Consumer Preferences for Low Prices Fade While Desire for Better Experiences Rise

Though price continues to be a dominant influence on consumer purchases, its relevance is beginning to wane in light of rising preferences for enhanced shopping experiences. Kibo’s report, “2018 Consumer Trends Report — Engaging the Informed Consumer,” underscored key shifts within consumer behavior, specifically as they become more refined in their product research methods.

“Competition has been fierce to offer the lowest prices, the steepest discounts and the fastest free shipping — often to the detriment of small- and mid-sized merchants whose lower order volume can’t make up losses in margins,” the report said. “In a world where sales and discounts are ubiquitous year-round, shoppers are increasingly looking beyond price to distinguish what sets merchant apart.”

To collect the insights, Kibo surveyed 3,000 U.S. consumers ranging in age from 18 upward. The participants were an even split between male and female.

“As merchants struggle to thrive in the era of Amazon and increasingly look for ways to engage consumers, the key is to understand what factors influence a consumer’s buying behavior,” says Tushar Patel, chief marketing officer of Kibo.

Though price remained as the top factor that motivates a purchase — 61 percent of respondents named it as the primary reason to select an item — the percentage dropped by nearly 13 percent, the research discovered. “By contrast, the importance of the shopping experience doubled, and the percentage of participants naming the variety and speed of fulfillment options as deciding factors grew by 1.3-times and three times, respectively,” a Kibo spokesman said.

Content increasingly is swaying purchases — mainly, in the form of product reviews. “Our research indicated that product reviews only continue to grow in popularity, suggesting that authentic recommendations and ratings from shoppers are a key player in completing a purchase online. Going even further, 91 percent of shoppers have relied on these reviews in the past six months,” the report said.

Overwhelmingly, consumers have come to expect robust content from brands. According to the report, 61 percent of survey participants said they expect brands to provide product reviews — 52 percent said they expect a brand to offer in-depth content on their website.

“This year it is increasingly clear that while having fair and consistent pricing on all channels is extremely important, merchants have an incredible opportunity to engage shoppers with seamless experiences that include, but are not limited to, flexible fulfillment options like buy online, pickup in store,” Patel said.

Buy online, pick-up in-store, or BOPIS, has become a common service — and consumers have taken advantage of it. The report said 67 percent of respondents said they’ve participated in this offering in the last six months. “The ability to inspect items in the store before taking them home was the BOPIS benefit whose importance grew the most year-over-year — suggesting that stores’ tactile experiences are important brand assets,” the spokesman said.

What’s more, the myth about dismissive Millennials might finally be debunked — shoppers are increasingly willing to interact with in-store associates, especially when searching for specific products. “Fifty-seven percent of survey respondents said they’ve done so, an 18.75 percent increase from 2017,” the report said. “More than two-thirds of respondents said they expected those associates to have access to their order histories, suggesting expectations are high for knowledgeable interactions that draw on shoppers’ past interactions across touch points.”

Brands seeking to resonate with consumers’ quickly shifting preferences, will require deep analytics to deliver seamless omnichannel experiences, which underscore personalized journeys across channels and venues.

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