Psychology

15 Trends of How We Prefer to Shop Today

Being part of a human nature, the way we shop continuously evolves around new tools that we create, which accelerate the way we make decisions and expand on our wired tendencies how to hunt for a good piece of game or a bush of berries if you wish. There are 15 common trends of how we prefer to shop these days that I collected from my recent readings and some educational sessions from the latest Shop.org event. Some you will definitely find typical of your current behavior and some may help you connect with your audience that you are selling to.

1. Shopping is social. Who does not love shopping? It is almost embedded into every day of our lives. If you do not shop, you definitely engage into bartering with your fellow homo sapiens or homo neanderthals (if that is your preferred social crowd). Thus, shopping is a very social experience. It does not stop being social even if you live in the mountains with goats as your only companions, as you will still have an internal evaluation dialog with your own self on which hill to drive your herd towards to.

These days, we share our “likes” with our Facebook friends, show them what we buy and require their feedback. Or we might be simply feeling exhilarated in the actual store, when we find a great item and wish to show it before we buy. I did that with my recent Ann Taylor dress, after my girlfriend approved my choice and shared my joy. In the end, I got more stuff! Coincidentally, the same Victoria Secret experience was not supported by the staff on the floor, as they strictly said: “You are not allowed to take pictures here”, when I tried to snap a picture of my precious find into my SnapTell app! I explained my innocent try to validate my purchase decision, but was rejected again with a “That is why we have catalogs!” response. “Well, I do not have your catalog right now and do not wish to see it and I cannot share it easily with my friend to decide to buy it or not”, I retorted. But, no luck, as my response was met with a blank face of a sale associate with a cold, “your-behavior-is-not-welcome-here-and-your-money-too” look.  That drove me towards a competitive store right away and followed by my immediate returns the day afterward. Embrace the evolution, VS and see how other stores make extra buck on it. Stop punishing me for shopping at your store! (A tip to the online marketers of VS: make sure your efforts of driving traffic to the stores are not killed at the time when your customers are about to part with their money by old-fashioned strategy of your sale staff. Talk to them often, or sometimes maybe?)

2. Shopping is everywhere, anywhere, even in the private restroom time. So be sure you are present online, mobile, on Google maps, on Yelp and every desktop or mobile application your customers might be using. They will not reward your absence at the point of their utmost desire to purchase if you do not show up where they are because you have a different web strategy. “Your customer will not stop if they find nothing on your establishment on Yelp and go home to research about it on their desktop.” The odds are they will spend their dollars elsewhere. Do you really want that?

3. Fast shopping is rewarded by more shopping. I mentioned Amazon Prime in my prior post (see 9), but it is still the best player that capitalizes on the core truth: the impulsive nature of buying. They made buying so fast, that it becomes as natural as breathing. It is not a process, but 1-2-3 click action of mine, as natural as my urge to buy this book right now. Another example is iPad. “It is on right away as electricity, as opposing to your common PC experience of turning it on, going to take a rest in the bathroom, coming back and logging in and going to put on some tea and coming back when it is finally on.” Make your product consumption or shopping process as fast as instant gratification and you will have my soul, my money and my all! This is how all of us think on the reptile brain level and behave accordingly.

4. People talk about their shopping, so make use of those talks. 75-85% of online shoppers read online reviews, as was the latest stat reported by Bazaarvoice folks. If your product, company or even your name is not surfacing via online conversations, I would be more hesitant to be the first one to experience “whatever-mystery-experience” other buyers might have had.  Turn your online reviews on! Follow online conversations pertaining to your products and brands. Monetize your reputation!

5. People buy based on reviews of strangers, not friends and family necessarily. We used to believe that only closer social circles would allow us to sway a buyer into our shop. As it stands today, people buy based on reviews of strangers (“wisdom of crowd”) very easily, so more support for point 4 above.

6. Negative reviews convert faster. How so? We all are unique and our preferences are so specific, that we need context to make a better comparison. If you find a good deal for a hotel, a 4 star, as an example, but see a negative review, you want to dig in and see what’s going on. You find out that the only thing that the person did not like was that at 7 am, there was no chocolate mint on his pillow, all else was superb. My bet you will book that room right away. The qualitative piece of human context in those reviews allows to decipher where you are at the multi-dimensional relativity of product experience within unique perceptions on what is great and what is bad.

