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With more than a third (38%) of consumers globally concerned about having enough money to “live right” and pay the bills, and almost the same proportion (37%) worried about inflation and higher prices, it’s perhaps not surprising that saving money is a top priority for many shoppers.1
However, our FutureBuy 20162 study shows that this is particularly true for those who shop online compared to in-store (52% vs. 26%). If we look closer still, we see that searching for the best price online is common practice regardless of age group. It seems we’re all “smart shopping”, from Millennials to Baby Boomers.
Recent economic uncertainties have changed consumers’ definition of value. They’re reassessing and redefining what products and services justify a premium. Our most recent Roper Report study, which covers 27 countries, shows that almost a quarter (23%) of consumers would pay more for a product that makes their life easier, for example. But value is also associated with the actual process of shopping. By being shrewd, shoppers can obtain the best deal for a product. There is value in getting a deal, but there is also value in feeling like a savvy or “smart” shopper.
Our FutureBuy 2016 study shows that consumers are shopping smarter, with an increasing number of them indicating that they are checking store circulars for deals/coupons, comparing the prices of stores, and researching products online more than they did a year ago.
A growing number of consumers are also using the internet to find and purchase products more than they did a year ago. Online channels bring transparency to the shopping experience, which could explain this trend. With a choice of online and offline shopping channels, almost two thirds (63%) of consumers indicate that they are learning how to shop more efficiently than before. And a similar proportion (62%) feel more in control than ever before when choosing the best products to buy.
The transparency of online shopping has generated two phenomena and further challenges to retailers’ pricing strategies: showrooming (the act of checking out a product in a physical store and then buying it online from a different retailer) and webrooming (the act of checking out a product online and then buying it in-store). Although these previously growing trends (showrooming and webrooming) have stabilized in the past year, they are here to stay. One quarter of all respondents practice showrooming in their journey whilst equal number of respondents (ca. 25%) webroom.
The impact of these trends on consumers’ shopping habits marks the death knell of dynamic pricing strategies, whereby near identical products are sold to different consumers at different prices. Today’s consumers, as we’ve identified, are price savvy. 61% (up from 58% in 2015) indicate that it’s important to them that the price of an item is the same whether they buy it online or in-store. Although some shoppers are prepared to pay more for convenience and to accept price differentials between channels on this basis, we don’t believe this will be the case in the future. And with the ability to air their dissatisfaction with a retailer via social media just a few clicks away for today’s Connected Consumer, woe betide any retailer who ignores such shifts in shoppers’ attitudes.
The picture painted by these findings makes clear the enormous challenges to retailers’ pricing strategies brought about by the convergence of offline and online shopping. The transparency created by the online shopping channel means that consumers simply won’t accept paying a different price for the same product based on where they buy it. Pricing intelligence is currently used more often by retailers to ensure competitiveness and it is proving effective, but it will never replace a well-thought-through pricing strategy and positioning. Indeed, with the rise of “smart shopping” we could see a new retail battleground emerging soon.
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1GfK Roper Reports Worldwide Market Brief: Germany, 2015; 27 countries
2GfK FutureBuy 2016, an online survey with 20,000 consumers 18+ in 20 countries across key categories (FMCG, services, consumer durables, automotive, toys, apparel, home improvement, home and garden, furniture etc.)
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In a world increasingly active online, more and more questions arise to define the ‘digitally savvy’ population. We know Millennials, those reaching adulthood around the year 2000, have been born into a digital world, but are they more engaged with e-commerce brands?
Using Millennials as a target group has been criticized, as marketers broadly categorize individuals at different life stages, with different interests and attitudes. However, this cohort of digital natives have already shown differentiating behavior in terms of social media usage, gaming and life priorities including health, marriage, having children or buying a house. For all the myths, Millennials are one of the largest consumer groups in history, they have an affinity with technology and are about to reach their prime working and spending years (Goldman Sachs).
Each year InternetRetailing UK releases a list of the top e-commerce and cross-channel retailers. We have taken the top 50 brands and added them to our GfK Crossmedia Visualizer platform to see how behavior varies among different age groups.
When looking at the UK online population during the first half of 2016, reach is the highest among the over 45’s, particularly females. This questions the extent to which larger e-commerce and cross-channel retailers have moved their marketing focus towards the Millennial demographic, querying the untapped purchasing potential of this target group. However, although reach amongst Millennials is lower, when looking at the average duration of time spent on these sites those in the young Millennial age group (16-24) over-index significantly. This reflects that although larger retailers don’t reach as high a proportion of Millennials compared to other age groups, those they do reach are more engaged for a much longer duration.
This higher level of engagement is particularly noticeable for retailers in the areas of Fashion, Personal Care/Cosmetics and Animals/Pets.
Although young Millennials (16-24) spend more time visiting these sites, they do so less frequently. Younger Millennials therefore may seem difficult to reach, but with engaging content should stay on site for a much greater duration of time.
