Purchase habits changing, Google says

05 July 2011

NEW YORK: Marketers must now adapt their strategies to cover numerous "moments of truth" on the path to purchase, Google has argued.

Google partnered with Shopper Sciences, a unit of Mediabrands, to survey 5,003 adults, and found they now use 10.4 sources of information when considering acquisitions, up from 5.3 in 2010.

The research divided potential forms of influence into three areas, firstly discussing "stimulus" - or traditional push marketing - mediums.

In all, 37% of contributors stated TV advertising exerted an impact on their decisions, while 31% cited direct mail like catalogues and brochures, falling to 29% for newspaper ads and inserts.

Newspaper editorial registered 28% and magazine editorial stood at 27%, beating advertising through the same print channel, on 24%.

Emails from a brand or manufacturer scored 23%, online ads 22%, products integrated into TV shows 21% and outdoor advertising 16%.

The second featured category, the "Zero Moment of Truth", constituted activities directly undertaken by netizens.

Half of the panel searched for information on the internet before making purchases, and 49% talked with friends and family.

A further 38% compared goods online, 36% visited official websites, 31% read user reviews and 22% logged on to e-commerce sites, matching the ratings for perusing articles and opinion pieces on the net.

Elsewhere, 18% opted to become the "fan" of a company or brand on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.

"Whether you're buying a new refrigerator or a jet engine, you want to do your homework in advance," said Beth Comstock, General Electric's senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

At the "final moment of truth" in bricks and mortar stores, 41% of participants examined packaging, 37% read pamphlets and brochures, 33% spoke to salespeople, 30% looked at signage and 19% sampled goods.

Mark Addicks, General Mills chief marketing officer, said: "There are certain times of day when we see consumers come to our sites - when they are literally trying to figure out, 'What's for dinner tonight?'"

"At stores, you can see moms running in around four o'clock."

The number of shoppers using "stimulus" channels during the purchase funnel peaked at 86% in the automotive sector, 84% concerning credit cards and 79% for insurance and over-the-counter healthcare.

Among the digital behaviours tracked, totals came in at 97% in relation to automotive, 94% in assessing insurance and 91% for banking.

The scores covering in-store triggers reached 97% for cars, ahead of the 95% lodged by health and beauty lines.

Similarly, when looking to grocery products, bricks and mortar marketing materials delivered 95%, measured against 64% for traditional push channels and 61% regarding proactive research and word of mouth.

The analysis also revealed 82% of 18-34 year olds turned to "stimulus" mediums on the path to purchase, while 91% engaged in "Zero Moment of Truth" pastimes and 81% used information gathered in stores.

Such returns were roughly 5% higher than 35-49 year olds, a gap which was even larger compared with 50-plus year olds, except for in-store collateral, where older consumers posted 76%.

Parallel trends applied across the "second moment of truth", or talking about goods and services bought with friends, family and colleagues, writing user reviews and blogs, and entering comments on social media.

Once again, 18-34 year olds had the greatest uptake on 70%, declining to 62% among 35-49 year olds, and 51% for shoppers who were at least 50 years old.

"We're entering an era of reciprocity. We now have to engage people in a way that's useful or helpful to their lives," said Kim Kadlec, worldwide vice president of the global marketing group at Johnson & Johnson.

Data sourced from Google; additional content by Warc staff