Google & GfK Research: Brands Meeting Their Customers Both Online And Offline More Likely To Succeed

Man holding a shopping cart symbol shape over the central node of a multicoloured network drawn on blackboard

Australian consumers feel more positive towards brands that connect with them both online and offline, according to new research by GfK for Google Australia. It also found online interactions are playing a bigger part in the path to purchase as online shopping has grown in response to COVID-19.

The four-week longitudinal study captured the buying behaviours of 300 Australians and analysed the connection between offline and online interactions they have in real-time across four categories: consumer electronics, QSR, grocery and alcohol, and auto insurance.

Key findings include:

  • Online and offline channels often work together along the path to purchase and build brand loyalty.

    • Almost all consumers (91 per cent) interacted with brands via two or more different channels (eg. in store, website, an app, email, phone and/or social media.)

    • Two thirds (67 per cent) of consumers feel positive toward brands that connect with them both online and offline.

    • And according to Analytic Partners, having a physical and digital presence combined drives +32 per cent sales revenue.

  • Australian consumers are engaging with more digital channels, and online is playing a significant role in shaping shopping habits:

    • Since COVID-19 began, 1 in 2 Aussies have either done more online or become more predisposed to interacting with brands via online touchpoints.

    • More than 2 in 5 consumers who reported purchasing in a store also reported buying something online (any categories), either through a website (23 per cent) or an app (36 per cent).

    • On average, 76 per cent of consumers now either use online as their main way of shopping, or prefer online for at least one stage of their purchase journey.

  • Consumers can quickly change loyalties.

    • A quarter of consumers reported having at least one interaction with a brand that resulted in them feeling less positive towards that brand.

    • Previous analysis by The Behavioural Architects found that simply a second choice brand showing up in a search result is also enough to entice 30 per cent of consumers away from their favourite brand.

Renee Gamble, Director of Commerce for Google Australia said: “Online and offline have long been considered to play quite different roles along the purchase journey. This research highlights the changing nature of how Australians decide what to buy. It serves as an important reminder to brands and retailers to focus on how they show up to consumers throughout their purchase journey, and always rethink their business plans so that they are successfully connecting with customers online and offline.”

Gamble said the main lessons for marketers and advertisers from the research include:

  • ‘Be there’ by making your products and services discoverable online. Consumers are now more discerning about where and how they want to engage, and the expectation is that brands will meet them wherever they are.

  • Connect online and offline experiences – Brands often consider a ‘point in time’ solution, that doesn’t factor in where the consumer has come from and where they are going next. Previous interactions play a significant role in driving customer traffic, both physical and digital. Brands need to build stronger relationships with customers and boost both digital and in-store performance by building continuous connections.

  • Future-proof your business. Brands need to set the stage for long-term growth with a plan that goes beyond the pandemic.

While overall consumer spending fell in the early stages of the global COVID-19 pandemic, online purchases have continued to grow with research from Australia Post showing 82 per cent of all Aussie households (9 million) shopped online in 2020 and spent an average of $5,600 per household.4

Dr Morten Boyer, managing director of GfK for Australia and New Zealand, said: “This research has uncovered new insights and behaviours that show a connection between the online and offline interactions people have in real-time as they decide what to buy. For brands, it identifies new opportunities for their commerce offerings to integrate across physical and digital touchpoints.”

Dr Boyer said it was one of the most comprehensive and complicated pieces of research GfK had done – and involved four types of quantitative and three types of qualitative research, a comprehensive literature review, and passive measurement across 8000 days of consumer behaviour.

The research findings were released as part of the new On The Line series hosted by Rachel Corbett – which explores consumer expectations and trends, the latest research, and insights from industry experts on how to continuously connect online and offline worlds for a winning customer experience.

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