The New Local Battleground: Shopper Marketing and the “Zigzagging” Consumer

The New Local Battleground: Shopper Marketing and the "Zigzagging" Consumer

A newfound focus on shopper marketing is starting to have a fairly significant influence on consumer purchasing habits today. Add to that the rise of mobile technologies truly revolutionizing in-store experiences, and we’re seeing how this new kind of localization is making more and more of an impact on how consumers make on-the-spot purchase decisions.

This is fertile ground for national brands seeking to reach and engage local consumers in relevant, home-grown ways. According to M/A/R/C Research and the Google Shopper Marketing Agency Council, 84% of consumers are regularly use their smartphones to aid in making in-store purchases.

Shoppers are absorbing messages from all angles – not just what’s physically in front of them. In fact, when they are trying to decide between one brand over another for a particular product or service, who do you think they’ll trust more to help them determine what’s best for them: the in-store customer service representative or online actual user reviews? (This may be just a hunch, but it’s highly likely that they’ll reach for their mobile device before they even take the time to hunt down a sales rep.)

It almost goes without saying that shoppers are a captive audience for marketing messages. Layer on both the insights we’re able to glean from customer loyalty programs as well as the wealth of shopper data we now have at our fingertips, for national brands to not seize the opportunity to surprise and delight their current or potential customers – especially in the heat of the moment, when they are deciding between “Brand A” or “Brand B” – would be simply unthinkable.

The promise of beacons and other targeting technologies
Beacons make it possible for marketers to send unique and relevant messages to the mobile devices of their targeted potential customers – whether they’re miles away from your store, right in front of your store, or within certain sections of your store.

Simply stated, beacons are Bluetooth-enabled devices that can conceivably interact, by way of emitting messages to opted-in mobile devices, with anyone within its “geo-fenced” range. In other words, in an in-store environment, beacons can make it possible for marketers to reach and capture the attention of shoppers while they’re shopping.

Although this is still quite a nascent technology, the opportunity to create deeper, more relevant, and more in-the-moment communications with customers is the ultimate promise of this technology. One key benefit: it will give national brands a new way to nurture local audiences with a fairly high degree of precision.

But that’s only one (small) part of the local equation. Reaching your target consumers throughout their buying journey is a critical objective for brand marketers. This is why location-based mobile targeting solutions – including those that don’t rely solely on beacons –are important to understand and consider when planning and deploying mobile marketing campaigns. Doing so helps your brand create a  “surround sound” shopper experience well before and after they ever step foot into a store.

Locking down “zigzagging” consumers
The consumer path to purchase has drastically changed as new technologies and platforms have come to market. Given that nearly everyone (perhaps a slight exaggeration – but you get the point) carries a smartphone these days in addition to a laptop, a tablet, a wearable, and so on means that there is no longer a single entry- and end-point in the shopper journey. People now have access to information via all the resources available to them, whether online or offline.

YP℠ recently conducted a research study with IDC to better understand what they call the“zigzagging” customer journey. What they found was that consumers “zigzag” across a variety of devices, platforms, and communications channels as they make decisions about products and services they are considering to purchase.

A few stats stand out. First off, the study showed that 47% of consumers surveyed are oftentimes searching for local store and production information via their mobile devices when they’re on the go – with most local searches (63%) completed within one hour. 73% of consumers surveyed even said that when doing a local search, they are regularly on the hunt for coupons or deals (beacons will definitely come in handy here!).

What this should make apparent to brands, both big and small, is that this evolution towards “zigzagging” behavior means that we not only need to think like our target consumers, but we also need to act like them, too – engaging them in the moments when they are moving fast and furiously down the purchase funnel. Simply stated, what this research tells us is that, as brands, we need to “zigzag” alongside our customers in order to keep up.

The new local battleground?
What we’re seeing today in the shopper marketing space is essentially what happens when technological innovation changes, influences, impacts, and shapes consumer behaviors. It shouldn’t be new news to anyone that there is massive opportunity involved in reaching and engaging consumers when they are in an active purchase mode. Whether it’s through beacons, via location-based mobile targeting solutions, by mapping marketing efforts to the perpetually “zigzagging” consumer, or simply making a point to create a more cohesive online and offline brand experience for your customers overall – it should be pretty obvious that there is a new local battleground that’s ripe for the taking.

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