I just want it the way I want it: orientation means N=1

20 October 2018

Who of you still remembers what it felt like to leaf through the Yellow Pages, or run your eyes over newspaper ads? Shoppers now are still broadly the same, in their different types and motives. It is the consumer behaviour in orientation that has changed completely and quickly, too.

Digital is how we look up information – be that on a PC, laptop, tablet, smartphone, smartwatch or smart home device. Whichever device we’re using, we have come to expect a tailormade experience, as though we are the only customer who matters. That’s the N=1 effect.

Sure, digital natives and digital immigrants inevitably experience the evolving customer journey differently. Digital natives see the new customer journey as simply part of their onlife existence. Baby boomers and the silent generation, however, tend to need a bit more time – as digital immigrants – to get used to the new way of shopping. Watch out, though! They are quickly catching up with the new opportunities.

Let’s take a closer look at the four general shopping motives. They often occur consecutively and, at times, may even overlap. They are social, hedonistic, utilitarian motives and prior-experience-driven motives and experiences. The motives apply to both traditional and onlife consumers; the difference is how each group chooses to shape the motives.

Social motives

Shopping has always been a social activity, meant to inspire. Then: going downtown with friends or family to wander around the shops or a mall was a social hobby. Now: social media influencers take the place of that one friend who has the best ideas on where to shop. Watching vlogs together, talking about them and following the same popular vloggers is a favorite pastime for passionate young shoppers. In China, so-called Wanghong, a new group of online influencers, have become important. They use Taobao, the Alibaba market platform, to recommend clothes and cosmetics which their followers can then order immediately.

Hedonistic motives

Self-centred and hedonistic motives pop up when shoppers want entertainment or experiences. Of course, passionate shoppers see the appeal of this, but so do deliberate ones — they love to be triggered during their exploring by their senses and their imaginations. A calculating shopper might be enticed by an exceptionally good bargain. Shopping streets are the perfect spots to satisfy hedonistic motives. Many downtown areas are eager to become vibrant places once more, offering the ultimate blend of shops, restaurants and bars, and culture. VR and AR will help to create new and in conceivably great experiences instore and at home.

Utilitarian motives

These motives are all about solving a problem swiftly, effectively and efficiently. Shopping is something to tick off your to-do-list. Calculating and passive shoppers are particularly inclined to explore options online before purchasing an item or service. Utilitarian values include supply information, delivery times and the convenience of ordering 24/7. Buying items in-store is great too, though, because that saves on shipping fees.

Prior-experience-driven motives for shopping

Past experiences effect future orientation. Bad experiences often influence calculating and deliberate shoppers to such an extent that they will not return to that (web) store again. Onlife consumers are inclined to go beyond their own (good and bad) experiences, letting reviews from others, vlogs or blogs also guide their decision-making process.

More on orientation next week: finding vs. being found

This is blog 30, based on my book ‘The end of online shopping. The future of retail in an always connected world’, published by Business Contact (Dutch/Flemish editions), Nubiz (English & Danish editions) Post & Telecom Publishers, Beijing (Chinese edition). The book will also be translated into German, Italian and Portuguese in 2018.

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