7. People do not shop for just the cheapest thing. (Even if you are a mass retailer, the cheapest deal is not what everyone wants. Yes, Expedia, I am talking to you!). Most of us are very brand loyal and base our preferences on our experiences and perceptions of a product. Or similar experiences, not even connected to the product that are communicated to us via advertising that is as old as the hammer and works every time. So, make sure you learn those emotional triggers that describe and visualize how great it is to have your product in our lives and how miserable it could be if we do not have it. Only then, you will know how to promote them effectively and make us buy again and again.

8. We are 95% slaves of our habits. Do not make me leave my daily-rewarded conditioned experience and place, like Facebook. So, if we are used to spend our mornings and afternoons on Facebook, publicizing our personalized “me-celebrity” lives, please do not make us leave it. Why would I leave my comfortable, ego-stroking environment to buy? Can I buy while I am there, with all my fans, real and “not-so-real friends”? Start selling your products to my majesty where I am, that is Facebook, at least for the next year.

9. Consumers create their own experience and content, which sells better than yours! Various contests that companies have run exemplify how customers can be very innovative with producing great, engaging content. Craftsman brand lately launched the ultimate picnic contest on Facebook and had the most creative ideas generated by their customers based on this principle of crowd-sourcing. The winning option became a staple and a popular selling product.

10. Real interactions with real people do deliver vs. a pretend presence. If you are present online, make sure you engage with your customers via Twitter, Facebook or some other form/app as a human being and help them promptly if there is a problem vs. passive web screening. If there is a great contribution by your customer to promote your product that he or she has done on her own and delivered numerous sales to you, please reward them, acknowledge the same way as you would, if you were a small town baker. Do not just say: “Cool, great job!” on the Facebook wall. Do something about it as a human would. Otherwise, people do see your one-sided fake presence and eventually tune out. How would you feel if you brought $$$ to your favorite brand or store and they simply and cheaply thanked you?

11. Consumers create audience pools, followers & tribes around their consumption. Hall videos, as Mitch Joel shared in his speech, are a growing powerful trend. A 16-year girl shops and posts videos of her shopping finds. She describes her experience and the rationale behind the buy. She has million subscribers and does it religiously very frequently. Perhaps, it is not long till she gets an endorsement contract from a “faster” brand or a few of them to capitalize on the sizable audience. She might as well does it as a natural way to express herself, but what a find she could be for a smart marketer!

12. Powerful bloggers can create a havoc for your product promo or inventory management. Another story shared was about some powerful blogger that got a reference from his friend about a good travel bag (he had issues with his prior product). Well, the endorsed brand delivered so much to the relieved blogger that he created a video and a demo with love and posted it on his blog. He happened to be one of the top 150 Power bloggers and the item sold out very fast. Do you know your power bloggers?

13. Great marketing comes in simple forms. The evident success of Woot, Groupon & similar sites/apps lies in its simplicity to deliver one value a day or at a time. Could you deliver greatly on one claim vs. promising the sky and the earth? See, if you could simplify your marketing and a new business model might be very well born!

14. Checking in with you = professing their love for you = contributing to your sales. As we see with Foursquare and similar platforms, customers are willing to share their consumption stats with the whole world at times. By doing so, they profess their love for your brand.  So, reward and make them check-in for more. Starbucks does a great job “loyalising” its customers, while utilizing the same conditioning principle of a reward for a check-in as smart wife does for her husband!

15. Selling online without ecommerce. This happens when some brands really get their customers and engage very effectively with them on various channels on a daily basis without the ability to sell. They still drive them later to the stores to buy, but invest more into cultivating the brand loyalty and the urge to be on the top of their audience minds every day. Koji trucks hunt on Twitter created mass popularity for that restaurant. “If the truck can do that, you can do it too!”

That is all for this month, enough to ponder and act upon for you, a smart marketer!

