Consumer Behavior, Data, iFocus Insights

Understanding Consumer Behavior in 2018

Illustrated graphic portraying the consumer purchase decision process online

As many of you know, the way consumers engage with mobile devices is constantly changing. As an essential part of marketing your business, you can and should take time to educate yourself about how consumers are engaging with brands so you know how to market to them throughout their digital journey.

Consumer behavior is always changing

Think of how consumers spent their time online five years ago compared to their habits today. Snapchat was uncharted territory for most people. That’s crazy to think about, isn’t it? It’s important for marketers and business owners to understand where and how consumers spend their time.

Recent numbers show that the way consumers expect brands to catch their attention and and keep them engaged – relative to particular content categories and unique device usage – is beginning to shift. Social and communication platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, Gmail, etc. dominate the field when it comes to holding consumers’ attention online. As of this time last year, consumers spent, on average, nearly 45% of their online minutes in this particular category (we did the math for you – that’s an average of just over 25 hours per month). (Source) In fact, for each day over the past year, nearly one million people started using social media for the first time. You heard us right – one million people every. single. day. That comes out to be roughly 11 new social media users every second! (Source)

Too many stats to think about? We’ve only just begun! Times are changing and it’s important to stay on top of current trends, as well as what’s to come. As technology advances, people are changing the way they interact with it. When was the last time you went a day without your kids asking to use your mobile device or tablet to play games or watch videos? Probably never, but let’s save that topic for another day.

Regardless of age, we are all aware of the exponential boom in technology, and for most of us, we want to be in the know in order to maximize our marketing dollars and ultimately grow our businesses. So what trends should you be on the lookout for this year? We’re glad you asked.

Voice-activated personal assistance is the way of the future.

What would we do without our good friends Alexa, Siri, or Google? Gone are the days of calling your mom or best friend when you needed something. We as consumers now trust and take advice from these virtual assistants. Is that crazy or awesome? You be the judge of that one.

According to Think with Google’s research, the top reasons people turn to voice-activation are as follows:

✔ You get quick answers – more so than with other types of devices
✔ You can multi-task. Who doesn’t love being able to ask Google a question while washing the dishes without having to stop what you’re doing, dry your hands, and then type it into your phone?
✔ You get answers and information in an instant – and in the age of instant gratification, this is a huge plus for voice assistants.
✔ Your device makes your daily routine easier, and even becomes a part of it.

(Source)

An image of an Amazon Echo personal voice assistant on a kitchen counter

We understand that time is valuable (time is money, right?), so we can see why this growing technology could be one of our most reliable online resources for years to come. According to comScore, 50% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020. (Source) Many of us use voice assistants for quick tasks such as getting directions or scheduling appointments, but we can certainly anticipate a huge uptick in use of these devices as society becomes increasingly on the move – a trend we’re already seeing.

Have you ever noticed that our basic search queries are now becoming more personal and specifically relevant to our needs? We can thank voice-activated devices for this. Think of the way you search for phrases when typing, versus phrases you search for when speaking. You don’t say, “Alexa, best universities;” you say, “Alexa, what are the top-ranked universities in America?” Similarly, you don’t verbally ask Google what car brands are safest by saying, “Google, safe car brands” – you ask, “Hey Google, which car brands are the safest?” This is definitely an important factor to keep in mind when planning for any sort of search marketing (think SEO, paid search, etc.).

Consumers are growing more and more at ease with technology, seeking advice on a regular basis, asking it to give us answers to our personal questions, and relying on it as a trusted source and friend. It’s all the goodness of a personal assistant, sans the hourly pay.

Consumers want to experience a brand, product, or service before they buy.

Consumers want more than engagement these days. They want an experience, especially when it comes to products they are interested in. Essentially, consumers are going beyond third-party review sites and word-of-mouth referrals, looking more and more to immersive marketing tactics, such as video content, to learn all about the products they’re considering. In fact, in a recent report, over 72% of consumers surveyed said they prefer video over any other medium to learn more about a product they’re interested in. (Source)

Now that we know why video advertising is now a household marketing staple, don’t forget to stick with the basics. A relationship with a brand is like any other relationship – for it to work out, you must understand what people need and what makes them happy. Building trust and creating positive experiences will only get you that much closer to your end goal.

Consumers are more curious and demanding for receiving relevant information quickly.

Long-tail search term variations will expand, creating as a result what TopRank Marketing likes to call, “best-answer content,” which encompasses the following traits:

– It speaks to a particular audience – don’t lump all of your consumers together.
– It focuses on a specific search query – answer the question at hand, rather than taking consumers to a landing page with broad content.
– It should be hearty. This isn’t the appetizer for consumers – they want the meat and potatoes, and they want it now.
– It’s all-encompassing and addresses related search queries and includes cross-links
– It doesn’t sound “salesy.” Consumers want information, not ads.

(Source)

Personalization will be key for meeting consumer demand and expectations. Developing a greater understanding of consumer journeys, behavior, and app preferences will equip brands with the insights they need to build the products and experiences that match consumer demands. Recently, 81% of consumers reported a greater desire for brands to take the time to get to know them better and understand when they want certain types of information (and, conversely, when they don’t). (Source) Who can disagree with that? Nobody wants to be hounded with products that are not for them, but it happens every day.

Understanding these behaviors up front and providing results to the right audience in a timely manner is only going to make you stand out and ultimately become the trusted source moving forward.

A young woman looking at her smartphone on the go in a large city

Mobile technology will continue to make huge gains.

What would you do without your mobile device for a day?

Whoa, take a deep breath! That moment is over. We’re all aware of what our devices can do and how much we depend on them. Mobile has completely taken over and a shopper’s entire journey can begin and end on their phone.

Think about how often we pick up our phone to shop, research, look at reviews, get advice from others, and so on and so forth. Mobile is the leading device and it’s not going anywhere any time soon – this we already know. So what are the top things we can expect from mobile in 2018? Let’s take a look.

The Internet of Things

What is it? loT is a system of interconnected devices, machines, appliances, sensors, etc. that are equipped with unique identifiers and the ability to transfer data over a network without the necessity of human interaction. In other words, IoT allows for greater communication and connectivity between your entire personal technological network. A good way to think of this is with a tech-savvy home. You can now automate and connect certain devices, such as home security systems, washers and dryers, HVAC systems, and even coffee makers, to your phone. So, if you forget to close the garage door when you leave, no problem! You can close it from your phone. Gone for vacation but forgot to turn your A/C up? With IoT, this becomes a non-issue.

IoT apps have been on the rise, and it’s expected that in the next seven years, the number of loT-connected devices will quickly approach 75 billion devices worldwide. (Source) These apps will allow you to monitor readings of devices and sensors, analyze data, manage devices (smart home appliances, wearables), and much more.

An illustration demonstrating the Internet of Things

Mobile Payments

With online shopping among the top trends in mobile technology, Google Wallet, Apple Pay, and other payment apps are boosting mobile commerce. With that, online stores will be updating their applications in order to increase sales.

Augmented Reality

We’ve seen this in the gaming app industry, but other applications will be using augmented reality for more practical purposes like navigation, interior design, user manuals, and more. Expect to see every new Android smartphone AR-enabled by the end of this year.

So what does all of this mean for you, the business person, who wants to get and stay ahead of the game? Come chat with us! Our team of experts can provide you with a comprehensive digital marketing strategy tailored to your business to make sure you are not left behind in this fast-growing, high-tech world.

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