New research from retail and shopper marketing agency, Savvy, suggests that the rise of the 'connected shopper' has now reached a tipping point.
The mass adoption of smartphones and social media, broader technological advancements and, crucially the rise of Generation Y as a group of shoppers have fundamentally reshaped the path-to-purchase.
Alastair Lockhart, Insight Director at Savvy Marketing commented: "The rapid rise of the connected shopper reflects the enormous influence technology now has in our lives as shoppers - digital media inspirers us, is our go to place for product research and, in many cases, is where we buy products. Shopper behaviour is evolving more quickly than ever before, and the onus is now firmly on retailers and brands to keep up and be fit for the future."
Generation Y is driving a shopper revolution
The growing influence of tech-savvy Generation Y shoppers is the main reason that brands and retailers need to change the way they think. Once viewed as the shoppers of tomorrow, Generation Y is fast becoming the bullseye shopper. While this group currently represents around a third of shoppers, by 2022 they will account for 47% of shoppers.
This group of shoppers is constantly connected. Their smartphones sit at the centre of their lives, with 80% of Generation Y saying they look at their phones multiple times an hour. They are also highly active on social media - 97% having access social media in the past month. 95% have used messaging services like Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. In perspective only 55% of this group had read a printed newspaper (including free papers) during the past month.
66% of Generation Y shoppers say they regularly use their smartphone to buy products and nearly half (49%) regularly use their smartphones while in the supermarket.
Lockhart adds: "Retailers and brands need to think outside of the confines of stores and retail websites to unlock the full spending potential of Generation Y. Retailers and brands need to go where there shoppers are - and that place is mainly social media, especially Facebook.
It's not only about providing inspiration on social media, more and more it is about converting a sale. Younger shoppers seek ultimate convenience, so if they see something they want on Facebook, they want the option to buy there and then. Social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram now have 'Shop Now' buttons which retailers and brands can feature on their posts. Buttons like these provide a powerful means to convert sales at the point when shoppers have been inspired."
It's not only about Generation Y
While the research highlights a clear digital divide between younger and older shoppers, that is not to say we should forget about older shoppers when considering the connected shopper:
- 86% of all shoppers own a smartphone and 70% have a tablet
- 86% of all shoppers access social media during a month
- 61% of all shoppers have searched for a product using a search engine in the past month
- 56% of all shoppers have searched for recipe or idea of what to eat online during the past month
- 44% of all shoppers have liked or followed a brand that they like on social media in the past month
- In a typical month, 22% of all shoppers would buy a product as a result of seeing a social media post
- 20% of all shoppers say they would take advice about a product from bloggers or vloggers (rising to 34% among under 35s)
Lockhart concludes: "We live in a digital world where brands and retailers have the ability to inspire shoppers at any time and any place. Likewise, shoppers are able to buy products at any time and any place. This provides a substantial sales opportunity. And by seeking to convert sales at the point at which shoppers have been inspired - the point at which shoppers perceive maximum value in the brand - it can also help reduce discounting. When planning campaigns, retailers and brands need to start by looking at their shoppers: how they live, where they seek inspiration and what convenience means to them."
About the research
For this research, Savvy conducted an online survey of 1000 UK household shopping decision makers (from a nationally represented sample) in March and April 2017.