As we all know, digital media has exploded in recent years, leading to the proliferation of countless websites that aggregate deals, ratings and reviews, or otherwise inform consumers about how to shop and what to buy.
The rise of mobile technology is also starting to have an impact on the shopping experience. Customers comparison shop via their smartphones while standing right in the store aisle. In fact, our research shows that many Canadians are right at home shopping online and would be happy to never to set foot in a traditional store again.
This led us to ask a simple question, “In a world with so many available options and information, what should retailers and brands be doing to court this new digital (social) customer?”
Last week I had the opportunity to share our findings during a presentation at the Retail Advertising and Marketing Symposium, presented by the Retail Council of Canada and Retail Advertising and Marketing Canada.
This year’s event, held at the International Centre, cast a spotlight on the opportunities and challenges retailers face in keeping up with technology—a topic we examined in our latest DIG report entitled, The Social Shopper: A Lens into the Future of Retail Experiences.
As we dug into the data, collected through our proprietary AskingCanadians™ online community, we were most interested in the behaviour of a group we refer to as social shoppers—individuals that use digital technology as a lifeline to friends, family and the digital universe at large. They own a lot of technology and they’re heavy users of social media.
Although this is still a niche group of Canadians, it’s a fast growing group and it’s not all made up of millennials, geeks or people living in cities. These are everyday people that are using digital technology to change the way we interact with them.
Insights into Consumer Behaviour
While it remains true that digital behaviours vary from product to product, and from person to person, the data provides the following insights into consumer behaviour:
• Sixty-one per cent of shoppers surveyed research products online prior to making a purchase. And, they do so at least 50 per cent of the time.
• Sixty-five per cent of Canadian shoppers look for consumer reviews and recommendations while researching online, this is second only to price.
• One in five Canadian smartphone owners use their phones to search for product recommendations while shopping.
• One third of smartphone owners have used their phones to take pictures of a product while shopping.
Putting the Data To Use
So what does this mean for retailers and brand managers? What should they be doing to court the new consumer?
Well, at the highest level, our research finds that there are three calls to action. The first is to COLLABORATE. Retailers and brands need to work together to better understand this future consumer that they share, and what they want from the product and their experience of purchasing it.
Secondly, invite consumers to PARTICIPATE. The social shopper wants to contribute and influence the experience and products they buy. They want what they want when they go shopping and they expect to be heard. But they are not only more demanding, they are also more willing to help.
And finally, ANTICIPATE. That is to say, learn from your most connected social shoppers who are at the forefront of digital media, challenging and communicating with brands and other shoppers, and demanding more engaging, more compelling experiences all around.
Simply put, the media industry did not embrace digital and the changing face of the consumer market. As a result, many are still suffering from a very bad hangover. Mobile, social and new digital technologies can in fact be powerful tools to drive sales, improve customer satisfaction and build brand loyalty!
Adopt the social shoppers’ perspective and let them serve as your lens into the future of the retail experiences.