The Changing Consumer Journey and How People Will Shop in the Future
As consumers’ behaviors and priorities are constantly shifting, so are their purchasing journeys. How exactly is that journey changing, and what factors make the difference between a completed purchase and an abandoned shopping cart? With access to more tools than ever to research brands and product reviews, consumers’ expectations have dramatically increased. Today’s marketer has to look beyond the traditional purchasing journey to meet the needs of the modern consumer and put the customer first.
Valassis and Kantar recently surveyed 1,000 consumers to get a better sense of what the consumer journey looks like today (e.g., consumer motivations, what moves consumers from one stage of the buying journey to the next) and uncover insights on the future of shopping. The survey focused on five retail categories: cleaning, skincare, grocery, electronics, and restaurants. Overall, our research revealed five key takeaways around the motivations that are driving consumer decision-making:
1. Consumers welcome information and are more informed.
Our unprecedented access to information means that virtually anything anyone wants to know about a product or service is available online. This reality has had a significant influence on how people make purchasing decisions. We found that 60 percent of people research products online before making a purchase, and 62 percent read a product’s label carefully before buying it. Instead of feeling overloaded by information, 68 percent of people say they feel more qualified to make an informed decision on a purchase.
2. Discovery is important ... but so is efficiency.
A majority of people (61 percent) say they enjoy finding new products and consider shopping an enjoyable, easy-going excursion. This leads to spontaneous purchases when consumers encounter unforgettable experiences. However, once consumers know what they want, they’re ready to buy as quickly as possible. Case in point: 43 percent of consumers want to shop more efficiently and welcome in-store advertising that guides their browsing.
3. The purchasing journey is shorter than ever.
Busy consumers are looking for shortcuts to get what they want. A majority of consumers (69 percent) prefer to get their shopping done as quickly as they can, and 65 percent said they always go with the products they know, which means strong loyalty to brands. This desire for familiarity and convenience has led 24 percent of customers to use services like Amazon.com's Subscribe & Save. These services ensure consumers’ favorite products will be delivered to them regularly.
4. Social media and online influencers guide purchases.
Thanks to social media and the rise of influencers, word-of-mouth marketing has extended beyond casual recommendations from family members and friends. Our research shows that 30 percent of users look to influencers to try out new products before they take the plunge themselves, and a quarter of shoppers trust ads more that feature people they follow online. Additionally, 28 percent of consumers say they enjoy interacting with brands on social media.
5. Consumers want a customized experience.
The internet has made it seem like everything a person wants is just a click away, but many consumers still feel like they can’t find exactly what they want. Forty-three percent of respondents want services and products that cater to their specific needs better. This is true in advertising, too. Consumers like relevant ads that pop up in product searches, and 50 percent want more relevant ads delivered at appropriate times.
Today’s consumer journey is complex. Shoppers are more informed than ever, and they crave convenience and love finding the quickest path to purchase. For those looking for more in-depth information from the survey, check out the report here.
Sarah O’Grady is the senior director of brand for Valassis, a marketing technology and consumer engagement company. As a 15-plus year veteran of content, brand, and social media marketing across CPG, beauty, and technology, she brings an experienced yet experimental point of view to brand-building and customer engagement. Prior to joining Valassis, Sarah served as the head of global social strategy for Lenovo. She’s worked in-house at L’Oréal and Ethan Allen and with brands like Sony PlayStation and CVS Pharmacy. Her work has been recognized through Webby, Shorty, and ADDY Award wins and nominations and has landed her speaking engagements at SXSW and Social Media Marketing World, among others. Sarah has also been a featured guest on marketing and customer experience pioneer Jay Baer’s podcast and was recently named one of seven women marketers to follow in 2019 by Socialbakers.