Respective credits to:

|1) Shop.org 2010 Keynote with Mitch Joel, Social Commerce and Emerging Trends (that inspired this post! many thanks!); 2) Buyology, Martin Lindstrom; 3) Habit, the 95%  of behavior Marketers Ignore, Neale Martin; 4) Neuromarketing, Patrick Renvoise & Christophe Morin.|

Top 10 Emerging Consumer Behavior Trends in Recession

Recession…a word that everyone these days has had at least once on their minds. Changes in our personal lifestyles and even professional directions could not help but happen. There is not so much freedom of realizing our plans and dreams. There is not so much passion any more in things that fueled us before.  At the same time, the show must go on and if you are an observant marketer or a simple consumer, you must have started witnessing the following consumer trends driven by these challenging times.

1. “Sellsuming” – the increased need for cash prompted most consumers become “sellsumers” as the folks behind April’s 2009 trendswatching report named them.  Consumers become very creative in selling “extra” space, services or products.  Great examples include: renting space (residential and even parking), reselling unwanted clothes, furniture, jewelry, providing expert advice or extra help in gardening and on.  What have you done recently?

2. Fishing for low-cost entertainment - spending more time than money on entertainment, or getting entertained at home becomes another common pastime for recession-councious consumers. Some turn to online gaming, which is free and easily accessible, some arrange for more movie/favorite show nights using hulu.com or renting a bunch of DVDs on Netflix or elsewhere.  According to emarketers’ analyst Paul Verna, “comScore’s measurements (up 27% more unique visits and 42% more total playing time in December 2008 than in December 2007) highlight the ongoing shift from high-cost, console-based gaming toward free, browser-based alternatives.”

3. If affluent, buying more online with discretion - people with extra money now flock on web to keep their shopping lifestyle in a more discrete way.  According to emarketers’ article, affluent shoppers comprise of one fourth of all US internet audience, mostly focusing on buying PCs and mobile devices.  Online merchants – this is your audience to court these days!

4. Increased online services and social media usage – increased unemployment and job “insecurity” causes many people spend more time online while looking through the classified ads for jobs, services and then “some”.  According to the Pew Research Center, the use of online classified advertising Websites doubled from 2005 to 2009. Emarketer also points out that “Twenty-two percent of US Internet users went on the sites in 2005, and in 2009, the proportion climbed to 49%. Daily use went from 4% to 9% in the same timeframe”. The “some” represents becoming more engaged in social networking sites to collectively share ideas, connections and any other information that simultaneously adds flavor to the trends # 6, 9 and 10.

5. Smart shopping – looking for bargains offline and online becomes more usual pastime in efforts to economize on price and value, while trading in more time. Internet shopping again becomes a more preferable channel to accommodate this buying behavior. Do you use any of the shared secrets to get your best deals?

6. Increased propensity to social harmony - our natural inclination to re-prioritize our values in “cold and severe” economic climate drives us to spend more time with our families, friends and loved ones. We tend to turn to our families to get through the tough slides on the way.  Companies that cater to these emerging “quality time” experiences can bolster loyalty and engagement of their existing customers and gain a number of new ones!

7. Increased value of health - focusing on health as the “real wealth” motivates increased popularity of engaging into various sports activities to maintain this “somewhat” controllable asset we all have. Finding happiness in health of bodies versus stock market is much more feasible and tangible. While gyms owners might ponder on this trend, consumers can still choose from a variety of free alternatives, including jogging, walking and biking.

8. Skills enhancement and training - laid off or not, people tend to become more genuinely interested in continuing their education to add value to their employability, or to cope with the reduced resources to maintain their career or a small business or to get distracted from the “depressed job market”.

9. More love and dating - who knew that recession induces romance? According to NYTimes, “Online and offline matchmakers are reporting that dating interest is up, way up. Match.com, for instance, had its strongest fourth quarter in the last seven years, and brick-and-mortar outfits like Amy Laurent International, a matchmaking service with outposts in New York, Los Angeles and Miami, say business is up 40 percent among women over the last four months.” The reasons vary from more time on hands due to being unemployed or underemployed, more affordable way to meet singles online to seeking comfort in relationships during the difficult times (closer to trend # 6)!

10. Cooking from scratch to save and have fun - less money as discretional income translates into less often dining out and more cooking at home choices. Simultaniously, the propensity to cherish relationships and social affiliations drives consumers to arrange for more cookout get-togethers. Sharing a meal made from scratch both provides quality dining experience and befriends all engaged participants!

I am sure there are more peculiar trends out there that define the recession market these days. If you know of any that I missed and you see their popularity rising – share with us and add your comments!

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