The connected shopper
Treating shopping channels as touchpoints and understanding how consumers use them in specific categories is key to success in the path to purchase and beyond.
In Connected Life, a comprehensive global study of more than 55,000 internet using consumers, TNS discovered almost half of evening television viewers screen stack digital activities like social media, emailing, or shopping.
Reaching consumers is no longer about their level of web access, but of their usage of and attitudes toward different devices at different times.
Connecting with the moment of truth
Australians own around five connected devices each, spending 3.3 hours online daily, so how do Aussie brands communicate with some of the world’s most connected consumers?
By identifying specific contexts in which consumers connect at a granular level, tailored, relevant, context specific, and scalable experiences can be delivered to different groups at any touchpoint (online, offline or instore). Despite the more digitally advanced consumers relying on more touch points, they use them all to guide their purchase no matter what they buy.
Figuring out which moment of truth applies to which potential customer lies in unlocking behavioural patterns. This enables brands to support purchase paths and deliver against short and long term marketing objectives.
Perhaps more intuitively true for big ticket purchases where shoppers satisfy heuristic decision making needs with research, the same process also applies to more frequent regular purchases. Regardless of category, there are nuances in how consumers choose to be exposed to market information in both their chosen channel and stage of purchase.
Connecting the dots
Rarely is a single channel independently sufficient to successfully market in any given category. In most cases, fewer than 10 per cent of shoppers took no pre-purchase decision making steps, although a quarter of personal care product purchasers transact without research – they buy what they know. Even in this category, 75 per cent of shoppers may be influenced.
Bricks and mortar remains fundamental to Australian shopping, fulfilling important needs not satisfied by online search. Accordingly, pre-purchase instore visitation also varies – from 16 per cent booking a holiday,to 52 per cent wanting a new car. Other touchpoints also feed into the journey, and taken together reinforce the need for an integrated marketing communications strategy.
Connecting with your customer
Let’s consider how different people shop a specific category enroute to purchase by examining two of the four consumer types who travel.
‘Leaders’ are digitally and socially active, while ‘Functionals’ use the same online tools, albeit with a degree of aloofness. Each accounts for more than 30 per cent of internet using consumers.
Category insights reveal many similarities: the core role of online in travel planning is clear as virtually the same proportion of both consumer types use search engines, provider websites and agent sites, with around one third of both also heading instore at some point while planning.
It is their usage that highlights key differences and potential for mass and micro targeting. Forty seven per cent of leaders consult online sources, whereas just 28 per cent of functionals reach out in that manner.
Twenty per cent of functionals versus 13 per cent of leaders browse in an agency, with just 17 per cent and nine per cent respectively consulting traditional travel brochures.
A role for instore special offers remains in this category, influencing 14 per cent of leaders and five per cent of functionals.
In a less considered category, personal care, functionals were behind all segments using online touchpoints (57 per cent versus 75 to 80 per cent), but this proportion flipped for referencing instore touch points. It’s worth noting that there are no non-digital segments – it is a case of understanding relative influences of touchpoints.
Connecting with behaviours
Now we need to understand why they act the way they do, for example, search engines are used more in the discovery phase of travel suggesting SEM/SEO strategies around inspiration.
Hotel websites play a vital role for final decisions bringing the product/purchase to life. In personal care, leaders are more interested in discovering new products, while functionals leverage touchpoints to lock down and validate their choice.
Overall, friends and family are strong offline influences in this category, with instore and online roughly equally relevant throughout the journey.
Treat purchasing as a cycle rather than funnel and learn how your customer type drives this. In travel, 54 per cent of functionals and 72 per cent of leaders did further research or sharing post experience, but in personal care the proportion is higher – 85 per cent of functionals and 88 per cent of leaders did something, whether visiting a brand website, interacting with instore staff, or posting a user review or social media.
Connecting channels as touch points
Understanding the role of devices and channels within a consumer’s day provides new opportunities to engage in context. So while media fragmentation may make mass targeting more challenging, it provides robust, precise, scalable targeting. Understanding and focusing on online, offline, and instore touchpoints is critical to keeping your brand at the forefront, guiding your consumers toward purchase, and beyond, to recommendation.
Rob Kramer is a digital consultant at TNS Australia, part of the world’s largest shopper insights agency.