Today’s shoppers exhibit a “high/low” mindset when it comes to technology, says Horizon Media's Kirk Olson. They want brands to anticipate every need, make hyper-relevant offers in real time, and deliver in an instant. At the same time, these same shoppers express interest or demand a low-tech experience.
Some retailers and marketers will pick a lane, others will merge the two. Either way, a deep understanding of this bi-directional future is a must.
At the OmniShopper Conference in Chicago earlier this month, Horizon’s TrendSight expert Olson outlined seven shopper “macro trends” based on the agency’s research that are likely to impact retailers and brands in the near future, including: “Help Me to Live Better;” “Make it Immediate;” “Busy Life;” “Authentic Experience;” “Back in Time;” “Find Me the Perfect Match,” and “Tell Me a Story.”
According the Olson the trends show marketers that the future is about people not technology and that low tech has proven to engage the consumer on a deeper level. “Therefore we must find a balance between the two,” he says.
Marketers need to lead the way in adopting these macro trends. Shoppers are notoriously bad at predicting their future behaviors. "They contradict themselves," says Olson. For instance, three in four (72%) are concerned about their privacy when it comes to beacons, yet 60% are willing to share their physical locations with beacons in order to receive deals and discounts.
Many of these trends, in fact, contradict themselves. For instance, the “now-itis” macro trend driving people to expect that everything happens in an instant or else they lose patience bumps up against “Back In Time,” where people seek old-fashion or low-tech experiences. Six in 10 people say when they want to watch a movie they expect to access it immediately, illustrating their desire for cutting-edge technology. Two in three Millennials say they use social feeds to avoid boredom. This need for constant distraction has fueled the popularity of blogs and mobile games. Some 70% of Buzzfeed's traffic comes from mobile phones and within one year, the recipe site Tasty has grown to include more than 50 million fans and 8 billion views.
However, 67% say high tech shopping is overrated and 59% would like to lock their smartphone if there wasn't any negative impact.
That said, technology is frequently the key to the “Help Me To Live Better” trend. Shoppers turn to "science fixes" that enable and empower them to be healthier and happier. Haptic shoes, for instance, align with smartphones via a sensor in the shoe to provide directions. And “Find Me The Perfect Match” is about how the overwhelming choices in the marketplace have consumers seeking brands that make discovery easier. TiVo, to that end, lets users say an actor's name and lists every available show or series.
One of the more emergent trends involves brands telling their backstory. People seek companies that are honest, open and kind, says Olson. New York retailer TicTail, for instance, provides cards with the history of the person behind the products. Online retailer Everlane is bringing the "farm to table" concept to the fashion world by documenting every step the clothing item makes before it reaches the consumer.
Consumers increasingly want to hear the stories, says Olson. Brands can easily incorporate this desire into their strategies without too much cost or trouble.
Ultimately, the key takeaway for marketers and brands is to remember that technology is designed to serve people and empower them. Technology simply for technology’s sake is not an effective tactic that appeals to today's savvy shopper.