It’s time to reinvent the way we research shopping and consumer behavior. In recent years, our industry has been too focused on pay-per-clicks, native advertising, algorithms, geo-targeting, and a billion other ways we can peek into the way shoppers are interacting with marketing technology. While important, these ancillary metrics are not enough.
At a fundamental level, consumers are changing the relationship they have to goods and services. When you can get whatever you want, whenever you want, how do your priorities and needs change? When everything seems to be innovating at a rapid pace, what happens to our brand loyalty? When you have all the information you could ever want to make a decision, what information becomes relevant to you? You become a promiscuous shopper. By promiscuous, we mean brand affinity and brand loyalty are becoming the least most important factors in purchase decision-making. Promiscuity is not a trend. It is our new normal and will only intensify with technological advancements. But, how do we measure it?
Because today’s shopper journey is messy and decidedly individual, we have to shift our research to fit that journey. We’ve found that regardless of category, shopper type, or context, each shopper is influenced by several key factors:
- Who They Are – Shopper Promiscuity: How curious and experimental is a person in general? Do they like taking risks, trying new things? Are they early adopters? Understanding a person’s general proclivities towards promiscuity is the first step in comprehending our shopper.
- What They Need – Product Promiscuity: How promiscuous is the product category itself? For example, soda drinkers are extremely loyal, whereas frozen meal consumers have low loyalty and are driven by promotions. We need to be aware of the general promiscuity of the product category. It isn’t just about the shopper.
- What Matters To Them – Shopper Priorities: What is the emotional state of the shopper? What are the priorities for a particular purchase? Are they in a rush? How big is the budget for the purchase? Understanding parameters around the shopping experience will reveal motives for behavior.
- How They Solve The Problem – Shopping Context: This is by far the most overlooked area that can influence shopper promiscuity. The first three items we discussed were about the shopper themselves. A fourth and very critical factor is the actual shopping experience – whether online or in person.
If all of this sounds alarming, it doesn’t have to be. Using many of the same techniques and methodologies we’ve always relied on as researchers, we can begin to tackle these tough new problems. But first, we need to reorient our thinking about our categories and customers in a few key ways by focusing on customers, not brands; let the data lead the story and drive the conclusions; create finely crafted reports that get to the heart of the matter; and make sure your research represents the new consumer’s reality. We must design the research to be focused on specific needs and issues. Since the space is changing swiftly, it is difficult to stay ahead of the curve with best practices. Facing this challenge head-on and looking at new approaches, is the first step in getting what we need out of shopper research.
This article provides a summary of a new eBook, It’s Not You, It’s Me: Shopper Promiscuity in Context, which can be found in its entirety at: https://www.alteragents.com/its-not-you-its-me