Deloitte released their third annual report on digital influence earlier this year and confirmed what we’ve all been thinking: consumers don’t shop the same way they did even 5 years ago.
I blame millennials. Those meddling kids.
According to Deloitte,
“...consumers’ digital behaviors and expectations are evolving faster than retailers are able to deliver, a gap we refer to as the ‘new digital divide.’ Some of the biggest players in retail have been reluctant or slow to understand or acknowledge this widening gap.”
It’s understandable to be reluctant to admit that you no longer have the power when it comes to purchasing decisions. But with 70% of customers inspiring their own shopping journeys and $1.3 trillion of in-store sales being digitally influenced in 2015, you’ll do so at your own peril (2).
It’s time to take a serious look at how consumer shopping journeys have changed.
Let’s start off with the basics: here’s the three main characteristics of the new consumer shopping journey:
1) They're Researchers
Consumers are no longer passive recipients of marketing and retailer designed journeys. Instead, they search out information -- and often find it outside of brand communications. Plus they’re researching in-store -- not just at home.
2) They're Not as Trusting
There’s lots of information out there, but it seems the information consumers trust most doesn’t come from brands or retailers.
Sources like social media, friends and family, and 3rd party influencers like bloggers are highly influential with consumers — usually because they aren’t affiliated with brands.
3) They Want to be Sure
Consumers want to know they’re choosing a good product -- 45% said their shopping behaviour is influenced directly by reviews (1). And consumers are 2x more likely to validate product choices using online reviews than by talking to a store associate -- except for in the US where almost half of consumers still talk to associates about their product decisions (1).
The Bottom Line
The way people shop has changed. Customers are actively carving their own shopping journeys and brands need to adapt to stay competitive.
But as Deloitte’s report pointed out, retailers don’t need to capture consumer attention at every stage of the shopping journey. The key is to understand where along the path to purchase you can make the biggest impact with customers. Then create messaging and promotions that appeal to them at those particular stages.
It means letting go of promotional, traffic driven approaches to marketing, and instead embracing the creation and curation of authentic human messaging that speaks directly to the consumer.