Consumer behaviour: A new paradigm in the digital era

Guest Column: Debarshi Chakravorti, VP Head, Business Communication & Planning, Interactive Avenues, believes that the only constant in consumers' behaviour today is their absolute empowerment

e4m by Debarshi Chakravorti
Published: Sep 9, 2022 8:50 AM  | 5 min read
consumer behaviour

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought digital transformation centre stage, driving brands to redefine their marketing strategies and sales models. Internet usage has catapulted – ∼62% of the global population1 is currently accessing digital to discover, research, engage and eventually buy their preferred product or service. Technology innovations have unlocked new avenues to establish consumer relationships beyond the traditional purchase cycle. Omnichannel has become the norm.

Amidst all the disruption, brands are grappling for answers – What do today’s consumers value? What inspires them to make a purchase? According to the EY Future Consumer Index 2022, there are five emerging cohorts of consumers based on priorities:

  1. Affordability first: Live within their means and budget, focus less on brands and more on product functionality and pricing.
  2. Health first: Focus on health and safety, choose products they trust to be safe and take minimal risks in the way they shop.
  3. Planet first: Try to minimize their impact on the environment and buy from brands that reflect their beliefs.
  4. Society first: Believe in working together for the greater good, buy from organizations they find to be honest and transparent.
  5. Experience first: Live in the moment to make the most of life, open to trying new products, brands and experiences.

The writing is on the wall – consumers’ beliefs and behaviours are changing fast in the digital world. The only constant is their absolute empowerment across the digital lifecycle. To stay a step ahead, brands must adapt to certain new consumer realities:

  • Modern consumers don’t aim to be loyal customers. They are more inclined to try new products and experiences, consistently.
  • On-demand consumption and easy, 24x7 access to brands are basic consumer expectations in the digital era.
  • People expect brands to remember them as individuals and not ‘just another' customer. They seek differentiated, personalized experiences at every step.

This new paradigm of consumer behaviour is clearly here to stay. Let’s take a closer look at the key factors driving these trends and explore tactics that can help marketers succeed:

Digital consumers love researching and experimenting

The internet is teeming with product information, insights, comparisons, reviews and free trials. Consumers typically spend quality time researching different product categories, brands and services, before making a purchase decision. This makes discoverability extremely important. Companies should use smart SEO tools and techniques to make specific product attributes easy to identify and find in searches. Making the right product discoverable at the right time helps build brand loyalty and increase repeat purchases. Marketers must go beyond just optimizing for ‘last click’ tactics, and instead dive into the behaviours that drive customers to conversion.

Customer recommendations are a double-edged sword

Nothing is more powerful than a recommendation from an actual consumer. Shoppers are always on the lookout to see what other consumers are saying about a product or service they are interested in. Technology and social media have collectively empowered consumers to share their honest opinions and experiences with large audiences. While brands should definitely take advantage of positive reviews, they also need to address negative or false comments with speed and tact. Online reputation management can help brand custodians take control of their brand’s online conversations. There is a pressing need to embrace proactive social listening and constantly monitor and analyze customer feedback using the right tools and partners.

Impulse buying is here to stay

According to news giant Time, 52% of millennials are more likely to make impulse purchases than any other generation3. A shopper’s emotional state can often trigger an impulse buy, as both positive and negative emotions affect consumer buying behaviour significantly. Marketers therefore need to be masters of connecting emotionally with consumers. Visual stimulus, out-of-the-box appeals, value pricing, and bundled offers are some strong triggers that can lead to impulse buying.
The moment for hyper-personalized marketing is now.

Up to 2010, nearly all web searches returned the same results on Google, regardless of the time of search, location, or language. With the advent of Web 2.0, the internet has become more complex as each user is served a unique result based on their browsing history and user profile group. Today, people and data (not proxies!) need to drive marketing efforts. Brands should leverage data-driven consumer insights to deliver hyper-personalized ads with the reach and frequency needed to drive engagement and trigger action.

In conclusion, brands need innovative strategies and new-age tools to reap the rewards that stem from dynamic consumer behaviour in the digital world. While we now have access to real-time data on customers’ purchases, locations and frequency, these analytics need to be transformed into actionable insights that help consistently push shoppers through the funnel and predict their purchase intentions. It’s time to rethink what inspires a purchase and focus on creating a holistic digital path which triggers the emotions associated with buying.

References:
1 Internet, mobile and social media usage across the world [Oct 2021] (numerical.co.in)
2 Future Consumer Index: In crisis, but in control | EY - Global
3 Millennials Make Selfish Impulse Buys More Than Other Age Groups | TIME.com

Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not in any way represent the views of exchange4media.com

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