A new type of consumer is emerging from today’s social media/mobile environment.
This so-called “smart consumer” makes purchasing decisions based in large part on information from the Web, typically accessing online data several times per day, from multiple touch points and locations.
Now, new research is confirming what marketers have suspected for some time: Compared to their “traditional consumer” counterparts, these smart consumers have extremely high expectations of retailers and the overall brand experience.
Earlier this year, Demandware, Inc. surveyed 454 consumers across North America, UK, France and Germany. Nearly all (90 percent) of the survey respondents were Smartphone owners, and the data shows just how heavily these shoppers rely on information from the Web.
For example, Demandware found that:
- Positive online shopping experiences cultivate brand loyalty. When presented with a positive online shopping experience, smart consumers are quite likely to reward retailers with brand loyalty. Two-thirds of survey respondents (67 percent) said they would share a positive experience among their network.
- Negative online shopping experiences result in brand abandonment. Smart consumers are very unforgiving. In this survey, 72 percent said they would share a negative online experience with friends and family. Nearly as many (70 percent) said they would turn to a competitor as a result. In addition, Demandware discovered that consumers associate a negative experience across the entire brand. Among the smart consumers polled who have had a bad experience online, more than half (52 percent) indicated that they are less likely to shop from that brand again in an offline channel. Only 38 percent of traditional consumers shared the same attitude.
- Online information even trumps information from in-store personnel. Eighty-three percent of those surveyed identified their web-enabled Smartphone to be the most valuable and useful in-store technology. Sixty-nine percent of consumers trust web data, including product information and reviews, more than information attained from a sales associate in the store, while only 16 percent believe that store associates are the best resource for product information. 43 percent of those polled said they would trust a sales associate more if the associate is aided by a web-connected device.
These results reinforce that notion that today’s consumers are quickly becoming web-centric shoppers –and that means marketers need to provide compelling, integrated experiences across all touch points.
Analysts predict Smartphone adoption to outpace traditional phones by the end of 2011, and as Demandware points out, now that consumers increasingly share opinions and attitudes across web and mobile-enabled social networks, a single poor experience has far-reaching consequences for retailers, who risk disappointing these consumers and losing them for good.