Immediacy in the consumer decision journey and how brands should adapt
Currently, it seems like everything is about corona virus, but not in this article, here I will present you a topic that I have come across multiple times and that I find extremely interesting, as it has been impacting brands and will increasingly continue to do so in the next decades.
Nowadays, consumers expect to have everything they need at a touch of a button and subsequently brands need to adapt. Consumers want every purchase to be done as quickly and efficiently as possible, forcing brands to minimize the gap between discovery of a product and purchase from the brand.
One clear example of how the approach to purchase has changed is pointed out by Google, who noticed the search for businesses that are “open now” has tripled in the past two years, while searches for “store hours” have dropped. This leads us to conclude that there has been an apparent change in the mind-set of consumers, that now have to buy the product in the precise moment of the purchase inspiration.
Companies like Amazon or Uber have highly contributed to this change in the consumer decision journey, where inspiration and purchase are closer than ever. Both companies focus on speed and convenience to satisfy the consumer needs. Amazon delivers products in a day or less, while Uber promptly and inexpensively drives customers around town.
Accordingly, not only technology-driven companies, like Amazon and Uber, should reflect speed and convenience in their customer experience, given that customers expect efficient experiences in all markets. Companies that intend to remain competitive should take advantage of technology to adapt its customer experience process to the new consumer decision journey, diminishing lead times, improving availability of advertised products and using new technologies to offer customers a more personalized, but at the same time, efficient service.
An interesting market to look at in this context is the fashion market, that has found it difficult to follow the strategy of tech companies but has to keep up with it because consumers demand speed from these companies more than ever. Previously, consumers were inspired directly by brands either in-store or through magazines. Nowadays, brands are not the epicenter anymore, consumers get inspiration from social media, celebrities and influencers. This leads us to two main consequences for the market. Firstly, the products are now somewhat detached from the brand, forcing consumers to guess the brand where they can find the specific item, leading to less control of brands over the purchasing decision. Furthermore, the consumer may give up as soon as he/she sees the item but feels frustrated to look for its brand. Thus, fashion brands need to adapt to the consumers and offer solutions for this problem.
Increasingly companies, including fashion ones, are experimenting in the realm of the “phy-gital”, connecting both the digital and the physical into a single flawless experience that offers consumers the speed and convenience they look so much for. 21 Buttons, a social network platform, has created a product identification solution, allowing influencers to share links to purchase items they wear on posts. WeChat links blog posts to brands’ e-commerce websites, without leaving the platform. Visual search is another technology highly used and beneficial in a fashion business, Screenshop, for example, allows users to take a screenshot or picture of items and shop similar ones from their phones. SnapTech IT is also a major player within visual search, providing customers less expensive options similar to what they see on the catwalk or on street style. Visenze launched Shoppable User Generated Content, a tool that makes items within content of users easy to discover, search and purchase.
– 21 Buttons Platform: where you can buy influencers items directly from the item’s brand website.
Despite these technologies being more developed by start-ups, some bigger companies have also started to use them. ASOS, the fashion e-commerce website, has developed a Style Match search tool, expecting this tool to drive sales by offering consumers an easy solution for their style dilemmas. Forever21 partnered with Donde, a specialist in artificial intelligence in e-commerce, to create Discover Your Style, a visual-search tool that locates items based on features, such as color or shape. Moreover, eBay has launched an app that allows users to find items based on photos. Amazon is using AI to help people shop, learning about an individual’s style and making recommendations based on previous purchases and searches.
– Tommy Hilfiger See Now/Buy Now Show in 2017
Finally, not only less expensive fashion brands have taken advantage of the efficiency coming from instant shopping, Tommy Hilfiger, the premium fashion brand, shifted away from a fashionista’s calendar to that of a consumer with a new See-Now/Buy-Now format for its shows. The brand partnered with the Snap:shop app for its 2017 Fashion Show, to launch its new instantly shoppable items, that could be shopped either through a billboard or during the fashion show just by taking a picture. With this innovation, the brand saw impressive results, tapping into a public desire for immediacy, obtaining a 64% increase in US sales, three billion impressions globally and more than nine million live stream views. Furthermore, the digital experience was not only incorporated in fashion shows, but also in-store, with the digital experience following the consumer to where they are. Tommy Hilfiger stores are getting smaller, with a greater focus on hospitality, alongside a more curated product selection and digital experiences to hold it all together.
The rise of immediacy in the consumer decision journey will force companies to adapt and take advantage of technologies that will speed up and, at the same time, personalize the shopping experience, both online and in physical stores. Companies that take advantage of technology, to close the gap between discovery and purchase, are going to succeed and conquer especially younger generations, allowing themselves to occupy a more competitive position in the market, especially if competitors chose not to take advantage of technology.
Head of HDO