It's official. We're hot into the Christmas shopping season. (christmas shopping is a season? who said that?) Let's look at some options for those of us who are deep into the online experience - notice I said "experience" - that's because you MUST provide an exeperiece to your customers, not just a shopping list, or a 'click here' for more options.
It's interesting to me that shopping online has taken on all the aspects of a jaunt to the mall. At least for the ladies. We want more than a catalog of products, with teeny-tiny pictures that leave out the details. We want the clerk, yes, I said we want the clerk, invisible, though - to explain the details of the item we're giving the squinty-eyed look at.
For instance, I'm over at Smart Bargains (having arrived there when Amazon.com did NOT have what I wanted), and feeling as if I'm standing out in the cold, gazing through the shop window, into a darkend room where there might be people scurrying around in the shadows. I don't hear any music. I don't see any lights. I only see row after row of product, with one-line descriptions that tell me nothing.
I am not being acknowledged at all. <sigh> It isn't that I want Smart Bargains to address me with glee, "Oh, Mrs. DiVita, so happy to see you. How may we help you?" At this point they don't know me from the lamp post. A simple, "Welcome to Smart Bargains. We have dozens of new items in our directory, and hundreds of favorites. How may we help you in your search for the perfect gift?" Then, a little drop down box of options: visit certain sections of the store, ask a question, show the newest items in the directory, connect with a real person. How about that? Before I waste my time clicking around trying to decipher their navigation scheme.
Well, that's not what I got. Oh well. Yes, they had a search box at the top of the page. Yes, I'm used to that so I did a search and I was rewarded with some options that were appropriate. But, I wasn't "feeling" it. I wasn't "engaged." I was left cold, unconnected, and wishing I had time to go elsewhere at that moment. I did not have time. So, I captured the item's number and emailed it to the person I wanted to show it to. But, I won't go back to Smart Bargains to buy it. Sorry. I'm going to find a friendly site.
Now, let's look at some stats coming out of Big Research, on how people buy. Then, we'll look at some interesting stats on how women buy.
BIG Research says: A Visit from the Stork, a Trip Down the Aisle and Other Life Events Prompt Consumer Purchases. Like this is news. <ho-hum> Let's look at the details, though, and see if they help uncover more relevant content for us.
The Top 5 Life Events, which trigger spending, according to a "Simultaneous Media Survey (SIMM III) of over 15,000 consumers 18 years or older, are...
- Children Starting College
- Getting divorced/separated
- Getting married
- Expecting a baby
As you would expect, spending revolves around such items as furniture, home improvement, vacations, electronics, vehicles, home appliances, digital cameras...all the same things we buy every day for one reason or another.
The tell-tale trigger - which is mentioned in this report, and the next one I'm going to cite, is the all powerful word of mouth. (are you listening, Andy?) According to the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, noted in another BIG Research press release, "Product Reviews, Word of Mouth and Newspaper Inserts Influence Holiday Shoppers." Here's the low-down on that:
Word of mouth is a key driver of electronics purchases, as 41.0 percent of shoppers said they were most influenced by what other people told them regarding these products and consumers are not only considering opinions of their friends and family, but also the thoughts of complete strangers through online product reviews.
The survey also showed that consumers were heavily influenced by word of mouth when it came to apparel purchases (31.4%), though newspaper inserts (27.8%), direct mail (21.9%), and coupons (20.7%) also persuaded shoppers’ apparel purchases.
Okay...so now we know (as if we didn't before) that spending is triggered by life events. And, that word of mouth is powerful. But, traditional advertising still works, too.
How about this news, out of leading global PR firm, Ketchum: "What Sway's Women's Buying Decisions? Credible Opinions From Friend, Family." Here's the low-down on that,
Ninety-one percent of women surveyed say friends and family give "very"
or "somewhat" credible information in advising them on buying decisions for
consumer-packaged goods, consumer electronics or food. This finding can
prove critical to marketers eager to determine what influences women ages
25-54, the key decision-makers in the family, despite being pressed for
And, "Before women go shopping, they go CROPing, looking for CRedible
OPinions," maintains Kelley Skoloda, Partner and Director of Ketchum's
Global Brand Marketing Practice. "They trim research time by consulting a
few close friends and family members, as well as experts, local news and
All of which is marvelous fodder for you - to review and contemplate and consider when you're revising your Christmas shopping campaigns to market to the women who shop at your site. Just remember, if you don't give us an experience, we're not going to spread word of mouth...so, local news ads, or magazines, or newspapers that pull us in - will fail to convince us to buy. Word of mouth will steer us elsewhere...in the end.
Whom have you made friends with today? Don't forget - Dickless Marketing says, "Making friends with women will make you sales." Female-friendly is what it's all about.