The digital age is continually shaping the retail industry and its consumers. The growth in technology has given consumers more choice when shopping. Because of this, consumer behaviour is continually adapting and is more sophisticated than ever.Consumers have more power through online platforms. Their opinions count and they want to share them. Forbes has seen a rise in consumers judging their experiences against online convenience. They are “becoming less tolerant when it comes to getting what they want” which is fuelling brand switching and online word of mouth. Following on from this, consumers are making more informed decisions through the excess of choice and information online. This has led to consumers to shop outside of the usual seasonal boundaries, making informed decisions to get hold of value for money.
Consumers are constantly adapting and evolving their shopping processes as technology develops. Here’s what we have noticed change with consumer behaviour the most:
Today’s consumers are more open to brand switching. According to Media Vision “Loyalty between consumers and brands isn’t as strong as it used to be. Consumers demand superiority, and they are willing to pay for it.” Consumers are looking for benefits, not just the product. If one brand is offering better benefits than another, consumers are much more comfortable with switching brands to suit them.
Reviews online can have lasting effects, whether damaging or beneficial to a company. The ease of leaving these reviews has given consumers more power to speak out about a bad service or a dissatisfactory product. Due to this, consumer tolerance for bad experiences is lowering. Consumers know they have the power to make an impact, so their tolerance for poor service and products is understandable lower. Forbes have said that UK shoppers are “increasingly judging their experiences and becoming less tolerant when it comes to getting what they want, when they want.” This is something that retailers can’t control, they can only ensure their service is kept at a high level.
Whether in-store or through e-commerce, a good experience is key for retailers. Our article on omni-channel retailing looks into how consumer experience is paramount across all platforms.
Online Word of Mouth
People have always shared their consumer experiences with friends, family and colleagues, word of mouth has always been there. But before the digital age hit, word of mouth was a lot slower. Now, social media platforms and review sites have sped up the process. Reviews reach unlimited numbers at the touch of a button, and can’t be censored. This is a part of consumer behaviour in 2017, they share their opinions for everyone to hear, not just their close companions.
Seasons are no longer as important for consumers shopping patterns. The increase in e-commerce sites combined with the choice of stores means there is always a sale for out of season stock. The BBC reported on this change of habit saying that consumers are “waiting for the sales and buying things out of season, holding on to them until they are needed”. Shoppers are becoming more flexible with their shopping habits. They are no longer buying their winter coats as soon as the cold weather starts, they already have them from last year’s sales.
Research is an important factor in consumer’s decision making process. Before, you had to look at competitive stores to find the best option. Now, the internet gives consumers more options for research. Reviews, price comparison sites, informative online content, it all gives consumers an opportunity to make a more informed decision.