React to What Consumers Need Now, Smith Advises
Beyond the myriad of problems affecting so many businesses this year, you know what else is causing trouble? Consumers aren’t finding shopping fun anymore. During a presentation at the NEMOA Spring Conference in Boston in mid-March, Monica Smith, president/CEO of Morristown, N.J.-based marketing resources firm Marketsmith Inc., shared results of a recent consumer focus group her firm conducted. She offered several pointers on how marketers should react this year.
“This year,” she said, “consumers are trying not to buy something, as opposed to just a few months ago.”
In sharing some of her findings, as well as those from recent BIGresearch data, she noted how some keywords to describe multichannel shopping from just last year, such as entertainment, mindless, luxury and even American dream, have been replaced this year by necessity and void, among others.
She noted that 57 percent of consumers from a recent BIGresearch report said they're more focused on needs over wants, and just one in five consumers were confident in the economy a couple of months ago. Also, in sharing some information she gathered from Marketsmith’s consumer focus group, she showed how many of the mothers in that group said they’d cut back on children’s clothing purchases this year.
“They’re still buying, and gift giving isn’t over,” Smith said. “But ostentatiousness is over. Consumers are more focused on sales than they were in the past.”
She offered the following data as well:
- on average, people in her focus group receive 25 to 35 catalogs per week;
- the main reasons given why people shop through catalogs are for unique items, gifts and instant gratification;
- consumers receive 10 to 40 e-mails a day and are more inclined to open those that offer some sort of deal;
- paid search is used “less than we expect”; and
- half of Marketsmith’s focus group said green initiatives were important to them.
She closed with several pointers, all focused on the current year and challenges ahead:
- Make your message critical and relevant.
- Show customers you’re willing to do your part in this bad economy.
- If you’re giving away something, indicate why you’re doing it.
- Consider getting into kiosks and retail pop-up stores.
“I don’t think the days of being able to mail the same circulation [of print catalogs] are coming back,” Smith said. “The reality is, if you want to grow, you’ll have to find more outside sources. Consider DRTV, postcards, banner advertising and local media.”