A 4-dimensional view of the digitally-engaged consumer Article from Research News


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A 4-dimensional view of the digitally-engaged consumer Article from Research News

  1. 1. FEATURE A 4-dimensional view of the digitally-engaged consumer 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. T 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 understanding. 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 the new? But did it provide us with the right balance of consumer insights? 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 smartphones. discover, learn from and adapt brand strategies accordingly as consumers are engaging in a more complex path to purchase. 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’. Findings 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 12 Research News February 2014 The details Search
  2. 2. FEATURE Traffic Traffic 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 weekdays. 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. Website visitation 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. Store visitation 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