A new survey of 2,000 US consumers from location intelligence provider Blis argues that, contrary to marketers’ perceptions, the dominant way consumers discover new products is in traditional retail stores. At the same time, the study confirms the complex, multichannel and category-dependent nature of shopping today.
When asked “Where do you hear about new products the most?,” the largest group of survey respondents answered “in-store browsing”:
- In-store browsing.
- Targeted ads.
- Brands I follow.
- Friends & family.
- None of the above.
The Blis study points out that a 2013 a survey from Ipsos found TV was the primary source of new product information for the majority of respondents (58 percent), “closely followed by friends and family.” In the Blis survey, “friends and family” was near the bottom, and TV had slipped to third place.
The survey also asked about the products that shoppers prefer to buy in store rather than online. Of the six categories mentioned, groceries, furniture and clothing were heavily skewed toward stores. An unrelated survey, released earlier this year (download form), from Walker Sands, found something directionally similar.
Blis survey respondents also revealed that they sometimes spend between 20 percent and 50 percent more in stores for products than when they go online. This reaffirms the power of in-store shopping, which retailers have long understood, and why an offline shopper is typically much more valuable than an online shopper.
Another interesting finding from the study is the number of consumer research “visits” (digital or in-store) before a purchase is made. For purchases between $250 and $750, the most common answer was two to three times. I suspect if specific product categories were being examined, we’d see much more variation in the responses.
Somewhat ambiguously, the second-most common answer was “If I have made it to the store, then I tend to make the purchase then and there.”
This finding suggests the power and immediacy of the store experience and being in front of the desired product. However, it’s not clear whether these people are buying at the beginning or end of their process.
The study, like many others, affirms the importance of a multichannel marketing approach, but unlike many other shopping studies, it emphasizes the critical role of the physical store in shopper persuasion. Now, most traditional retailers just have to do a better job of connecting their digital and offline channels.
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