Customer behavior has always been a huge factor when it comes to how brands align their marketing strategies. Each year, marketers study the trends and try to understand how they may affect their target audience’s preferences, so they know how to position their product or service to gain higher revenues.
The market is influenced by a number of shifting variables, and technology is one of the biggest indicators of how companies should adapt to changes. Current advancements have been changing and improving business processes across different industries, which is why marketers should know how to adapt. With economic, social, and political changes influencing changes in customer behavior, here are some predictions to anticipate this year:
Customers Are Switching Over to Mobile
The state of retail is seen as a tug of war between brick-and-mortar or physical stores and e-commerce websites. However, technology has stepped in to lend a helping hand so businesses can have equal footing with their online counterparts.
Since 86% of US retail sales still happen in brick-and-mortar stores and 53% of all buying decisions are now influenced by digital technology, a growing number of physical stores now having an online store. And with more shoppers switching over to mobile, it’s crucial for any business to ensure that its eCommerce counterpart is mobile friendly and fully responsive. Just look at how American department store chain Macy’s successfully made the transition.
Customers Want a Seamless Shopping Experience
The rise of online shopping has made a huge impact on customer expectations, including how consumers learn about a certain product. They now go to eCommerce websites to read about detailed product information and expect the same kind of service in physical stores.
To provide this to customers, retailers must up their tech game and go mobile. This would help their customers find products in-store and even skip the check-out line on their way out. This kind of shopping experience is already being delivered by Amazon Go where customers enter the store and take the products they wish to buy from the shelves before walking out.
The technology works by using cameras and sensors strategically placed across the store. Every time you take an item off a shelf, computers keep track of them and place them into your virtual cart. And as soon as you leave, an app charges your credit card once you cross the checkout sensors. This kind of seamless shopping has caught the attention of other companies, and they’re about to take on a similar approach this year.
They’re Going Multi-Channel
Knowing how and where consumers shop is what retailers want to find out about their behavior. But now, a huge part of this behavior involves utilizing multiple channels in making a purchase. For instance, customers may instinctively look up the items they need on Amazon, but they’ll also visit physical stores to explore prices and browse other similar products.
An eMarketer report states that 65% of consumers expect consistency of service on both digital and physical stores, with 55% of them expecting ‘frictionless flow of information between multiple channels.’ The availability of other channels not only opens more possibilities for customers to get what they want, but it also boosts the revenue of retailers. According to a National Retail Federation report, multichannel shoppers spend $93 more than their single-channel counterparts over a Thanksgiving weekend. This means the age of buying an item through a single channel is over.
The Use of Voice Search Is Gaining Popularity
Voice search has gone beyond novelty status as consumers are increasingly getting comfortable with the technology. And with the growing popularity of virtual assistants both on mobile devices and smart speakers, 60% of all searches are now coming from mobile devices with 20% using voice search. This behavior confirms that customers are starting to lean toward a quicker and easier shopping experience.
To give you a better perspective, voice search generates US$2 billion in US retail sales. And with the rate it’s going, it’s expected to reach US$40 billion by 2022. Gartner even predicts that 30% of web-browsing sessions will be from voice-activated searches. With these numbers, it’s going to be hard to ignore what voice search can bring to the table, which is why optimizing for it should be a priority in 2019.
To adapt to this growing trend, brands could boost their online visibility through SEO focused on conversational search queries or semantic search as more devices offer the convenience of voice search.
Consumers Want Personalization from Brands
It’s becoming apparent that consumers would go for richer and a more personalized shopping experience both in person, online or through mobile. Even research shows they’re willing to give out personal data needed to deliver personalized experiences. In fact, 54% of them expect to be given a personalized discount within a day of making themselves known to the brand, with 71% expressing frustration if they go through an ‘impersonal’ shopping experience.
Research shows that 63% of consumers are into personalized recommendations and are also willing to share their information to receive benefits such as exclusive deals, special offers, and coupons. You should also include a more personalized customer and technical support service when issues arise to address their concerns.
When it comes to personalized service, Netflix has it down pat. The popular media streaming service shows film and TV recommendations based on content that you’ve already watched. It even personalizes film covers, giving more prominence to actors you’re more familiar with.
They’re More Health Conscious and Environmentally Aware
More consumers are leaning towards total wellbeing and care for the environment. They are both looking externally towards their surroundings and internally into their physical and mental health. A holistic approach to wellness and the aversion to plastic waste are what drives consumers to patronize a brand more than those that don’t promote health and the protection of the environment.
In fact, a customized diet based on a person’s genetic makeup is appealing to 42% of British consumers, with technological developments in the healthcare industry satisfying consumer demand for a more personalized approach. And in the Philippines, a growing number of fast food restaurants have refrained from using plastic straws, appealing to consumers who support environmental awareness.
Having a deep understanding of what consumers want is what business owners and marketers need to achieve their goals. This year is expected to be more focused on the integration of technology, particularly mobile, to improve not only online but also offline retail stores to boost customer experience. Keep in mind that any adjustments you may need to do should be focused on your customers, so let them guide your decisions in growing your business.