – loyalty, which ranked in the top 10 core values for 59% of PayPal customers.

Why loyalty helps retain customers

The recent economic volatility has done a number on brand loyalty. More than 75% of customers changed their spending habits in the last two years, while 39% changed their brand retailers. So, what have businesses done after this big shake-up to deliver an experience that builds brand loyalty? One key winner is personalized experiences, with 71% of customers surveyed saying they prefer customized communication, and 76% becoming angry when they don’t receive it. But they aren’t just nice for customers to have, they also lead to more sales. Digitally native brands drive 53% more loyalty and 81% more purchases through personalization, and these loyal customers can be vital to businesses – especially in a volatile market.

How PayPal can help you drive and retain loyal customers

PayPal can help businesses boost affinity, drive brand loyalty, and retain customers with a positive and seamless payment experience. In fact, recent survey results showed that PayPal increases repeat purchases by 13% from the same merchant. Plus, PayPal’s compelling rewards and incentives do their part to help keep customers coming back. Start maximizing the value of your customers by connecting loyalty programs to payment activities, and with purchase experiences that can increase order frequency and customer satisfaction.

Making the most of shifting values

Open your business to more possibilities with PayPal. We know that winning hearts, minds, and sales doesn’t just happen at checkout but throughout the entire customer journey. That’s why we’re constantly innovating to develop new solutions, beyond transactional payment tools, that will help you acquire, convert, and retain more customers.

  • Acquisition 

Our customers value security, and they’ve put their trust in PayPal. Offering our products and solutions can help you win over millions of shoppers around the globe who already use and trust PayPal.

  • Conversion

Experience matters to PayPal customers, so when you offer flexible payment options and shopping incentives, they notice. Reduce cart abandonment, re-engage customers, and increase conversion with PayPal.

  • Retention

Retaining customers is not just about what you offer, it’s about how you offer it. When you offer a positive, seamless buying experience, you’ll be on your way to earning customer loyalty, driving repeat purchases. Maximize the value of your customers with loyalty programs, and create purchase experiences that keep them coming back.

PP Value graphics Report (PDF)

PP Value graphics Report (PDF)

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