The internet has had a profound impact on nearly every aspect of modern living. From studying to dating, people in the 21st century cannot imagine waking up to a disconnected world. Near unlimited information is at the fingertips of anyone with a PC or – more likely – a mobile phone. If marketing is the exchange of specific information for consumer interaction, the internet can be a business’ best friend or worst enemy.
Internet presence is one of the key drivers of the buying behaviour of modern consumer market. An internet, or online, presence can be defined simply as “any existence of an individual or business that can be found via an online search.”
This is a crucial point to keep in mind as research shows that modern consumers are a unique group of shoppers when it comes to buyer behaviour:
- Modern shoppers have the means to perform thorough research on the items they seek before visiting a brick and mortar store. This is true for all services, any appliance, all vehicles and even consumer goods. This trend is rapidly increasing among all consumers with the market penetration of the internet and especially smart phones.
- It is becoming increasingly common for modern shoppers – using smart phones – to search for a better priced option on the item they have selected after they have found the item in a store.
- Modern shoppers will check stock availability online before visiting a store.
- Two thirds of consumers have indicated that they will visit a retailers’ website and shop online for an item they want if the store is closed.
- Nearly all the respondents of those surveyed indicated that real-time availability of information will influence their buying choices in terms of which stores they visit.
The last point stretches into the social media sphere, as modern shoppers value the opinions of their peers. This means that they will base their buying choices in terms of product, service and store on online reviews and reputation of a retailer. In fact, further research has shown that shoppers that use social media in their shopping process is four times more likely to spend more money on purchases and a third more likely to make their purchase on the same day when using social media to research their shop before and/or during a trip to the store.
Online reputation is the biggest pitfall for a business in the modern, connected consumer world. It has been a trite belief for a long time that when a customer has a good experience, they will tell few people about it, but when a customer has a bad experience, they will tell everyone about it. This is still true in the online sphere and based on the modern consumer’s penchant for online research prior to shopping, an unanswered bad review can sink a business’ chances of gaining a new client. Businesses that interact with modern consumers on the platforms they expect and offer the information they want when they want it, have a chance to influence their buying behaviour. By building a connection to consumers through social media even when they are not actively shopping, means that business will be top of mind when the consumer is looking to spend money.