The behavior of the customer has shifted over time and there are many factors that influence this. The most obvious one is the world going digital.
Earlier, the market used to be the center, but now everything revolves around the customer. Technology has made the customer powerful. It informs him of the numerous choices he has for a single product also helps him arrive at a decision about which would be the most suitable product/service for him.
As customers experienced the convenience, availability of vast options, personalized products, and other such advantages offered by the digital realm, there were major changes in the way they shopped.
Another factor that influenced such behavior is socio-economic disparities. The world right now is more divided than ever. In most countries, the economic divide between the rich and the poor is widening. Also, as work ecosystems are going through unforeseen changes, in an attempt to fit the ‘now,’ people are abandoning their standard ways of living and embracing new ones – either deliberately or forcefully.
With time, the social ladder skipped many rungs and now, all that remains is the rich upper class, the poor lower class, and a vast volume of difference in between them. So, it’s obvious who has more choices to tailor their shopping tastes to fit their lifestyles.
Demographics are yet another criteria that influence the shopping trends of customers. It is an unset standard that young people are more inclined to trying new things, while the older populations tend to stick to their conventions.
However, these lines are blurring too. There are different sections of the market that are of interest to the young and the old respectively. Following market research and behavioral surveys could give important details to plan marketing strategies that complement particular demographics.
The pandemic has definitely set in changes, drastic than ever. It altered the preferences, mindsets, and habits of people. Once, hygiene and sustainability were just options that were least considered, now, they are the apex in demand.
After spending enough time on the digital platform, and understanding its nooks and corners, today’s customer is the most advanced, aware, and uncertain entity in the business landscape.
So, let’s go back in time and journey the trends of the customer.
With the benefit of hindsight and many market studies, we can break down the customer behavior trends into three paradigms.
The ‘Moment of Truth’ Funnel
This is the initial phase of customer development. These were the ‘good old days’ for marketers; what they wanted to sell, they advertised and what they advertised, sold!
The ‘moment of truth was a term coined by A.G.Lafley in 2005, as years passed, multiple moments of truth came into being, which we are now referring to as, the moment of truth funnel.
In a customer’s shopping journey, there are three moments of truth.
The first is when they make contact with the product and give it more preference than the rest of its rivals.
The second is when they make a purchase, experience the product, and trust its promise.
The third is when they become ambassadors of the product and spread it by word of mouth or through social media.
The internet-centered loop
With the entry of the internet, this funnel soon progressed into a loop. Here, a new concept was introduced that preceded the first moment of truth. It was termed as the ‘zero moment of truth’ by Google. This moment is when a customer researches about a product before considering it for purchase.
In this approach, the third moment of truth, also known as the ultimate moment of truth is looped with the zero moment of truth. This means that a user’s experience or feedback is used as a source or the zero moment of truth for another user or the same customer at another point in time.
This paradigm highlights the importance of customer satisfaction. If a product does not live up to the promise it made, then it is most probably going to garner a negative reputation in the market.
So, this is how the market shifted from preferring its own demand and supply to catering to the whims and needs of the customer.
This depicts the design of our current consumer behavioral trend.
One thing to note about our present market dynamics is, loyalty is an outdated concept. Gone are the days when a customer comes back to you because he liked your product and appreciated your service.
Now, if you want them to keep coming back, you either have to woo them in with offers and special coupons, or dish out product ads that they would surely shell out money for.
This shift is in line with the digital marketing strategies businesses are following. For every minute that a consumer spends at a digital outlet, an exponential amount of information is being poured out in front of them.
At times, even when they don’t plan on buying anything, they end up spending, because that’s how good digital marketing is. However, it’s an art that’s not easy to master.
So, with all this in mind, it’s easy to predict the future behavior of the consumers. They are going to be more dynamic, proactive, and they know what they want and how they want it. It’s up to the marketing teams to figure out these elements and unearth vital insights.
How Businesses must prepare for this?
The only way to satisfy a customer is to put yourself in their shoes. No matter how much of a third-person perspective you try to reach, it will always differ from what your customer expects. So, why waste time chiseling out plans that are bound to fail. Rather, open up and work with your customer.
Developing customer interaction can lead you to significant insights about your products and services. Also, when they feel like their opinions are being heard and valued, they feel included in your brand and develop an emotional connection with your product.
So, in a world where product loyalty is obsolete, this could be the best way for achieving the promise of your customer.
Investing in technology is a no-brainer. Considering the number of technological advancements in the digital realm of businesses, it is only natural that you stay on top of all the important innovations that are pertinent to your industry. More so in the case of marketing.
Big data and Digital marketing unlock treasure troves of information; which if processed efficiently, lead to major breakthroughs in business plans.
Apart from digital applications, do make use of some standards that never go out of style; like influencer marketing. This is always an efficient way to market your products. When used right, it eliminates anonymity and hesitation while considering your brand and strengthens the trust and utility factors of your product.
The importance of hiring right cannot be emphasized enough. Since, customers, these days must be treated with care and caution, having an employee base that understands the sensitivity of this issue is important. Also, for reasons like performance, productivity, and value, employing a workforce that resonates with the vision and mission of your business is vital. Finally, experiment and evolve. In the present scenario, nothing is certain. What works today may not work tomorrow. So, keep upgrading yourself to adapt to this everchanging business realm.