Three Ways Customers Are Shopping Smarter and How Businesses Can Reach Them

by Kayla Cille Terry

I used to shop “just because.” My first part-time job was at my aunt and uncle’s pool store, which was across the street from the local mall. I wandered around stores, spontaneously spending the paycheck I just earned. In college, I kept similar habits. I’d leave my dorm and head to the nearest super center with every intention to stock up on groceries, but would come home with plenty of random items that weren’t written on my shopping list. (Especially from the dollar bins, who can resist those?)

Now that I’m a more educated consumer with responsibilities beyond testing water samples for minimum wage, I’ve had to kick those habits and be more economical. The recession has forced me to rethink how carefully I shop and according to the 2011 Annual Pantry Survey from the people at Deloitte, I’m not the only one.

Over the past few years, the recession has created smarter and more efficient shoppers. Out of 4,000 respondents to Deloitte’s survey, 75 percent said they felt they were smarter shoppers than they were a year ago, and 86 percent think they’re getting more precise about purchases. Eighty percent say they now do more research about products and already have a price point in mind.

Why is this information important to companies? Consumers are doing more research before they shop, likely using the Internet as their main resource, which helps predetermine which brands they are loyal to and which ones they will pass on before they shop. This means that a company’s online presence is more valuable than ever. Connecting early and often with target audiences outside of stores is essential to gaining their patronage.

So, what should businesses be doing to keep up with smarter shoppers? Here’s three ways customers are shopping smart, and how business can reach them.

Online Shopping Outdoes In-Store Retail

As expected, this year’s Black Friday broke sales records, but just three days later consumers spent $1.25 billion during Cyber Monday. Some shoppers want the deals that Black Friday offers, but don’t want the hassle of dealing with crowds, lines or early-morning wake-ups. Offering equal or better deals online can bring in those online shoppers.

Consumers Use Their Mobile Devices to Search for Deals

Mobile traffic increased to 14.3 percent on Black Friday 2011. Users want to shop quickly and on the go, so make sure your business operates this way. Just another reason to make sure your website is user and mobile friendly.

Shoppers Use Social Media to Exchange Tips

Immediately before Black Friday, top discussion topics on social media sites showed a focus on the part of consumers communicating with one another. Join in on the conversation. This can encourage brand loyalty and shows that your business is concerned about customer relations.

I may still enjoy buying a random item or two but I’ve learned to spend time researching the best deal is and where I can get it. Are you still shopping “just because” without any prior research, or have you become a smarter shopper?

Kayla Cille Terry is a Digital Content intern at Luckie & Company. You can contact her by email or follow her on Twitter.

Photo credit: Caribb via Flickr

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