The consumer decision journey has evolved from the early days of brand building. Today, most purchase journeys in consumer durable and computing devices category begin when customers want to upgrade their existing product or buy an additional unit, not as a replacement. The purchase journey is becoming more complex with multiple action points under four phases: initial consideration, active evaluation, final purchasing stage and post-purchase experience.
Evolving purchase triggers
The initial trigger of needs and aspirations in the product purchase cycle is changing rapidly. With mobile device quickly becoming the most important shopping & payment tool, purchase triggers for hyper connected consumers have diversified. As per GfK Consumer Insights Engine, 21% of Indians have shown greater propensity in buying a newer or better product even before the existing one becomes obsolete.
Interestingly, sporting events is one of the key purchase triggers for TV category, particularly cricket as game watching is an experience. When compared with last two editions of cricket World Cup, TV market grew 3x in 2011 and 2x in 2015 of the annual average growth. This year, sales volume for 32inch and bigger screen TV in offline and online channels has grown by 12% and 70% respectively until May 2019 versus 2018. Consumers are also consistently upgrading to larger screen-size TVs with high tech features as it offers value for money; for 43+ inch TV screen size, offline channel sales contribution stood at 7% as compared to 15% for online channel during the time period of Jan – April 2019. Smart TV registered 38% growth in offline and 164% online channel, whereas UHD TV secured 85% growth in offline and 116% in online channel for Jan-April 2019 over 2018. This is a clear reflection of changing consumer demand and preferences in the television market.
First-time buyers to govern demand-supply dynamics
With significant rise in disposable income and middle class aspirational spending, it is exciting to note that the first time purchasers are spending more on products like microwave (48%), laptop (39%) and tablet (42%). This emerging category of customers is not only a reflection of evolving lifestyles and preferences but the deepening penetration of consumer durables and computing devices category beyond metros.
Multi-channel research shoppers
With swift progressions in technology, social & digital media has changed the way how consumers shop and behave. While in-store purchase journey is governed by overall consumer experience, online purchase journey depends solely on research. 69% of Indian consumers begin their purchase journey with search engines to gather knowledge about the products. More than half (55%) of the consumers refer to the product review and price comparison sites (51%).
Majority of consumers who visit the eCommerce websites also refer to the manufacturers’ website for further details and price comparison. While doing an online research, chances of shoppers buying a particular brand increase substantially if they visit the manufacturer website. Contrary to this, offline purchase triggers involve emotions such as trust, instant gratification, value and time.
Experiental retail matters
During the evaluation process, 39% of buyers use both online and offline research channels and 42% of buyers visit a physical store to research prior to purchasing. Of those who research for options in-store, a whopping 82% go on to make the purchase. GfK findings also reveal that 13% of those who research various options online also eventually make the final purchase in-store.
Clearly, even in today’s digital world, the in-store experience plays a vital role in decision making. In India, one-third of all offline sales are through key retailers as 35% of consumers spend more than 30 mins – 1 hour at the retail store during the purchase journey. Investing in targeted consumers is therefore critical for marketing and in-store activation to drive sales.activation to drive sales.
Key purchase driver for Indians is not the price
It is important to truly understand all the factors that influence consumers’ final decision at the moment of purchase. It’s a common belief that there is only one thing that can move the Indian consumer to buy i.e. Price. Well, this belief is only partly true. Although price is an important consideration but what catches the attention is Value. Indian consumers are ‘value conscious’ and when compared to other Asian markets, Indians hold the highest regard for the product’s features and brand quality by 64% and 55%, respectively, during the final purchase stage.
Brands can have the best technology in the world, but if the consumer does not embrace it or see the value, the product will not witness commercial success.
Growing competition, shrinking brand loyalty
Amidst growing competition, the buyers have more options to explore before making the final purchase resulting in reduced brand loyalty. Major tech and durable purchases no longer necessarily have a long lifespan in the Indian consumer’s home. There is now a growing segment of consumers who replace products in less than two years, especially microwave (16%) and laptop (26%). For building loyal customer base, brands need to focus on these growing product segments whose replacement cycle is fastest and where consumers are early adopters.
Step it up with AI
A lot of customer engagement strategies in future will primarily be driven by data analytics offering deep-dive insights. Serving this purpose, artificial intelligence will help brands to formulate the product promotions strategy through prescriptive analysis. Therefore, brands need a more granular view of the consumer behavior during the purchase cycle providing visibility of device use, search terms, touch points, sites visited and more for inclusive business growth.