Q4 Northwestern University and Performics Digital Satisfaction Index (DSI™) Measures Online Consumer Satisfaction in the U.S., Germany & China

Study finds Chinese most satisfied with digital experience, privacy
concerns impact U.S.

  • Digital Satisfaction Index measures consumer attitudes, perceptions of
    online marketing
  • Major factors driving consumer digital satisfaction: trust, utility,
    social and privacy
  • Among key findings: Women are more satisfied with consumer experience
    than men

EVANSTON, Ill.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A pioneering research partnership between Medill
Integrated Marketing Communications
(IMC) and Performics
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
, 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 (see more below).

“The quarterly Digital Satisfaction Index gives us a consistent
benchmark on how consumers perceive their interactions with brands,
websites and apps,” said Frank Mulhern, professor and associate of
Medill’s (IMC) program. “The Index also gives us unique insight into
what matters most to consumers. For instance, social interactivity holds
special importance to consumers in China, while trust is critical in

“The research illustrates how important consumer feedback is to brand
success,” said Michael Kahn, CEO of Performics Worldwide and Global
Performance Practice Lead, Publicis Media.

“The DSI report makes it clear that brands seeking a satisfaction boost
should allocate resources to utility first—fine-tuning landing pages,
streamlining experiences, aligning user experience with consumer intent
and eradicating user hurdles,” Kahn said. “But beyond utility, U.S.
brands, in particular, continue to lag in creating user comfort around
data collection practices.”

“All brands should look to create more social interactivity, which
powered Chinese satisfaction in this latest study,” Kahn added.
“Community feedback is integral in the consumer purchase journey, and
sites that excel in social integration can separate themselves from the

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).

Across both Q3 and Q4 of the DSI, the researchers consistently observed
that in every intent-moment—a moment where consumers have a want or need
that brands can satisfy—consumer satisfaction is dependant on these four
factors. However, based on the vertical and market, the priority of
these needs can change.

The overall DSI score, based on a 100-point scale, indicates how
satisfied users are with these four primary factors, weighted by their
importance to respondents.

The full
provides insights into why the online experience of consumers
in the U.S., China and Germany differ so significantly. One major driver
is the varying degree of digital literacy among survey respondents.

“It’s important to keep in mind that a major driver to digital
satisfaction for consumers is digital literacy, which can vary with age
and education,” said Ashlee Humphreys, principal researcher for the
Intent Lab. “Marketers need to keep in mind that not all consumers are
equally savvy and can easily become frustrated and overwhelmed. This
impacts their perceptions of utility dramatically, which are most
important in determining satisfaction.”

Among the findings:

  • Privacy Is a Deal-Breaker in the U.S.: 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
  • Chinese Consumers are the Most Satisfied: 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.
  • Germany Excels in Privacy and Trust: 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.
  • Women More Satisfied than Men: In all three countries, women
    were more satisfied with their online experiences than men. This
    satisfaction was mainly driven by the Social factor.
  • Baby Boomers Least Satisfied: 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

About Performics

As the original performance marketing agency, Performics converts
consumer intent into revenue for the world’s most admired brands. Across
an expansive global network operating in 57 countries, Performics
creates connected and personalized digital experiences across paid,
owned and earned media. RECMA recognized Performics as one of its Top
Digital Agency Networks. Headquartered in Chicago, Performics is a
Publicis Media company. To learn more, visit www.performics.com.

About Northwestern University Medill School

Medill, a leader in education since 1921, offers programs in journalism
and integrated marketing communications that combine enduring skills and
values with new techniques and knowledge that are essential to thrive in
today’s digital world. Medill has a long-standing reputation for
academic excellence. As the media industry experiences unprecedented
change, Medill leads the way. The school’s graduate and undergraduate
programs are educating a new generation of multimedia journalists and
integrated marketing communications professionals who are not only
thriving in this evolving media landscape but also helping to shape it.


Northwestern University Medill School
Erin Karter

Erica McDonald