Shoppers have tapped into search as their "lifeline" to research products before making a purchase in the store. Ninety-three percent of all buyers online or in stores use search prior to making a purchase, and nearly 80% rate search as a very or extremely useful tool, according to the GroupM Search study,"From Intent to In-Store: Search's Role In The New Retail Shopper Profile," released this week.
Most searches begin with generic queries rather than branded terms. In fact, 86% of searchers conduct generic queries. When consumers make multiple searches and move closer to the purchase, the topic of the search query shifts from generic to what to buy and where to buy the item. The GroupM research, conducted by Kantar Media Compete, highlights the role search plays in consumer shopping across the areas of automotive, consumer electronics and entertainment. Shoppers also show a greater tendency to click on a generic link, at a rate of 144% compared with general shoppers conducting searches in related topics, according to the research.
Marketers may need to think differently about keywords and move one step away from direct-response marketing to explore other strategies. It turns out that generic queries have value. They allow the consumer to explore other brand options. Consumers who click on generic terms are often more likely to buy than someone who does not, which challenges the perception of the worth of a generic term.
Compete's research of the Top 100 Retailers shows that 73% of referrals are from non-branded queries, according to the report. The only time this may not be entirely true is near the holidays. That changes during the holidays, when other paid media spend increases enough to push branded searches. Up to 34% of branded searches during the holidays result in consumer actions related to a brand's key performance indicator, the report states.
The report also finds that organic listings drive buyer behavior. Buyers typically click on a search engine result in the organic listing more often than a paid-search ad. Buyers click 64% of the time, broken out by 94% on organic links versus 6% paid for branded queries. The same buyers who conduct generic searches tend to click on organic links at a rate of 142%.
Search also helps consumers find stores. The locator page tends to contribute more than 5% of the traffic to the average retailer's Web site.
The report also looked at the search behavior of the shopper. The research finds that about 60% of the branded queries led to clicks, while 57% of generic searches led to a click.
I don't find any data in this study particularly earth-shattering. It simply confirms how I use search. And these days, I have been making more than 75% of my purchases online. I have lost patience with the layout of clothing and items and selection in retail physical locations. I'm not one to stand at the clothing rack and riffle through the hanging garments. I'd rather click. How about you?