Understanding how technology influences consumer purchasing decisions and brand loyalty.
Consumers are using technology to better understand what they need and why, prior to searching for the solution. They are researching using Google, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and review sites reading blogs, watching videos, reading reviews and assessing influencer / expert opinions. Evidence suggests that this research continues right up to the final point of purchase meaning there are many opportunities to the consumer to change their mind.
In researching the initial need, consumers consider the source of information and the credibility of the platform itself. Do they trust the information they are getting and are others also backing this up? Word of mouth and recommendations are still the most powerful tool for any brand, but this is now sought out proactively via reviews, influencers and their social network.
We recently attended the Olympia Beauty show and one of the panel sessions featured speakers from Google, IBM, Facebook and Treatwell. The panel focused on the fact that technology has shifted from being a ‘nice to have’ beauty add on to a critical enabler for any beauty brand.
This doesn’t mean every brand needs a virtual try on app or a skin analysing tool for example, but more that technology forms part of the decision-making process at every stage. Mastering this area of your business is paramount for future success. Another factor to understand is when and where this information is being consumed? During a mid-morning coffee (snappy topline content) or in the evening with time to focus (deep dive content). Success comes from deep insight into your consumer’s behaviour, rich data and a brand’s ability to interpret this data to shape marketing strategy and planning.
This has always been a critical success factor for any brand and a driver of loyalty. Never more than it is today, but with an added level of expectation. A service that is personalised to the individual, that predicts what they want and why, that takes away all effort, removes friction and ultimately solves their individual problem. It’s as simple as that! Again, data and insight will drive success in this area, but also looking beyond the original purchase intent to what a consumer may actually need (searching skincare, but actually needing diet/wellness solutions). Take Chatbots/AI for example. To have instant consumer service that predicts questions based on behaviour and assists in moving them forward seamlessly to final purchase is surely utopia. But, technology without the core fundamentals of customer service (i.e. issue resolution, loyalty management) in place would be in vane and could actually work against a brand.
Consumers can easily compare value from a price and product features/benefits point of view and this has long been a given. However, consumers now want to understand the bigger picture and the story behind the brand. How did the company produce the product, what is their sustainability stance, what is the vision/purpose? This all comes with the expectation that if you say it, you do it! Social media is a fantastic platform from which to demonstrate this by showcasing employees in action, releasing behind the scenes footage and demonstrating delivering the promise. So, tech is playing an ever-increasing role in the beauty world. Adding to the product experience, navigating the decision-making process, enabling individual tailored experiences and outputting a bank of rich targeted data for companies to handle with care.
All of this underpins the basics needs of today’s consumer:
1. An authentic conversation
2. Great tailored product offer
3. Flawless personalised service
Finally, with all of the above in mind…Keep it simple!