Digitization can be seen everywhere, from simple communications to online stores and now the new education method through the internet during this pandemic. This revolution in the digital network has drastically changed the way a consumer behaves in the market. Searching for products now begins on the internet like Google or social media platforms, which once used to start from brick and mortar stores.
Whether we are at home or work or even on the go, we constantly search for information online. Just going with our observation with the digital networking over the past few decades, digitalization has let customers grab the steering wheels and as a result, they have become demanding, more aware, and participating. A constantly emerging social trend in the market keeps on affecting the behavior of consumers and these changes can be difficult for companies to understand.
Since digitization has offered great influence on the customers, in today’s era they are referred to as “smart customers”, who have the power to make or break any business instantly—just a click away!
Hardly a day passes on the internet without the report of a new app or social trend. Thus, it is impossible to ignore the influence a digital market has on consumer behavior.
With growing technologies and newer innovations, the customers are empowered and have access to unlimited information about a company, its products, and services and widen their power to substitute over a brand. Besides these, social media also plays a critical role in providing consumers with a bigger voice and communicating their views about a brand with peers.
Over the years, many e-commerce and online retail platforms have emerged with sophisticated search engines integrations and have made search requests very precise for consumers. With digital pioneers constantly increasing the current standards, customers compare their purchasing experience with your rivals yet also with all other brands irrespective of their business or industry. They expect effortless, responsive, relevant, and customized content when they buy from you. The more precise these requests are, the simpler it becomes to approach the specific items or responses you want.
For instance, if you search for a “leather jacket”, it will only present generic products which probably are not what you are looking for. However, when you search for the exact query but this time with a specific term such as “Denim leather jacket in Melbourne”, the results are vastly indifferent.
Moreover, today’s “smart customers” prefer all and everything with visuals. Visual representation of a product or a company aids in prompt recognition of a business to the users. And where words struggle to convey, these savvy images communicate the information regardless of the language barrier.
During the moments of purchase, a customer usually verifies a product with the help of images provided rather than the specs and features described. They prefer simplicity and pictures are ideal for instances. These visual depictions entice the consumers and allow interactions which are the reasons for platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram to become a hit in this day and age.
While visual aids have pulled your customers to your website or digital store, it has only created a perception about your brand in their mind; the purchase is yet to happen. And how does this conversion occur? Through validation, which most customers search for via reviews and recommendations from other associated users of the brand. Well, this quest for validation is then fulfilled by the existing social media.
As per the Global Web Index, 54% of consumers use social media to review products and this accounts for about £22.8 billion per year in the UK alone that consumers invest in online shopping.
There was an era where people were considered total rational beings and were expected to have a want for a product based on their utilities only. But with the advancement in technologies and digitization, the free flow of information has enabled consumers to look beyond just a product's utilitarian value.
This enters the era of consumer experience. Other than the products’ functionality, the buyers nowadays wish to experience the products’ contribution in developing their own personality. Thus, your customers evaluate their experience the moment they enter your digital platform until they exit, and now this is true for a physical store as well.
Mobile phones are getting better with technology enabling for a better shopping experience. Furthermore, brands are pushing loyalty programs, real-time checks on inventory, and improved customer engagement. Smartphones, visually appealing online stores, and easy navigation make mobile-based purchases convenient and irreplaceable.
Although the world and technology have advanced with many features and machine learning, this still has not affected one aspect of consumer behavior, and that is “Price.” Consumers back then and even now are price sensitive. Though a general conviction afloat that the purchasing power of a normal consumer has expanded yet individuals are willing to move an extra mile to verify a product’s worth before following through with its premium price.
This does not imply that price never made a difference; rather, the only difference it states is that the buyers have ways to see whether a product merits the cost in this digital era.