understanding consumer behavior

The internet has provided a wealth of data for understanding consumer behavior. There’s more known today about how shoppers make their buying decisions than there has ever been. Even though many of these are digitally-based metrics, brick-and-mortar stores can transfer this knowledge to create a better in store experience.

What Affects Consumer Behavior?

Millennials were quick to adopt technology, while Gen Xers and Baby Boomers were a bit slower. However, the gap between generations and their online behavior is closing. Baby Boomers spend more time online than people between the ages of 16 and 34. They are also more likely to own a smartphone or tablet than they were seven years ago. And most of the Boomers are on at least one social media site. So, the question for marketing has changed from “Who is online?” to “Where do people go when online?”

Retailers and manufacturers have made it easier to shop in the comfort of home, especially for large ticket items. Online reviews have also contributed even more information for consumers to base their decisions, but most purchases are still made in brick-and-mortar stores. The digital world is missing the “touch and feel” of the buying experience.

Consumer Buying Traits

Some people are quicker than others when making their purchasing decisions. Others are more emotional about their decisions, relying on research, reviews, and testimonials. There are four common buying traits that describe how consumers base their decisions. The decision-making process for each one is described below:

1. Spontaneous

When they feel emotionally motivated, impulsivity quickens a buyers pace. The biggest obstacle for them is whether it’s in stock or not. This type of consumer is the easiest to sell to using exclusive offers, lifestyle brands, and ease of checkout.

2. Direct

This type of buyer doesn’t need to scroll around to find what they want. They are the one-click shoppers. These types of customers are easy to turn into loyal ones, but their logical and quick decisions are difficult to convert. To capture their attention, retailers need to focus on what it is that motivates this group and how to appeal to them.

3. Methodical

Taking the time to research products and services, methodical buyers want to know the features and benefits, as well as quality ratings. These buyers are more likely to click-through emails and websites in search of more information to base their buying decisions. Retailers should train their sales associates to act more like consultants for this group, so they come off as helping with those research-based decisions. Also, in store product information is a must have for this group.

4. Subjective

A combination of both logic and emotion, subjective buyers feel they have unique needs. A subjective buyer takes their time to learn as much as they can. Information gained from research needs to be compared with product reviews and testimonials. Retailers need to provide as much information as possible for this type of buyer in order to motivate them.

Help Them with Their Decision

Retailers need to focus on marketing and sales cues that motivate buying decisions. These cues are often found in the design of sales programs and advertising. For example, one successful sales program gives customers three possible choices, making it easier for customers to decide. This type of program follows the Goldilocks Principle.

The biggest take-away is to make the best customer experience possible with the least amount of friction. As technology gets closer to a frictionless buying experience, retailers need to leverage consumer buying traits to find more shoppers.