Competitive pricing and promotions hold the most sway over shoppers, and pricing is becoming an ever-more significant factor, according to a pair of studies released in June 2012. Results from a RIS News and Cognizant survey [download page] indicate that price is the most significant factor affecting both online and in-store purchase decisions for US and Canadian shoppers. And data from a Parago shopping behavior study [pdf] reveals that as 70% of American consumers have grown more sensitive to price in the last year, virtually all (98%) say they shop in locations that consistently offer the best prices at least some of the time, and 96% also say they shop where there are the best deals on the items they need at the moment.
Online Reviews, Cross-Channel Experience Not So Important
RIS and Cognizant’s “2012 Shopper Experience Study” suggests that the prevalence of pricing as an in-store purchase influence means that showrooming is a real concern for brick-and-mortars. However, some other trends appear to not be so influential. For example, other customers’ online ratings and reviews are one of the least influential factors for in-store shoppers. And comments on social media sites are the least influential of all. This particular finding mirrors results from a recent Reuters and Ipsos poll, which found that Facebook impressions (ads and comments) have influenced only 1 in 5 users to buy a product or service. Before throwing the social media strategy out the window, though, consider that among the 18-33 and 34-45 age groups, social media comments actually ranked #1 on the list of in-store purchase influencers.
In other noteworthy results, despite much attention paid to the importance of a seamless cross-channel experience, respondents rated the consistency of experiences and information online, on mobile devices, and in the store towards the bottom of the list of their online purchase influencers (3.4 on a 5-point scale). Similarly, other customers’ online ratings and reviews ranked near the bottom of the list of factors (also with a score of 3.4) for online purchases.
Traditional Beats Online for Consumables Research
The report demonstrates that when it comes to researching consumables prior to purchase, digital methods are much less frequently used than traditional methods. For example, before shopping for consumables – such as groceries, health and beauty, and household supplies – respondents most often turn to information provided on product packaging (4.2 on a 5-point scale of frequency), print materials (3.5), and shelf signs or interactive product displays (3.3). Social media (1.3) and a store’s mobile smartphone application (0.6) barely register on consumers’ radars.
There are some clear differences when it comes to researching specialty items such as clothing, electronics, and office supplies, though. Internet searches and websites rank as the most frequently used resource (2.6), ahead of print materials (2.4), a store’s website (2.4), and information provided on product packaging (2.3). Once again, social media (1.4) and mobile apps (0.7) are a non-factor. Even so, the mix of online and traditional resources suggests that when it comes to shopping for specialty items, a multi-channel experience is of more importance to shoppers.
- Ease of returning products (3.9) was the #3 most influential purchase factor for online shoppers. This supports a recent study from comScore and UPS which found that for online shoppers, ease of making returns/exchanges is above-average in importance and below-average in satisfaction. Ease of returning products also ranked highly for in-store specialty item shopping.
- According to the Parago study, 95% of consumers look for sales, deals, rebates, and/or best advertised prices before shopping at least some of the time.
- 94% of consumers also review circulars/advertising to compare prices before shopping at least some of the time.
- The vast majority (95%) of consumers are at least somewhat interested in seeking out products that come with rebates.
- Slightly more than three-quarters of consumers will drive 5-10 minutes out of their way for a $10 discount on a $50 product.
- 96% of women and 94% of men say they shop for price over brand at least some of the time.
About the Data: The RIS News/Cognizant data is based on an online survey of 2,122 shoppers in the US and Canada conducted in April 2012. The respondent pool was 70% female and 30% male. The age group breakdown is as follows: 18-33 (30%); 46-64 (29%); 34-45 (20%); and 65+ (20%).
The Parago study is based on an online survey completed in February 2012 by 1,001 consumers.