3 key rules for better targeting the online purchaser

It is easy for marketers to fall into the trap of thinking about the online purchaser and the offline purchaser and what makes them different, forgetting that they are often the same person. Consequently, notions of the ‘online shopper’ and how they behave differently are often misguided.

We used Kantar Media’s TGI data of consumer behaviour to explore the different attitudes and behaviours exhibited by online and offline purchasers across three distinct categories: clothing, cosmetics and automotive.

In doing so, we sought to establish how a shopper’s choice to purchase offline or online correlates with other criteria that might influence their purchase decision, to build a more accurate picture of their attitudes and motivations and look at how retailers can capitalise on them. There were three key themes which are crucial to understand in order to more effectively identify and reach the online purchaser.

1.    Price is no more important in online purchasing

Our data shows those buying clothing or cosmetics online are no more likely to be converted by price-based marketing than those shopping in a store. Similarly, quality is just as important to online purchasers as offline purchasers. This all holds equally true for the purchasers of very high value items.

Consequently, retailers need to be careful in how they deploy price-focussed promotion and not make any assumptions about key motivations of those shopping via different channels.

2.    Product information more important to online purchasers

Shopping online will always carry certain limitations. For example, you can’t touch the fabric on an item of clothing or step inside a car. But it would be incorrect to assume that online purchasers are less discerning when it comes to product detail or quality than offline buyers. Indeed, our research shows that online purchasers of clothes and cosmetics are likely to be more discerning shoppers overall, more interested in the likes of ingredients, ease of care, composition and provenance than those purchasing offline. Similarly, online car buyers were significantly more likely to have used the internet to research different dealerships before purchasing than those who bought their car offline.

Thus, making information readily available online for would-be purchasers is a way for retailers to better appeal to this prevalent thirst for product knowledge.

3.    Online purchasers more likely to be swayed by advertising

Across the board, those who purchase online show a greater propensity for being influenced by advertising. This highlights the potential value inherent in these targets if they can be identified and reached effectively.

The value of targeting online purchasers is potentially huge, but it is important for marketers to base their approach on relevant, trusted insights, rather than any pre-conceptions or assumptions, in order to maximise the prospects of a campaign.  

* For more on this subject, see the guest comment piece from Kantar Media Director Anne Benoist that recently appeared in 'Internet Retailing'

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