No demographic group is homogeneous, yet we still find distinct differences for young Millennials compared to other age groups. When looking at the top 20 retail sites that over-index for a Millennial target group compared to the average reach for the total UK online population, sites related to Fashion and Education have much greater reach for young Millennials (16-24). Combined these industries account for 80% of the top 20 sites.
In comparison, more mature Millennials (25-34) are attracted to a wider variety of e-commerce sites, visiting more general retailers including department stores and multi-content pure play brands. Mature Millennials also shop more for other people including children, engaged with sites relating to Mother/Baby and Toys. This pattern also follows for Millennial retail sites with the greatest level of engagement.
Young Millennials are the only demographic where the top 20 sites in terms of engagement are mutually exclusive to all other age groups. This implies that Millennials are primarily engaged with brands that directly target their age cohort, including Topshop, Forever21 and Student Beans.
When looking at the top 20 e-commerce retailers with the greatest Millennial reach and engagement we have found that sites are directly targeted at this specific demographic. Therefore if retailers want to target Millennials they will generate significantly greater levels of engagement with relevant, targeted content.
However, this is only the case for younger Millennials. We have found key differences in the e-commerce activity of young Millennials (16-24) and more mature Millennials (25-34). Younger Millennials spend a significantly greater amount of time per month visiting the top 50 retailers according to InternetRetailing UK. This is primarily due to Fashion, a key e-commerce industry appealing to young Millennials with brands providing targeted content. This demonstrates an opportunity for e-commerce brands to increase awareness and purchase intent, as the first digitally native demographic reaches its prime.
Deep drills into the UK’s top e-commerce and cross-channel retailers is just a starting point when getting familiar with your audience’s cross-media and cross-device usage. The above case study on Millennial e-commerce behavior is fully based on data provided by the GfK Crossmedia Visualizer. This cutting edge tool offers up to date, clear and deep insights into all relevant indicators of online usage across different devices (PC, smartphone and tablet). Moreover the internet usage data from this platform is linked to unique users’ consumer profiles, including all relevant socio-demographic data and further profiling attributes such as media usage, TV consumption and lifestyle data.
Amy Warwick is a digital senior research executive at GfK. For more information or to share your thoughts, please email email@example.com.
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With the election season now behind us, Americans can now set their sights onto a new season (with perhaps the same level of uncertainty – for marketers, brands and companies at least): holiday shopping. This year the National Retail Federation expects holiday sales to reach $630.5 billion. Additionally, online sales are expected to increase to as much as $105 billion. While we all wait for Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and the rest of the shopping season to arrive, here are a few prominent trends – both old and new – that companies need to keep top of mind.
One of the first things that might come to mind for holiday shoppers is deals and sales. With good measure too – GfK Consumer Life data shows that about eight in ten Americans get “really satisfied, even excited, when they get a really good deal”. And the timeframes for these deals are only getting longer to help companies stay close to the consumer – Amazon already launched holiday deals on November 1 as part of its Black Friday Deals Store. We as consumers cannot get away from the ‘value’ we get out of a product based on the price we pay for it. Whether it’s through coupons or just plain visually seeing a ‘price-slash’, sales and deals will certainly have to be a mainstay to draw holiday shoppers in.
Innovative shopping experiences continue to emerge as consumers want the ‘best of both worlds’ from both online and in-store. Nearly eight in ten Americans agree the worst part of shopping in stores is “having to deal with crowds and long lines” (hello, Black Friday…). Yet nearly an equal number agree that “it’s fun to browse in stores to see what’s new”. Along the same lines, three in four believe they can find “a variety of items online that are hard to find in stores”. But most consumers also feel that they “don’t like shopping online because they can’t see, touch, or try on things before buying”.
Where are the opportunities then? It seems as though consumers really can’t decide which channel they prefer – so a hybrid of both is an emerging solution that will continue to penetrate. Successful companies and marketers will combine positive facets from both channels to play into consumer tendencies. For example, Boston-based retailer Wayfair is implementing virtual reality headsets as a new way for consumers to browse and buy products virtually in the comfort of their own home; it also allows users to drop a virtual product into any room to see how it fits.
While consumers will continue to go to standard e-tailers for their online shopping, look for them to further streamline. More than seven in ten (72%) Americans are “always looking for ways to simplify my life”. Since online shopping itself incorporates streamlining more so than in-store shopping (as noted above under ‘convergence’), how can companies further simplify for the consumer? More and more, it really is turning into a speed & efficiency game. Take Instagram’s newest rollout, for example – aligning product links between social apps and retailer sites can be far more efficient than finding a product of interest on a standalone site, only to have to “re-find” it again on a separate site.
While ‘more of the same’ still exists with holiday shopping (see: sales & deals), innovations in both the online and in-store shopping areas are continuously emerging. The smart company and marketer will still leverage deal-based promotions to target the basic inclinations of the holiday shopper, while balancing the ‘good’ from both online & in-store outlets. New and innovative ways that appeal to their needs around simplification & efficiency of the shopping process will also generate success this season and beyond.
Mihir Bhatt is a Senior Consultant on the Consumer Life team at GfK. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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