Changing buyer motivations and behaviour
At the Chartered Institute of Marketing’s Digital Summit in October, a key discussion topic was changing buyer motivations and behaviours – particularly given the frantic, tech and media driven world we now live in.
Technology is now inherent to most people’s lives, so much so that it’s changing our perceptions and expectations. Only recently there was an amusing tot up of 50 things you’d have to carry around if you didn’t have a smartphone. The combined weight of these was 34.35kg weight compared to just only 148g for the phone!
We are so used to having easy access to the information, help and the tools we need for our daily lives. This expectation of ease and speed is translating into our preferences when we buy and who we buy from. Here are some interesting takeaways on changing buyer motivations and behaviour to be on the look-out for. They apply to both consumer and business-to-business markets.
As the 50 things you’d have to carry round shows, the accessibility of resources and solutions that Mobile has brought is making us more impatient to find immediate solutions to our questions and needs. Customers favour those businesses who can provide fast response times, easy to find answers to their questions and a prompt and efficient service. If they don’t get these, they will go elsewhere. And they may be vocal publicly about their disappointment. Businesses who are more agile and quick to respond will steal the edge on their slower rivals.
People still like doing research before committing to buy. Interestingly though more of them are turning to social media to research, compared to the traditional search engines. This means it is vitally important to be on the social channels your customers and target audience frequent. In doing so have content posted that answers individual frequently asked questions and/or signposts the value and variety of uses your product/service can bring.
The power of peers
As part of their research leading up to purchase, people are canvassing the opinions of their peers more and more. Latest research into Trust of Companies and Brands by Endelman found that people increasingly turn to peers and trust their advice and guidance when making buying decisions.
The strength of the word of mouth and the advocacy of your customer base is therefore highly important if you want to attract other like-minded customers. It also means businesses may need to review where they are focusing their marketing spend – are they, for example focused purely on attracting new clients, when investment in nurturing their existing customer base will bring more rewards? And it’s important that, for those potential customers who don’t know someone who has bought from your company, that they can access positive sentiment and opinion on review sites and social media. If you have delighted customers, call on their goodwill to leave testimonials, reviews and positive feedback to support this information need in prospective customers.
Another point the Summit raised was that all too often companies get obsessed with getting sizeable follower numbers on social media but this doesn’t necessarily translate into greater engagement levels and revenue. What does, however, is when companies focus instead on building a community – not simply followers. A community requires genuine collaboration, dialogue and shared interests. It’s a two-way activity that, when it works well, elevates a company and brand over others.
Humans like dealing with humans
Despite all the sophisticated tech out there and predictions we will all be communicating with robots and bot-driven online customer services, people still favour humans. The basic desire for human interaction hasn’t gone away. It means when people get in touch with a company they’d prefer a prompt, human response. So perhaps don’t be tempted to outsource your customer services to bots. Instead, maintain having people in your organisation able to respond to comments and questions posed on social media and via your other contact channels. People like people and the intuition, empathy, experience and learning that a human brings to a conversation.
Get it right first time… and make the process enjoyable
Another common theme in relation to buyer motivations was time. Time now plays a big part in our desires and motivations in the buying process. It means:
- We want the right product and product quality first time (because we don’t have time to change it)
- We want the right price first time (because we haven’t got the time to shop around)
- Once we’ve selected our purchase we want it delivered as quickly, conveniently and as smoothly as possible
People want to invest minimal effort when buying; they want to solve their desire or need quickly and move on to the next thing. Those companies who are agile and flexible in delivering a customer experience which is frictionless and quick, will earn greater client loyalty.
Whilst people want to buy and move on, the post-purchase evaluation period is still very important. If they’re delighted with their purchase they’ll be positively vocal about it (we’re back to the peer influencers again). Similarly if they’re not delighted with their purchase, they’ll be very vocal about it. Companies need to recognise the post –purchase period as another important facet of the customer journey. Actively enhance the experience here in some way and you’ll earn greater engagement and interest from the customer going forward.
Be on the right channel
We’ve said this before in our blog, but there are still many companies investing time and energy in social media channels their target markets don’t really engage with. As generations evolve, so do their social media preferences. Currently it means if you want to engage with the youth market and millennials you’re better on Instagram and Snapchat. For Generation X’s it’s twitter and facebook. Human preferences change though and it’s important to keep monitoring the best channels for your target audience.
It’s also important to not succumb to favouring quantity over quality when you create content for your channels. Stick to content themes which your customers will engage with. Let your understanding of them influence creating content which will resonate with them. The more your content taps into their interests, desires, goals, concerns etc the more engaged they’ll be.
Technology is changing the way in which people buy. It is making them keen to find solutions and answers quickly and effortlessly. At the same time basic human needs remain constant. Those companies who truly understand their customers, and keep abreast of their changing desires and needs, will be the ones whose marketing stands out and is the most effective. There’s still a place for good quality, targeted and relevant marketing in today’s frenetic digital world. The customer is still very much at the heart of good marketing.