As Millennials enter into parenthood, how do companies mesh traditional parental shopping patterns with that of the unique millennial? Is social media monitoring really the best way to gather valuable insights? How do you quantify implicit feelings and thoughts related to the shopper journey?
These are just a few of the questions answered at IIR’s 2015 OmniShopper conference. With over 350 research and insights professionals in attendance, the event featured accomplished speakers from brands and retailers such as Safeway, Google, The Hershey Company, Coca-Cola, Campbell Soup Co., LEGO and many more. Focused on the omnishopper and the shift to a seamless shopper journey across multiple channels, the conference highlighted a number of noteworthy trends emerging in the retail landscape.
What is the key indicator of disruption to the shopper journey? Technology. Retailers and brands alike will continue to cope with the ever-changing shopping process and will need to adapt to the omnishopping environment. Shoppers are constantly looking for ways to engage with brands and technology has given them this ability. Successful marketers will embrace this evolution of technology and proactively find ways to compete in a customer-centric environment by reaching shoppers through digital touchpoints and in various purchase mind-states. The biggest opportunity for marketers is the increasing availability of information to consumers through advances in technology, which results in an increased expectation of service, quality and experiential shopping.
Millennial spending behavior continues to intrigue marketers, a clear trend based on the multiple sessions focused on this generation. As this generation begins to enter into parenthood, marketers are taking notice and finding ways to mesh traditional parental shopping patterns with that of the unique Millennial. This generation exhibits extreme social trust, risk avoidance, reward-focused shopping, and a need to feel connected to family and friends as well as to brands. They shop in a simplistic manner, with the desire to make a purchase as quickly as possible while creating an engaging experience to be shared with others. They are open to omnishopping and have an expectation for seamless transactions and marketing transparency.
RETAILER TOUCHPOINTS & ENGAGEMENT
In-store touchpoints have always been an area of interest, but with increased technological capabilities and more product offerings than ever, using the right touchpoints in the right way is critical. Customers have different objectives at different points in the shopping process which creates opportunities for retailers to reach out via touchpoints. Shoppers do not simply trust what brands are communicating. They are informed by multiple sources before a purchase and through technology are more connected across multiple platforms, simultaneously. Marketers should use this connectedness to find foundational insights that help them reach the omnishopper through tactful touchpoint placement both in-store and out-of-store.
SOCIAL MEDIA & SURVEY LENGTH
We continue to see an increasing push for shorter surveys and the use of social media to gather big data; however, new studies are defending that social media monitoring may not be the best way to gather valuable insights due to the over-representation of less valuable customers. David Schweidel, Professor of Marketing at Goizueta Business School – Emory University, shared that, “Customers should be treated equitably, not equally, based on the value they can bring to your business.” Therefore, eliminating the noise that can be gathered with big data will be increasingly important to generate meaningful insights that bring value to businesses.
Marketers continue to be intrigued by shopper behavior in store and the factors that entice store-goers to buy certain products. New techniques are quantifying what research respondents often cannot – implicit feelings and thoughts related to the shopper journey. Eye tracking was mentioned in multiple sessions as the device allows marketers to understand important aspects of the shopping experience such as price checking, product feature comparison, and the draw of product packaging. This understanding allows retailers to optimize shelf layout to benefit the customer and remove in-store pain points and purchase barriers.
IN-STORE ENGAGEMENT & THE EVOLUTION OF THE LOYALTY PROGRAM
The conference also highlighted the multitude of ways to engage with shoppers while in-store to both build the experience and gather insights. Companies, such as The Clorox Company, are incentivizing shoppers to share purchase behaviors through receipt scanning to better understand trip drivers and create more buying occasions. Another technique used by retailers is the delivery of trackable, digital coupons, which are personalized based on purchase history and store location through loyalty programs. Retailers, such as Safeway, are employing this method to gather customer insight and purchase behavior as well as offering value to the shopper by simplifying the in-store journey. Loyalty programs are no longer simply about a customer being loyal to a retailer, but instead, the retailer must also show commitment to the shopper in order to retain their business in this competitive, ever-changing industry.