Online shopping has made things easy as everything is available just a click away. But this has killed the spontaneity of shopping. With smart algorithms, shopping tips from sites and suggested things to buy, the power of impulse has started to go down sharply
Delhi | December 21, 2016
Online shopping has changed many things. Things are available all the time at the click of button and delivered instantaneously. This has killed the spontaneity of shopping. Earlier, the brands used the point of payments to sell mints, razors, batteries, and in India candies. Even otherwise the joy of discovering something that wasn't on the shopping list and buying it was an important part of the shopping expedition. Many a time consumers did pick up brands that they didn't expect to buy on a whim and categories benefited from that behaviour. With smart algorithms, shopping tips from the sites and suggested things to buy, the power of impulse has started to go down sharply.
Shopping is now a lot about Likes and Tags and Shares
There is a new filter that consumers now apply to shopping. This filter is of likes they get on social media or the shares and comments they will have once they buy the brand. For instance, the reason to buy a new cell phone is often how the circle of friends will react to the post and very little about how ‘I’ would feel about using the product. Gaining approval and exerting influence are the new reasons to buy a brand and this is the factor that brands have to now factor in their communication strategies. Even trivial choices like the food to eat or movie to watch needs a pre-validation from friends and social circles. This is the new currency of digitally connected youth as digital conversations get ingrained in their lives, and this is where the influencers take over and impulse steps back.
Is trust then a big factor?
Trust is the result of impulse. Though it sounds like trust and impulse don't meet, this isn’t true. Most path-to-purchase start with impulse and repeat buys make the impulse into a habit. It’s habit that eventually leads to trust. We trust those brands that we either buy often or we intend to buy in future. With new social buying driven far more from social pre-approval, the comfort of looking at the brand that is used by many stops become a motivating factor. In the digital scenario trust is really about fulfilment and not about usage experience. With a favourable delivery experience and acceptance from social peers, the whole trust game takes a new angle. This is a huge challenge for brands as poor delivery experience impacts the brand and not the site that delivered it, but a good delivery experience impacts the site and not the brand that was ordered. Brands will have to rewrite their strategies with trust becoming a less potent force to drive brand loyalty.
So then can brands be really single minded?
The diminishing importance of impulse is also diminishing the need for brands to be single minded. In the era of media proliferation brands, pushed the same message across multiple channels to build same impression in minds. Has this started to change? In the earlier era of broadcast, it paid to be single minded. In the era if personal media, it pays to be intrusive. If the message is not intrusive, the chances of it not being consumed are very large. If we look around, the biggest brands are not really single minded. Apple, Google, Amazon are far more than just one thing. They have crafted a wider narrative to overcome the pre-approval mindset of consumers. As the brands proliferate and media becomes personal, brands have to become more intrusive. Is the intrusion crafted with a single-minded feature or a host of cleverly created connected features will be the difference between success and impending doom.
Marketing theories in 2017 will need new editions, and some of it is a function of new consumer behaviours. Impulse is diminishing, the need for brands isn’t.
(Naresh Gupta is Managing Partner and CSO of Bang in the Middle. The views expressed are personal.)