Digital influence in retail – the role of product categories

In my last arti­cle, I spoke about the very inter­est­ing study of Deloitte Dig­i­tal, “Nav­i­gat­ing the new dig­i­tal divide,” which stud­ies the influ­ence of dig­i­tal on pur­chas­es in stores.

Today I would like to come back in more detail on some key find­ings from this study: the fact that the influ­ence of dig­i­tal varies accord­ing to the prod­uct cat­e­gories and the moments of inter­ac­tion, but also the impor­tance of social media.

Some real dis­par­i­ties across prod­uct categories

From one prod­uct cat­e­go­ry to anoth­er, con­sumers inte­grate dig­i­tal with­in their buy­ing jour­ney in a dif­fer­ent way. We can note in par­tic­u­lar that 62% of con­sumers are influ­enced by dig­i­tal chan­nels when pur­chas­ing elec­tron­ic prod­ucts, while dig­i­tal influ­ence only 31% of sales when buy­ing food.

Sim­i­lar­ly, the crit­i­cal moments of inter­ac­tion in the cus­tomer expe­ri­ence can vary sig­nif­i­cant­ly depend­ing on prod­uct cat­e­gories. Thus, this crit­i­cal time is at the begin­ning of the buy­ing jour­ney for appar­el buy­ers when they are look­ing for inspi­ra­tion, while for baby and tod­dlers con­sumers, the most impor­tant inter­ac­tion times are in the mid­dle of the shop­ping jour­ney (dur­ing the prod­uct research time, and when they final­ly val­i­date their choice), or at the end, dur­ing the pur­chase itself, for food shopping.

More than ever, it is then essen­tial to iden­ti­fy those moments in order for a brand to posi­tion itself with suit­able responses.

Social media is essen­tial

Again, depend­ing on the dif­fer­ent prod­uct cat­e­gories, social has to be seen by retail­ers as a way to under­stand their con­sumers and guide them through their pur­chas­es: 56% of baby / tod­dler prod­ucts buy­ers go on social net­works at a time of their buy­ing jour­ney, against 40% for fur­ni­ture buy­ers, or 32% for those who want to buy a car.

Step­ping aside social media sim­ply because their direct ROI would be low (or dif­fi­cult to cal­cu­late) is unde­ni­ably a seri­ous mis­take. Just like Roland Gar­ros or Wim­ble­don, it is impor­tant to remem­ber that a game is not won at match point, but that every­thing is decid­ed dur­ing train­ing for weeks before match point: each ele­ment before pur­chase is impor­tant and vic­to­ry can­not be attrib­uted sole­ly to the last point.

The impor­tance to iden­ti­fy the ide­al inter­ac­tion time

In con­clu­sion, we see that the notion of iso­lat­ed dig­i­tal strat­e­gy is com­plete­ly obso­lete. On the con­trary, it is nec­es­sary to look at the busi­ness and over­all mar­ket­ing strat­e­gy in a glob­al way, in which dig­i­tal chan­nels (web­site, mobile, appli­ca­tion …) have their role to play in the same way than a paper cat­a­log or an ad.

Let’s keep in mind that the effec­tive­ness of each of these chan­nels depends on the time of inter­ac­tion with the con­sumer: the brand must be able to adapt its mes­sage to the mood of its cus­tomers, while real­is­ing that all inter­ac­tions aren’t good pur­chase times.

There­fore, this means that it is essen­tial to be able to make coin­cide mon­i­tor­ing and lis­ten­ing of what is said and done on social net­works (with a tool like Adobe Social, for exam­ple…), with pur­chas­es made on the com­pa­ny website.

In doing so, we will come to know the most crit­i­cal moments to inter­act with the audi­ence and gen­er­ate a mutu­al com­mit­ment: suc­ceed in mak­ing a con­sumer stick to a brand and as a brand, push con­tent, ser­vices and offers towards its audi­ence, and ensure that they are always more adapt­ed and personalised.

What about you, what do you think of these dis­par­i­ties in terms of prod­uct cat­e­gories and of the impor­tance of iden­ti­fy­ing the ide­al moments of inter­ac­tion? Do not hes­i­tate to dis­cuss and share your views in the comments!