Price comparisons and a cautious approach to impulse purchases are among the ways consumers have changed their buying habits for self-care products.
To make connections in the face yet another year of economic uncertainty, brands must do more than just offer discounts. A report on mindful shopping trends says that brands should also engage consumers authentically with unique product experiences, and promote eco-conscious practices. Salsify Recently released
The report revealed that, despite the fact that 2023 will be a year of strong spending, it is still proving to be a difficult battle for brand manufacturers, distributors and retailers in order to dominate the digital shelf.
Salsify’s Research Director Dom Scarlett says that the mantra of the consumer is mindful shopping. He emphasizes the importance of each brand interaction being engaging and consistently outstanding.
He told the E-Commerce Times that “authenticity” becomes a focal point. This is because relatable connections and high-quality images and content are just as important as discounts and pricing in influencing customers to purchase.
Salsify Report: Spicy findings
Salsify’s “2024 Consumer Research Report” revealed that 39% of shoppers are looking for budget-friendly items, while 35% are focusing on the essentials. 31% are intensifying their price comparisons. 26% are avoiding impulse purchases and 22% have deliberately delayed purchases. These new shopping trends are a radical departure from the previous habits of consumers.
Shoppers are still driven by convenience and fiscal responsibility. This makes e-commerce — from product discovery to consideration and decision — even more intrinsic to the buying journey,” Scarlett offered. “Sixty five percent of respondents prefer shopping online to in-store due to both convenience and cheaper prices.”
Nearly half of consumers (49%) want the same thing as Goldilocks: the perfect combination of online and offline shopping. In the omnichannel age, consumers are navigating between opposites. They use their smartphones in-store for research and have nearly a quarter made an online purchase while standing in a brick-and mortar store aisle.
Researchers say that this Goldilocks Zone combines online convenience and in-store immersion. It emphasizes the need for brands to offer seamless experiences to attract shoppers anywhere. While 49% of respondents prefer this balance, online shopping is more popular than brick-and mortar stores, with 29% of respondents favoring it.
Shoppers Love Dynamic Product Pages
A second key change in buying is the expectation of product information by shoppers. In a survey of 2700 online shoppers, 78 percent said that they prefer product pages with pictures and descriptions.
Prior to making a purchase, research shows that shoppers are looking for a comprehensive view of the product, focusing on factors such as high-quality images, video demonstrations and 360-degree views.
The convenience of shopping anywhere and anytime is combined with a product experience that’s almost the same as holding it in your hands. In order to meet the content expectations, 45% of customers return items because they are not accurate.
“Even if shoppers make it out and about — as a hefty 57% still enjoy discovering new items in brick-and-mortar locations — 54% have used a smartphone in a physical store to search for more information. Additionally, 48% of shoppers are guilty of ‘showrooming,’ or going to a physical store to check out an item before buying it online,” said Scarlett.
Shoppers may not be able to physically inspect a product. He added that shoppers love to see products “in action” on the digital shelves.
According to a report, consumers consider it “extremely” or “very” important that product detail pages (PDPs), offer a clear view on pricing and discounts (79%), images of products (78%), descriptions of products (78%), as well as customer ratings and reviews (72%).
Green Initiatives Gain Ground
The “greenovation” movement is gaining momentum among consumers. When researchers asked respondents which brand ethics and sustainability practices resonated with their hearts, eco-friendly packing (34%) was the most popular response. Fair labor practices (27%), ethical sourcing (23%), and fair labor practices were also highly rated.
“Given the responses we have received, it is clear that shoppers’ concerns about greenovation are most likely to arise after they have already held the product in their hands. Scarlett suggested that shoppers are likely to be positive about eco-friendly packaging, as it emphasizes the shared responsibility of the brand and consumer.
He said that the new approach was similar to that of consumers asking, “Sure I’ll buy your products, but how can i lessen my impact with what I discard?”
The source of the product and its ownership is also important to shoppers. The shoppers pay attention to the production process, the materials used, and who produced the product. They also consider the relationships between the people and the environment.
“Getting their product in hand is not the only concern. There’s a larger ask of, ‘At what cost?'” He added.
It is important for retailers to understand how to adapt their marketing strategies to deal with greenovation. Also, it is worth noting that when asked about brand ethics and sustainability practices, 28% of respondents responded “none”.
Scarlett warned that this idea may highlight brands’ responsibility to diversify their engagements in a manner that attracts more attention from consumers and, of course has a positive impact on the planet.
The Emerging AI Preferences
The future may see shoppers becoming more interested in AI-powered shopping features as more ecommerce applications begin to integrate the technology. Shoppers are most interested in the following five AI-powered features:
- Virtual Shopping Assistants (24%),
- Personalized brand or product recommendations (23%)
- Smart Size Recommendations for Fashion Products (23%).
- Virtual try-on tool (21%).
- Virtual showroom tours (20%).
Although the enthusiasm for AI is different across all age groups, older generations tend to be the most sceptical. Baby boomers in particular show a marked reluctance to engage with AI shopping features, with 60% of them expressing no interest. This attitude reflects a wider reluctance to adopt AI technologies in the digital store.
Gen Z, and millennials in particular, show an increasing interest in AI-powered shopping. They are interested in exploring advanced features like virtual assistants, personalized recommendations, and smart size tools. This divergence illustrates the clear generational difference in attitudes about AI’s potential to enhance shopping experiences.
“Opposition to AI and its slow adoption may be due to misconceptions of the capabilities and limitations, and how it can bridge the gap in online and in-store retail, such as with virtual try-ons,” said he.
Marketing Method Must Grow Up
Take note, marketers and retailers: Customers are not interested in artificial intelligence used to sell products. However, transforming your brand with greener and ethically sound practices is more than a strategic move in an uncertain economy — it is a shopper magnet, according to researchers.
Eco-friendly packaging is what resonates most with shoppers, followed closely by fair labor and ethical sourcing. Shopping habits have changed. 88% of consumers now reject social or political causes, as well as social responsibility programs.
As strong as any shoppers’ preferences are on convenience, pricing, sustainability, and AI, a huge opportunity — albeit responsibility — still exists at times for brands to help shoppers find what they need or want, recommended Scarlett.
He concluded that “expanding social commerce, rolling out new recycling initiatives or loyalty programs, or offering new AI shopping features can not only capture the attention of an entire new market, but also turn the tide towards any given trend.”
Retailers have a new game plan
Scarlett says that the growth of online shopping has put shoppers in a more powerful position, and they enjoy it. But brands aren’t powerless.
Brands can reach their current customers more effectively and grow their audience by committing to the quality of product content and optimizing it, and also by experimenting on new and existing channels.
“Brands not only need to be discovered, they need to deliver high-quality experiences — whether that happens on a social media platform, brick-and-mortar, or everywhere in between,” he said.