A 4-dimensional view of the digitally-engaged consumer Article from Research News
A 4-dimensional view of the
What people do versus
what they say they do
For marketers, technology opens up new communication channels and a wealth
of targeting capabilities. But it’s a balancing act - what, where and when, let
alone how to then substantiate and track the results. Elizabeth May investigates.
he way consumers shop today has changed considerably. Technology creates endless opportunities for
consumers to search and purchase products, and to
interact with brands.
Technology has also transformed the personality of
brands – they crave Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter followers.
Australia’s 2013 online spend came in at $14.4 billion (NAB
Online Retail Index), backing up the need for better customer
Thankfully, moving at the same pace is the release of
research technologies that bring us a 360° view of consumer
attitudes, needs and behaviour.
Consumers’ online lives are no longer a mystery – they can
be metered, tracked and cookied using precise, opt-in tools.
With this in mind, Research Now leveraged the singlesource methodology and complemented it with multiple
technologies to explore how the traditional lines up against
But did it provide us with the right balance of consumer
Using the same panellists across different studies, we
surveyed consumers in the US and UK to review shopping
habits with an online questionnaire. This was complemented
by passive data for website visitation (via PC or mobile) and,
lastly, in-store visitation captured by users’ GPS-enabled
discover, learn from and adapt brand strategies accordingly as consumers are engaging in a more complex path
What people say they search for online compared to what
they actually do online are not the same. Surveys state the
truth but we need more contextual data to understand the
full path to purchase.
I may have decided to buy a new iPad for Christmas
but what I saw online or in-store led me to buy something
different. Understanding all touchpoints is crucial as each
presents a different opportunity.
The traditional path to purchase has changed beyond
recognition. New channels in the shopping experience,
such as mobile, are not as predictable as established PC
behaviours. Consumers are more likely to do what they say
they will when it comes to shopping via PC, but this does
not translate to mobile or in-store shopping.
Smartphone apps are a significant opportunity for brands
given the amount of time and tasks performed on smartphones. Nevertheless, the technology is young in terms of
adoption and learnings, and still needs to develop its own
voice to capture consumers’ attention ‘in the moment’.
Open-ended responses from a survey question (‘If money
was no object, what is the one thing you would like to
receive this holiday?’) were mapped with search terms
collected from behavioural tracking. Coded responses
covered many categories but not the most prevalent item
searched online (onesies and Ugg boots!).
Here’s what we found:
It is imperative to measure and evaluate consumer
behaviours holistically – there’s a more complex world to
Research News February 2014
We selected a list of the 20 most popular retailers and tracked
respondents’ behaviours via PC and smartphone. For the first
time we were able to access a complete picture of consumer
behaviour, and to start noting new consumer trends.
Reading the chart: The blue bars show results from GPS,
location-based mobile data, purple bars show website visitation via mobile while red bars show website visitation via PC.
As noted in the blue bars, November 22 was Thanksgiving
Day. Three days prior, shopping in-store was high in preparation for the holiday, but on the 22nd traffic was lower, as
most stores were closed for family holidays.
But what else were they doing in addition to spending
time with their families?
The other bars (in purple and red), indicate they were
also on their PCs, browsing retailers’ websites and searching for upcoming Black Friday deals – when the US online
retail world goes crazy on promotion.
The success of online sales is further supported by higher
PC and mobile activity on Black Friday when shoppers chose
to purchase in the peace of their own homes. In addition,
mobile traffic peaked on the weekend, which aligns with the
industry trend. This presents a new opportunity for brands
to engage differently with consumers on weekends versus
phones with an activated GPS location-based capability.
There was a clear mis-alignment between the survey and
passive behavioural data. Respondents didn’t visit the stores
they mentioned in the online survey.
PC browsing is more established. Our survey and behavioural data were closely aligned as respondents browsed the
same websites via PC they said they were going to browse
in the survey. However with mobile website browsing, the
opposite happened – respondents said they were going to
browse certain websites on their mobile device but didn’t
visit the same websites as intended.
Smartphone app usage
When we tracked mobile devices against consumer reported
intent, there were notable differences. Respondents with
apps on their smartphones didn’t use them when in-store
for key retailers. Yes, they were busy on their phones but
the majority spent time on Facebook, videos and games and
not on related retail activity.
So, I put it to you, do new technologies provide us with
the right balance of consumer insights when compared to
traditional surveys? It’s an overwhelming ‘YES’- and the
insights are also richer.
Elizabeth May, client development vice president, Research Now
To evaluate physical store visitation, we asked respondents
to report which retailers they were planning to visit. For
the same purpose, we tracked respondents on their smart-
This article is based upon the paper ‘A 4-Dimensional View of the
Digitally Engaged Consumer’ by Maria Domoslawska (Research Now)
and Heather Dougherty (Experian Marketing Services).
Research News February 2014 13