Consumer expectations and shopping habits are constantly evolving. How brands adapt to the constant evolution, from logistics and staffing to marketing strategy and tactics, ultimately determines whether they stay relevant in consumers’ eyes and their business continues to grow.
We’re witnessing another evolution in purchasing behavior, ushering in a new breed of consumers — the "buy it now" consumer. What exactly is the "buy it now’" consumer, what propelled their emergence, and what do brands need to know about them in 2022?
The Rise of the 'Buy it Now' Consumer
This evolution has been happening over the past several years and COVID may have been the tipping point for its ascension. Both email and SMS conversion rates have steadily grown, but saw a significant jump in early 2020, despite the fact click rates declined over this period — indicating more intent-based shopping where consumers identified products and made an immediate purchase. But that’s just the beginning.
As news of supply chain challenges dominated the headlines this past holiday season, it created a perfect storm of sorts. Online sales on Black Friday and Cyber Monday failed to increase year-over-year (YoY) for the first time. According to Adobe, YoY online sales were down 1.4 percent on Cyber Monday and 1.3 percent on Black Friday. But online shopping wasn’t.
Even though Black Friday and Cyber Monday failed to increase sales, overall online sales in November increased nearly 12 percent YoY. This coincides with the ever-increasing trend of Gray November. And not only did November sales increase, but discounts were generally lower. For example, Adobe found discounts on both electronics and sporting goods were more than 50 percent lower than in 2020.
Despite the fact deep discounts were on the horizon on those tentpole days, consumers didn't wait. They shopped earlier and with fewer discounts. They became "buy it now" consumers.
What the 'Buy it Now' Consumer Means for Brands
Brands wanting to increase sales among this new breed of consumers should look at maximizing the effectiveness of their marketing channels, especially email and SMS. By understanding the intent of the "buy it now" customer, they can adapt their messaging to better meet their intent and increase sales. Here are some tips for adjusting your marketing efforts to appeal to this new shopping mindset:
- Create a sense of urgency. Messaging like “Get it before it’s gone” and “These won’t last long” can appeal to the purchase intent and impatience of the customer. This messaging can be extra effective in behavior-based automated emails such as cart and browse abandonment and welcome messages. Be sure to reinforce a sense of urgency across all messages and channels.
- Run more flash sales. Nothing says “buy now” like a limited-time sale. Flash sales have a natural sense of urgency built into the promotion. To double the effectiveness, mix in some social proof like testimonials and customer ratings to make shoppers feel even more confident in making an immediate purchase — this is especially important for appealing to new potential customers.
- Shorten sale periods. Like a flash sale, brands can shorten the length of traditional sale periods — increasing the sense of urgency of the promotion. Having a sale last three days instead of five days can increase consumers’ fear of loss and reinforce the buy it now behavior. This will benefit brands during times of lower or no discounts.
- Use SMS marketing. This is a must! SMS and the "buy it now" shopper go together as well as peanut butter and jelly. Because recipients typically read a SMS within minutes of receipt, it's the ultimate immediacy marketing channel. SMS works great to promote flash sales and offer up last-chance reminders, and integrating them with your automated emails can maximize sales for those series of messages. This past holiday season, the Monday before Black Friday saw some of the highest conversion rates for SMS.
- Offer fewer discounts. Brands have backed themselves into a corner by offering deep discounts year after year. Consumers now expect them. However, this past holiday season showed us an opportunity to claw back on these deep discounts, especially when using a sense of urgency. Adjust and test your discount strategy in your automated messages and periodic sales. Fewer discounts equal greater profit.
Temporary Shift or Permanent Mindset?
Whether the "buy it now" behavior lasts remains to be seen, but all indications are that it's here to stay. After all, it was a progression, not an overnight occurrence. While some causes may have accelerated the shift in purchasing mindset, there was no single trigger event. Knowing this, brands can approach their marketing in a way that continues to establish this as permanent behavior and increase profits at the same time.
Greg Zakowicz is a veteran marketer and the director of content at Omnisend, the all-in-one e-commerce marketing automation platform.
Greg Zakowicz is a veteran marketer and the Director of Content at Omnisend. With 15-plus years of experience in email, mobile, and social media marketing, he’s helped over 100 DTC companies around the world, including numerous from the Internet Retailer Top 1000, maximize sales through their email marketing programs. Zakowicz is a frequent speaker at ecommerce events, often shares his ecommerce insights across various industry media outlets, has been retained as an ecommerce expert witness for trial, and is the host of Omnisend’s Cart Insiders Podcast.