In the minefield of online shopping, new research from Newsworks indicates that the right kind of mental availability is crucial in providing reassurance to shoppers, many of whom consider online shopping to be a risky experience.

Writing for WARC, Denise Turner, insights director at Newsworks, sets out how the trade body explored mental availability in online retail, carrying out qualitative and quantitative research, including a survey of 2,008 people across the UK.

“We honed-in on the unique psychology of both online and offline shopping and found that [Byron] Sharp’s central tenet of mental availability should matter to marketers more than ever,” she reports.

“We uncovered a positive message about the continued power of brands and mass marketing.” (For more details, read the full article: Does mental availability matter in the digital age?)

More than 40% of respondents, both those defined as risk takers and as risk averse, regard online shopping as risky; and their perceptions of risk significantly diminish feelings of trust, confidence and control when making online shopping decisions.

In an environment where choice is huge, it is all too easy for people to feel overwhelmed.

“The online shopping experience provides brands with a significant opportunity,” says Turner. “They help online shoppers, reducing risk and uncertainty, filling the gap left by the absence of physical sensory cues.”

Mental availability is about much more than simple awareness, then. “It plays a key role in providing the diagnostic information and psychological resources people need to feel in control and make confident decisions.”

And the media context in which consumers encounter that information is crucial. The Newsworks research indicates that “news brands work in a way that is analogous with the messy world of real families and networks of friends,” Turner suggests.

“Just like familial relationships or friendships, news brands are valued for subjectivity and honesty. These are human attributes that give the information that people encounter in their news brand additional salience and currency.” 

Sourced from WARC