In this guest post, Criteo MD Colin Barnard (lead image), says COVID has seen the rise of the “convenient consumer”, a customer that now chooses the route that best suits them. Here, Barnard offers his tips on how brands can best deal with the change…
In the last two years of living through a pandemic, we’ve seen consumers shift their usual routines and behaviours to adapt to a completely new way of living. With global lockdowns, occupancy capacity limits, and varying restrictions and comfort levels for in-person activities, consumers had to adjust to alternative ways to manage daily routines and life’s necessities.
Enter ‘The Convenient Consumer.’ This customer values brands that meet them where they are, allowing them to act on their own terms and schedules. The pandemic saw a need to quickly shift online and digitise the consumer experience. We saw grocery stores utilising delivery services, at-home apps and videos replacing gyms, streaming services taking the place of theatres, and curbside pick-up enhancing ecommerce and enabling the omni-consumer.
Now, as the world continues to open up, we are seeing shoppers take a more hybrid approach to purchase. A recent Criteo survey found that 89 per cent of Gen Z and Millennials browse products online before purchasing in a retail store, 80 per cent make purchases online after seeing the product in-store, and 80 per cent would also purchase online but then collect in-store.With so many options available, and with shoppers confidently choosing the route that suits them most in the moment marketers should focus on balancing an at-home and in-person presence in order to connect with consumers across all environments and build a lasting relationship in the new normal. Here’s how:
Provide Value at Every Interaction
It’s well understood that today’s marketers need to be able to reach consumers throughout each touchpoint of their shopping journey, but beyond that, they need to provide some sort of value with every interaction. One way to do this is by utilising both in-store and online data to provide a personalised and seamless shopping experience across all the channels – from email and social media to brick-and-mortar and more. One business that thrived during this time was Woolworths. Investing in in-store, online and its app offering, Woolworths successfully integrated its business drawing on customer insights to create an individualised experience for consumers – whether this is through personalised rewards and recipe suggestions based on recent search and purchase behaviour or knowing where their preferred store location is. Creating a consistent experience that is unique to the shopper shows that a brand is willing to meet them where they are, making it easier for them to get what they need, regardless of the channel that they are shopping in.
Overcommunication is Key
The rapid increase in e-commerce in the last couple of years led to supply chain issues in many sectors that resulted in out-of-stock items and extremely long delivery times. In turn, consumers ditched their brand loyalty and switched to brands that were immediately available to them. With loyalty up for grabs, marketers should be communicating the ways that they can meet the consumer where they are and help fulfill their needs. Whether that’s through options such as buy-online, pick-up in-store (BOPIS) or through discounted express shipping, consumers will interact with the brands and retailers that are catering to their needs and making it as easy as possible to get what they are looking for.
Keep the Consumer at the Centre
Consumers looking for brands that could fulfill their needs, led to the discovery and adoption of new favourites during the pandemic. According to Criteo data, shoppers are increasingly turning to retail and brand websites for product discovery and research with 3 in 4 Gen Zers and Millennials saying they discover new brands and products through online ads. Now more than ever, executing a strong loyalty strategy is imperative to keep these consumers coming back to you and not a competitor. We’ve seen long-time brick-and-mortar customers turn into omni-channel shoppers and the key to engaging this new audience along with existing and lapsed consumers is to focus on a customer-centric marketing strategy that is less focused on siloed channels but instead drives lifetime loyalty across all channels.
Invest in Brick-and-Mortar
While many consumers turned to e-commerce for the first time in 2020, there is still a vast majority who want to go in-store to touch and feel a product before making a purchasing decision. To help bridge the two experiences, retailers can take a page from e-commerce by leaning on technology. Providing inventory search kiosks, streamlining contactless mobile payments, and even augmented reality (AR) to visualise products at home, will make the in-store experience as simple and efficient as possible. The likes of Samsung jumped on the shift to AR with an Australian first campaign with Snap Australia last year. The campaign used Snap’s AR Try-On feature with new AR Ear and Wrist tracking technology, allowing users to try-on Samsung’s new Galaxy flip phone, watch and earphones.
To succeed with today’s ‘Convenient Consumer’, one thing is clear: marketers need to meet this consumer where they want to be met. By providing a personalised and seamless experience across channels, along with options such as curb-side pick-up, digital subscriptions, contactless payment and more – consumers can access products and services on their own terms and ultimately, will continue to interact and build relationships with these brands for years to come.
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