What publishers can learn from consumer online shopping behavior
Are you tracking what is being said about your organization on social media? "Companies simply must pay attention to these sites and communities, and find ways to engage and follow the social networks around your business, product and industry," writes Larry Kramer in his C-Scape blog.
In making that salient point, Kramer points us in the direction of the AMP Agency's recent "Inside the Buy" Consumer Shopping Survey. The study, which focused on the digital behaviors in five leading consumer categories: consumer electronics, baby products, food and beverages, health and beauty, and fashion, brings out some points of interest to digital publishers.
Brand loyalty is diminishing
In the survey, which included 865 consumers between the ages of 25-49, there was a marked shift in the path to purchase. The consumer conception of brand loyalty is also changing. The study found that only 3% of consumers admitted to being loyal to a particular brand. While I'm not sure I agree with so small a number, clearly the consumer conception of brand loyalty has ventured further into the corner of the smart consumer than it has in the past. And that's good news. It clears the field for digital publishers, through trust, to gain in mindshare.
AMP Agency reminds us that the traditional path to "purchase impact" has always been awareness, consideration, purchase, loyalty and then, if well earned, evangelism. The "Inside the Buy" survey finds a new path, moving abruptly from a passive consumer state toward active evaluation through the consideration phase, which leads to:
Information gathering is more important than ever
The consideration phase involves research through information gathering. The consumer electronics category leads the pack, with 64% reporting that they engage in information gathering. After the consumer electronics category is baby products, where 44% of consumers admitted to doing some form of product research. In the health and beauty category, 34% reported that they did so. Finally, in both the food and beverages and fashion categories, nearly one in four respondents admitted to gathering information before making a purchase.
The survey found that almost half (47%) of consumers look to a brand website for pre-purchase research, while 46% report visiting a retailer's website first. Websites dedicated to reviews and social media sites come close, with 40% of consumers saying they visited sites dedicated to reviews and 38% doing research on social media websites.
Information gathering in the digital age now involves corporate and retailer websites, text messaging, blog reviews, consumer review websites and, of course, social media. For digital publishers, social media is the key. Once again: Are you paying attention to and engaging with what is being said about your organization on social media?
Consumers want more information, not less
From the second point comes the third, namely: consumers want more information. This should be of particular interest to digital publishers of consumer reviews. The survey suggests that there is a felt need there: Just 4% of consumers polled felt overwhelmed by the sheer amount of research available in any of the categories, while the rest want more opportunities to research products in those categories.
It's clear from the survey results that the consumer path to purchase now heavily involves information gathering -- through the usual digital suspects -- before eventually arriving at the coveted "loyalty loop." Digital publishers that understand these shifts can use these insights to improve their own methods for engaging and providing vital information to consumers.