Understanding the Evolving Consumer (Part One)

Mobile, local search, search, cross-device, retargeting, digital marketing, brand marketing, online shopping, multi-channel, consumer journey,

Consumer behavior is evolving at a dizzying pace – catalyzed by the use of mobile devices. They are searching for information, products, and services relevant to their locations more than ever before. And even if their searches lead them to national brands, they still want results that are local.

That means it’s incumbent upon brand marketers to adapt their marketing efforts with “local” in mind. BIA/Kelsey expects that the number of local intent-driven searches performed on a mobile device is going to surpass those made on desktops by 2019. By then, it’s estimated that almost 142 billion searches will be on mobile, compared to 62 billion from the desktop. In other words, within just a few years, 72 percent of all local search volume will be on mobile. Marketers who not only acknowledge this trend, but also capitalize on it will likely race ahead of the competition. Keeping this in mind, here are a few trends worth noting.

Search has become a “zigzag.”

The consumer journey is no longer linear. A recent study that we did in collaboration with IDC found that consumers are “zigzaggin” between devices, platforms, and the online/offline worlds as they conduct searches. The study suggests that nearly eight out of 10 local searchers did two or more search activities before taking a specific action or making a purchase. These insights illustrate just how important it is for marketers to now allocate resources to both local and mobile search campaigns in order to capture more consumers at every stage of the purchase funnel.

App usage is on the rise.

Some consumers are bypassing the web entirely and moving the majority of their transaction to apps. This is a trend that’s likely to grow exponentially in the near future, as consumers are constantly in search of the quickest path from search to purchase. A study from comScore noted that U.S. consumers are spending the majority of their time consuming digital media within apps, with seven out of every eight minutes of media consumption happening on mobile devices.

Local search leads to buying.

In a recent study on consumer behavior, McKinsey & Company reported that the proliferation of mobile devices has put a new focus on buying local. The McKinsey report also noted that consumers are shifting a considerable amount of their spending toward online and discount channels. Smart marketers will take heed – and go where consumers are spending their time (and money). That’s why it’s even more important than ever before for all brands – especially national brands with a local footprint – to stay on top of their online presence to ensure no consumers are “lost” throughout the purchase journey.

It’s all about getting things done.

Although search allows consumers to do research on products and services, local and mobile search is really about getting tasks done, quickly and efficiently. Consumers want to be able to have a seamless research and shopping experience across desktop, mobile, and in-store. This is why multi-channel marketing and cross-device targeting have become essential tactics for any marketer looking to boost online or in-store transactions.

As consumers keep evolving, marketers must follow suit. Understanding the shifts in consumer expectations and behaviors is key for making the most of those changes. In part two of this post, we’ll explore the ways to engage the evolving consumer, with clear action steps for capitalizing on their unique searching, shopping, and spending habits.


Photo Credit: sevkabilgisayar1 via Compfight cc

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