Consumers Increasingly Rely on Digital Channels for Purchase Planning
Oct 12

Consumers Increasingly Rely on Digital Channels for Purchase Planning

About half of brand purchases are unplanned and not driven by a need to replenish, according to Nielsen research. Consumers do plan, however, to spend as little time in-store as possible.

Brands and marketers should take this as an opportunity to influence purchase decisions before the consumer even sets foot in the store. By providing consumers with value through digital mediums, brands can keep themselves at the front of consumers minds during purchase decision-making.

Recent Nielsen research finds coupons to be the top pre-store purchase influencer among non-replenishing purchases (15% of the time). However, it’s important to realize that digital resources are primarily how shoppers find and obtain these coupons. Consumers get more than 40% of the coupons they use for brand purchases from websites (30%) and email or mobile apps (11%).

Consumers report using pre-store online resources about seven percent of the time, which is more frequent than levels for recommendations and advertising.

The most common resource consumers leverage are coupon and retailer websites—and they’re most likely looking for deals (59%). Consumers also devote time to looking at emails or online offers (28%), managing their shopping list online (27%) and comparing prices (26%).

Brands in nutritional categories, personal care, and infant care have the highest levels of pre-store digital engagement levels. While social media is frequently leveraged during this digital sleuthing, coupon sites and brand websites are also destination points for consumers.

The category of nutritional drinks and shakes, for instance, tops Nielsen’s study of pre-store digital engagement. Here, Nielsen found consumers leverage social media sites most often in their search. Comparatively, consumers interested in the baby food category leveraged social media, coupon sites and brand websites.

While digital pre-store purchase planning activities continue to surge ahead, retailers still have plenty of room to grow when it comes to in-store digital activities like the acceptance of digital coupons and mobile shopping lists.

According to Nielsen’s April 2015 The Future of Grocery report, 18 percent of consumers globally use online or mobile coupons. However, about two-thirds (65 percent) of them reported they would be willing to use them in the future.

So why is it that there are such relatively low adoption rates of mobile coupons when consumers are so willing to use them? Retailers simply aren’t ready when it comes time to checkout. In order to convert these pre-store purchase decision-making efforts into actual purchases, retailers need to improve their in-store technology fast.

Nielsen’s data shows that there’s still a point where brands and marketers can reach consumers to influence purchase decision-making. However, the ability to reach consumers during this time is reliant on the ability of brands to tailor their content to their category with the proper technology.