The modern consumer is the connected consumer. With access to unlimited sources of information on social networks, and overwhelmed with choice when it comes to researching and purchasing new products.
So, what is the path to purchase for the modern consumer? Where do they find and discuss information about new products, and where do they purchase these products when they have passed through the research phase?
Facebook IQ recently commissioned research into precisely this question, examining the path to purchase of shoppers aged 18+ in the categories of Media & Entertainment, Apparel & Accessories, Household Staples and Health, Household & Personal Care.
How do Shoppers Discover New Brands and Products?
In terms of how connected consumers discover new brands and products, the research found that behaviour differed quite significantly depending on the product category.
For example, online plays an important role in the discovery of new brands and products in the Media & Entertainment, Apparel & Accessories and Household Staples categories, with 60% of consumers in these categories frequently discovering new products online.
However, in the Health, Household & Personal Care category, it is offline where new brands and products are discovered 59% of the time. Online still has a part to play in this category, however, with 28% of Health, Household & Personal Care shoppers discovering more products online over the previous year.
How do Shoppers Evaluate New Products?
When consumers are in the process of evaluating the new products they have discovered, the research by Facebook IQ found that they frequently rely on recommendations from contacts in their social networks.
Shoppers in the Media & Entertainment, Household Staples, and Health, Household & Personal Care categories cited recommendations from family and friends as influential when evaluating a product. The research found further that shoppers frequently take to Facebook, Instagram and Messenger to discuss their recent purchases, as well as for recommendations on new products. Indeed, 59% of Household Staples shoppers and 63% of Media and Entertainment shoppers use Facebook to discuss and evaluate new products, while 41% of Apparel and Accessories shoppers prefer to chat with their network on Messenger about their shopping activities.
Interestingly, ‘in-store’ generally plays a less important role in the evaluation process, although the trend is bucked in the Apparel & Accessories category, where 56% of shoppers still prefer to visit a store to evaluate a particular product or brand.
Where do Connected Consumers Purchase Products?
In what is perhaps a slightly surprising conclusion, Facebook IQ’s research into shopping habits found that ‘in-store’ is still the most common purchase destination for shoppers in the categories surveyed. That is most frequently the case in the Health, Household & Personal Care category, where just 31% of people surveyed claim to buy online rather than in-store, even though 23% of shoppers in this category say they have purchased more products online in the previous year.
The exception to the rule here is the Media & Entertainment category, which was the only category in which the majority of shoppers preferred to buy their products online. In the Household Staples category, the split is fairly even, with 46% preferring to shop online.
Despite the fact that in-store proved to be the final destination for many purchases, online still figured frequently in the lead up to purchase. For example, 42% of Health, Household & Personal Care customers and 43% of Apparel & Accessories consumers, claimed to have looked at products online before they bought them in-store.
The research conducted by Facebook contains a number of valuable insights for brands and marketers.
To begin with, it is clear that online is crucial in the discovery of new products for the modern consumer, particularly in the Media & Entertainment, Apparel & Accessories categories. For brands in Health, Household & Personal Care space, however, consumers appear to prefer in-store discovery when it comes to new products.
When it comes to product evaluation, the research highlighted the crucial role played by social media, as consumers seek social proof for the products they are considering before committing to purchase, this is particularly true for Media & Entertainment, Household Staples, and Health, Household & Personal Care shoppers.
Finally, the research demonstrated that many shoppers are still attached to the in-store experience when it comes to making a purchase. This highlights the limitations of online shopping, but also suggests a way forward for brands. Online shopping must become more immersive to allow shoppers to get closer to the products they are considering, as well as more seamless, reducing the friction on the path to purchase to incentivise shoppers to buy online rather than in-store.
For help reaching your target audience online, contact digital advertising specialists Clark St. James on 01603 343477 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Our team delivers a scalable return on investment for e-commerce companies across the major search and social media advertising channels.