As consumers continue to embrace all things digital to enhance their shopping experience, Forrester is conducting a series of research studies on the consumer’s new path to purchase. My colleague Cory Madigan introduces the first report in this series, focused on the buy phase of the customer life cycle. Here’s her take on these new behaviors:
Digital channels and devices have enabled today’s consumers to be more discerning about how they buy, from where, and at what prices. This disrupted “path to purchase” has complicated the marketer’s job as she tries to reach her shopper with more timely and relevant offers, both online and off. Particularly at the start of the buying process, consumers are doing more research online than ever. Which sites do they find most helpful when making a purchase decision? Forrester's recent North American Technographics® Consumer Deep Dive survey showed that about 1 in 5 found Google and Amazon most helpful, while half as many found traditional stores or websites most helpful. What other key trends should shopper marketers be aware of in 2012?
Today’s shopper is fluent in multiple channels and focused on value. Eighty-two percent of consumers researched a product before buying it, and nearly two-thirds of respondents say they pay more attention to prices and value now than they did a year ago. The savings mentality brought on by the Great Recession hasn’t eroded over time; progressive marketers will adapt to this new reality by shifting their focus away from competing on price and toward delivering superior value to shoppers. Emphasize retention and use smarter targeting to get your product in front of the right person at the right time.
Shopper marketing is going digital, providing shopper marketers with a plethora of new high-buzz technologies, devices, and platforms to communicate messaging, promotions, or content to their shoppers along their path to purchase. But with limited budgets, and such a wealth of options, which ones should they choose? To help shopper marketers prioritize their technology investments in 2012 and beyond, my colleague Cory Madigan and I evaluated 17 digital tools for using Forrester’s TechRadar™ methodology. The highlight trends reveal that:
Cool isn’t necessarily critical . . . yet. Social networking pages, interactive displays, and QR codes get a lot of attention in the marketing world, but we found that in terms of shopper marketing utility, real shoppers aren’t quite as smitten. The opportunity is there, but lack of scale, measurement, and clear value for the consumer has limited the traction of many of the more talked-about technologies in the digital shopper marketing arsenal.
The digital oldies are still the ROI goodies. When it comes to shopper utility, consumers and marketers still rely most on brand websites, content that brands create for specific retailers, and email to deliver the value they seek. Rather than being replaced by new technology, watch for these platforms to become better optimized for mobile. With mobile optimization, shopper marketers will be able to tie shoppers’ online activities at home — on a PC or tablet — to their smartphone activities while on-the-go.
As the economic malaise lingers on, a more frugal consumer mindset is spurring consumers to embrace new digital technologies to make more informed buying decisions. This shift in behavior is releasing shopper marketing from the confines of the store walls, as consumers make purchase decisions at home and on-the-go. Once a tactical outpost in the sales organization, shopper marketing is now being embraced by forward-thinking marketers like Kellogg’s and Clorox, which are focused on getting on their consumer’s shopping list before she even gets to the store. But with this new opportunity comes potential organization confusion. Where does shopper marketing end and brand marketing begin? And where should it sit in the organization? Check out my report, “Shopper Marketing Breaks Out Of The Store,” to find out how consumers' shopping habits are changing, how retailers are responding, and what it means for brand marketers.
How is your consumer shopping differently? And how is shopper marketing changing your organization? Answer here or join the discussion on The Forrester Community For CMO & Marketing Leadership Professionals here.