Today, we are going to look how the world of marketing to consumers has been impacted by the Internet. Understanding the way the Internet has changed consumer behavior is critical for leaders who want to sustain and grow their businesses.
The first thing to look at is spontaneity. Until recently, regular repeatable processes marked consumer buying activity. That “regularity” include trips to the mall, review of the ads in the Sunday newspaper, speaking to family and friends about information and recommendations and such. With professionals, a consumer is likely to check with friends at church, in the civic club, or at the gym before hiring a dentist or a lawyer. Regularity in making a buying decision took time. Decisions had to be made within the common routines of life. If your business presence online was weak online, your other marketing efforts may have sufficed to bring you the new customer or client.
The Internet, aided dramatically by the smart phone, has changed that. Now when a need or an idea comes to mind, the buying process can jump into high gear spontaneously. Without the need to change location or communicate with another, a consumer can immediately gather all the information to make a decision.
First, they compare products or services. All factors related to the product or services can be examined exhaustively.
Second, searchers shop price, looking for the terms of the best deal possible.
Third, online reviews take the place of personal recommendations. Often, a consumer has a number to consider. On a recent purchase my wife and I had access to over 900 reviews.
In many cases a purchase may be immediately made, or an appointment scheduled, or communications started (email, chat, phone) with the goods or services provider.
The business owner must understand how this new “spontaneity” works and make sure the business’ online persona provides critical decision making information any time of day or night online. Not being found or appreciated online devastate the health of any business.