Changing consumer habits that are here to stay

We believe in the power of knowledge sharing. That’s why we’re making short educational videos about interesting consumer insights. This video is based around this insight

45% of respondents stated they’ve permanently changed their shopping habits to spend more online*

What are the challenges and opportunities that this presents for marketers? How can you leverage them to stay ahead of the curve? Watch the video to find out.

*source: Brandwatch

Video transcript

Hi, and welcome to the latest in our series of consumer insights. In these videos, we’ve been helping clients respond to COVID-19 by analysing consumer behaviours in lockdown and their lasting impact. In this video we’ll be focusing on consumers’ increased reliance on online shopping and digital channels.

We’ve noticed significant changes in the way people buy online and experience brands digitally – changes that will stick around for good. We wanted to share these with you, as well as why you should embrace the opportunities they present.

The insight

Research by Brandwatch found that 45% of respondents stated they’ve permanently changed their shopping habits to spend more online. This rises to 50% for 19-44 year olds. In certain sectors like fashion, a whopping 73% of consumers say they’d continue to buy online post-lockdown. Digital channels will also play a much more important role in the buying process, with average internet use increasing to 4 hours per day.

 73% of UK consumers also cite brands’ online experience as a purchasing decision, and reason to change brands.

While this presents a huge opportunity for brands to influence consumers through digital, it also means those who don’t adapt their online experience risk getting left behind.

The sales funnel

To show how you can capitalise on this insight, we’re looking at it through the lens of a traditional sales funnel model. In this video we’ll focus on the top two stages – highlighting the emerging challenges and opportunities to raising brand awareness and interest.

The awareness stage

Here, your focus is on getting your audience’s attention. At this stage, consumers have no brand loyalty – they know they need a product or service, but they don’t know their options. Because of the sheer number of options available, your brand faces increased competition online compared to the high street.

That’s why it’s vital you offer a simple and user-friendly experience to remove any potential barriers to purchase that might send consumers to more accessible brands. The awareness stage is also where potential consumers can be heavily influenced by the power of search and social media. 

Search

Where consumers aren’t already swayed by brand loyalty, investing in SEO for keywords relating to your offering is fundamental to driving e-commerce traffic. Many consumers will start their journey with a search engine, making optimisation key to targeting those who are open to trying new brands.

Paid search marketing also presents a great complimentary or alternative approach to improving search engine rankings. However, it’s vital you research how consumers are searching for products in your sector to get the best return on investment. The fashion sector is a perfect example of how this has changed in lockdown. As searches for loungewear have increased, those for formal wear have gone down.

Social media

73% of UK consumers say their online experience will change who they buy from. Both organic and paid social activity plays a massive part in this. Social media played an important role in keeping us connected during lockdown, and research indicates the increased use we’ve seen will continue post-lockdown.

During lockdown, brands have received an average increase of 44 more engagements per day. This may be the result of many brands taking a more human approach rather than focusing on sales and marketing messages.

Either way – social media is primed to deliver unique experiences that increase brand loyalty and advocacy. And consumers agree – with 45% of people in the UK stating that lockdown has made them more open to engaging with social ads.

Interestingly, this number is higher in countries who experienced a stricter lockdown, demonstrating that people are increasingly using social media to feel more connected to people and brands. Brands should capitalise on this by continuing to invest in organic social content that entertains, educates and inspires their followers, creating a deeper connection with them. Now let’s move on to the interest stage.

Interest

Your initial awareness messaging successfully hooked your audience, so now’s the time to give them more detail on your offering. It’s important to remember that consumers move between the stages of the sales funnel, and some will drop out at each stage. The challenge is to provide a simple user experience with high-quality, relevant content that keeps their limited attention and minimises dropouts.

Keeping your audience’s interest means standing out against a crowded backdrop, which you can do through your brand proposition, website and overall content journey.

Proposition

A unique and distinctive proposition can help set your brand apart in a competitive marketplace. If you already have a digital marketing strategy in place, you should regularly review your proposition in response to changing consumer behaviours and new brands entering the market.

If you’re looking to increase your digital spend, you should consider how your current proposition might need to adapt to face new competition online.

Website

The decision-making process can be much shorter for consumers buying online, which is why it’s fundamental the right information is available at the right time. This is absolutely key in moving them along the sales funnel. Website content should be reviewed regularly to ensure it’s clear, motivating, credible and unique information about your products or services.

It’s also important to review your website’s structure to make sure information is easy to access and to offer the simplest possible user journey.

Content journeys

For a more streamlined user experience that links your awareness messaging to a single piece of content, YouTube videos are perfect for delivering a targeted message. Reviews, testimonials and how-to guides all make for great pieces of content at this stage of the funnel. While video marketing is reaching saturation point, the sharp rise of TikTok’s popularity in lockdown presents an opportunity to exploit a channel only 1 in 10 of marketers have tried. The first brands to conquer this channel are set to reap the benefits of a highly engaged audience.

Wrapping up

That’s a wrap on part one of this video, so let’s revisit that key insight. 45% of Brandwatch’s respondents have permanently changed their shopping habits to spend more online. So far, we’ve shown how focusing on the top of the sales funnel can help you take advantage of this increase.

Stay tuned for part 2, where we’ll be delving further into the impact of this change in consumer behaviour and looking at the final stages of the sales funnel. We’ll also be sharing our thoughts on communicating with your consumers, the content types that help them make a buying decision, and how you can turn a purchase into brand loyalty.