COVID-19 forced everyone to change the way they shopped. From the way they bought groceries to the way they purchased homes, every consumer had to learn how to buy the things they needed differently.
But while every consumer has had to change, so have the brands trying to reach them. From the spike in services to deliver food safely and seamlessly, to the rise of the micro-influencer who influences us to buy the things we never thought we needed, much of the consumer decision journey has changed as a result of the pandemic.
Plan B believes that understanding changes in consumer behavior can better help brands reach them in this new digital era.
Consumers who Started Shopping Online are Staying There
Consumer spending habits have changed greatly as a result of the pandemic. But one of the most important changes for marketers to consider is that consumers have now formed more digital shopping habits – and aren’t planning on going back to their old ways.
According to key insights from the 2022 Shopper Experience Index, “consumers who were forced to shop online during 2020 and 2021 are staying there, and those venturing back in-store are largely relying on online product research to guide their decisions.” The element of consumers researching products before purchasing an item is pivotal because it means what consumers find online about a product can greatly influence their decision to purchase it.
For example, Forbes’ article Shopping Trends Change But Pandemic Behaviors Are Here To Stay, states, “two of the top five factors that improve consumer confidence online are ratings, reviews, and product photos from other shoppers.” With the impact that ratings have on consumer confidence, it’s almost as if online reviews have replaced the position that salesmen would play in the consumer decision journey. More than ever before, the digital presence that a brand has can greatly impact its success which is why it is important for brands to keep this in mind when crafting marketing and advertising efforts.
Money Talks, and Consumers are Listening
While it’s easy to see online reviews are becoming the new salesmen, the brands that offer the discounts are more likely to be bought from. According to Epsilon’s research on modern shopping behavior, known as The Great Reshuffling of Shoppers, “53% (of survey respondents) purchased from a new website because the price was better.” When it comes to brands trying to reach new audiences, being the best-priced option on the market has the potential to sway consumers to stray from their brand loyalties. For this reason, it is imperative for new brands to both market their products online and price them competitively if they want a chance at finding success in this digital era.
Consumers Demand Seamless
As more consumers shop or browse online, they are tolerating less friction in their purchase journeys now more than ever. Slow-loading product pages, low-quality pictures, or too many steps or glitches in the checkout process can lead to major financial loss. According to Brittany Billings, executive VP of strategic markets and marketing at Shopkick, “In order for brands and retailers to retain customers’ share of wallet, heart, and mind, it is more important than ever to deliver a frictionless – and connected – online and in-store experience.” With the correlation between seamless transactions and a brand’s success in mind, it is clear brands should aim to make their online shopping experience and presence frictionless in order to have the best chance at success.
Brands can ensure their online presence is seamless by analyzing consumer behavior data and fixing moments where consumers bounce off. For example, software company VWO investigated the low conversion rates on a particular pricing page and found that visitors were bouncing off because of too many subscription plan options. They then redesigned their page which resulted in conversion rates shooting up by 94%. With this great increase in a website’s success as a result of less friction in the purchasing process, it’s clear that if brands aren’t taking the steps to analyze their digital consumer journey, they could be missing out.
The Impacts of the Pandemic on Content Marketing
While it’s clear that consumer shopping habits have changed as a result of the pandemic, so has the way marketers have begun to target them.
Quarantine and stay-at-home orders during the pandemic immensely impacted traditional advertising production. During this time, over a third of advertisers claimed they had to cancel a campaign pre-launch or during production, or at least pause a campaign. As brands searched for new ways to reach consumers, influencers and content creators became the safe alternative to fill this content void. And since many influencers produced high-quality content without the use of a studio, they were deemed safe ways to promote brands.
The Authentic Salesman
While more authentic marketing content has been noticeably higher in recent years, Covid-19 kicked the trend into high gear. During the pandemic, influencers created more authentic, relatable content because just like everyone else, they were stuck at home. As brands struggled to promote their products to consumers without the usual production resources, they began to lean on influencers’ authentic relationships. This proved to be very successful as many consumers began to trust the products that authentic influencers recommended because they seemed more relatable.
The Rise of the Micro-influencer
Many of these more relatable influencers are also known as micro-influencers because, with a following of less than 25,000 followers, consumers are more likely to consider them authentic and be loyal to their product recommendations. For example, research shows that over 90% of consumers trust micro-influencers more than traditional ads or celebrity endorsements. And because these micro-influencers typically can offer a better conversation rate, they became ideal for brands with sales-focused KPIs.
Adjust YourMarketing To The Ever-Changing Consumer
Plan B believes that by keeping track of how the consumer journey is changing, brands can better adapt their marketing strategies to resonate with modern audiences. This is important because the brands that better provide frictionless, micro-targeted, and authentic shopping experiences are more likely to be successful than the brands that don’t.
Want to chat more about ways you can adapt your brands’ marketing efforts for the modern consumer? Comment below or reach out on our socials @thisisplanb.