Consumer Know How Blog
26 January 2010
Alex Marks - Head of International Business Marketing, eBay Advertising
It has to be said there are advantages to being a man, even in these days of enlightened thinking. I don’t mean our innate ability to find travel directions an interesting and perfectly acceptable discussion topic. Or even the fact that we are able to store and retrieve at will, important facts about dinosaurs. No, one of our main advantages in this modern world lies in our ability to shop at record speed. And time as we know, is precious.
But are we really ruthless hunters of goods and services? Do we take a focused and direct route to our chosen victim then once claimed escort it to the till, pay and leave with a feeling of self-satisfaction.
Sometimes yes, but a body of evidence, and it should be noted that there are differing views, suggests that somewhere between 20-60% of our purchases are entirely unplanned, and that goes for men as well as women. That’s an awful lot of wandering around, shrugging shoulders and thinking, ‘oh go on then’.
So what is at work here?
There are whole books written on the psychology of buying so I won’t try to cover all the bases here. Suffice to say that it is a combination of factors. Age and gender, in-store marketing and purchase type all have a part to play.
Our own recent research studies into online shopping (E-buyers Mind) also points to the fact that frequency of purchase impacts on how we choose our supplier. Whether it be a more casual search and price led decision for those infrequent purchases, or a more convenience based and brand loyal decision for the regular ones.
But if so much of what we buy is unplanned why do brands spend so much on advertising outside the shop? Well to counter that question with a statement – In-store marketing spend in the UK is around £25bn. Media spend is around £20bn. They are both enormous markets but how much do they work together?
It seems to be that media spends a large part of its effort getting people to the front door. Once inside in-store marketing takes over.
In the high street the rules are pretty fixed, media agencies do outside the store; marketing and sales promotion agencies generally do inside. But in the online world e-tailers are only just beginning to open their doors to advertisers. In the UK on eBay for example, over £100m worth of goods are sold every week. That’s a lot of purchases that could have been swung your brands way.
Online shopping used to be about getting a bargain, the cheapest CD player I could find. It’s not like that anymore. Trust, selection, and convenience are now just as important. Bargain has been replaced with ‘Value’ and that’s an important distinction as the breadth of goods gets ever wider. The biggest selling category online in 2009? Clothing, Shoes, and Accessories. The biggest growing sector? Groceries. Both markets where you always thought you needed to see the item. Consumers are changing.
There is a real opportunity here for brands to start looking at online shops as a place to promote their goods and services. And an opportunity for online retailers to develop new formats for advertisers.
Marketing doesn’t stop at the shop door, wherever you might find it.