Profile of an Online shopper

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Profile of an Online shopper

Sunday, 28 March 2021 | Seema Gupta

Profile of an Online shopper

Digital marketers tend to understand customers’ thought processes and motivations starting from the moment we feel the need to buy a product, writes Seema Gupta, as she delves into the psychology of shoppers and identifies the factors that influence the change

One lazy afternoon, I was scrolling through my Instagram feed when I noticed a picture of two scarves which I found very cute. It took me just a minute to order them online and only two days to receive their delivery.

Looking back at the incident, I wondered, was it impulse buying? What was the psychology that triggered my emotions? Almost 84% of all shoppers have made an impulse purchase at one point in their lives. You know the situation where you feel like, “This is made just for me! I have to have it!” But afterwards, you feel, “Why on earth did I buy this?” Stats have shown that 46% of men and 52% of women regret their impulsive purchases.

Have you ever wondered why we shoppers are compelled to make such purchases? How are these digital marketers able to influence our decision-making even without any actual contact? Why does receiving our ordered delivery feel like a gift to ourselves?

The answer to all these questions lies in the psychology of digital marketing. Digital marketers tend to understand customers’ thought processes and motivations starting from the moment we feel the need to buy a product. As the customers undergo many ups and downs in the decision-making process, marketers try to eradicate their pain points and disqualifiers to seal the deal. And we thought digital marketing is just about advertising on social media!

Our judgment and decision-making process is of two kinds. System one thinking is like an unconscious automatic mode. It guides our daily duties but is more prejudice prone. This is what is termed as the gut feeling. On the other hand, system two thinking is the slow and logical one. Usually, system one thinking is in the driving seat of decision making. That’s the reason why first impressions are so important.

As it rightfully said that you can’t grab a second chance to make the first impression. We judge the brands just by the first impressions they create on our minds. This works on the same psychology why we are more likely to pay attention to a person in formal suits than in casuals. The complete game of digital marketers depends upon their first outlook.

For instance, if you are looking for television online, and you come across two websites. You will undoubtedly go for the first one as it creates a positive aura and is pleasant to look at. Simultaneously, the second one gets rejected as a result of its faulty web page design. Experts say that colorful visuals can increase people’s willingness to read by an unbelievable 80%!

How to make them say yes

After creating a kickass impression, the marketers’ next target is to make you say yes to their services. But that’s not easy, owing to the cutthroat competition present. It takes months for them to make a customer but just a second to lose him! Therefore, digital marketers employ a wide variety of methods to capture your attention.

Suppose, you come across two offers in an online shopping center where one brand offers you a buy one get one offer on a travel bag, whereas the other brand offers you a scratch card that may get you a free vacation to Bali. There are 70% chances that you will go for the first one even though the second is more profitable. This is because the benefit is certain is the first case, and when certainty is offered, we don’t go for the risks. For the same reason we find the transition of 95% to 100% more attractive than 80% to 90%!

Another very tried and tested principle is the isolation effect, which determines that the ones which ‘stand out like a sore thumb’ are more influential and compelling. This was the reason why Nano cars could be identified from a distance! Therefore, call-to-action buttons are made to look different from the rest of the site.

The next effect is very much relatable to your lives: the cliffhanger effect or the Zeigarnik effect. It states that unfinished things create a sense of urgency and stress among us, and we have no other option but to complete it. You must have observed that all the essential information is not given at the beginning of the website. The fascinating parts are left for the last to retain the interests of the audience! Here, phrases like ‘Just one click away,’ ‘You are almost there’ etc., triggers our curiosity.

This can be very easily observed in e-reading apps where the readers get hooked to the stories. Since the following chapters have to be bought by coins, readers often spend some dollars just for a two-minute read!

These and a lot of other techniques are employed to convince the customers to say yes. As it was rightfully noted that ‘Good marketing makes the company look smart, but great marketing makes the customers feel smart!’

Online shopping is the new normal

As the past year was devoted entirely to pandemic situations, one sector has achieved great heights in digital marketing. The global digital market size reached four trillion in 2020! At present, we visit eCommerce stores more frequently than our nearby grocery stores and use e-wallets more quickly than the actual wallets. When going out becomes tough, the tough ones go for online shopping.

Today, e-commerce stores have become the permanent address of compulsive shoppers who are addicted to shopping. Gone are the days when these people were roaming around in every mall and showroom of the city. Now, the whole day they are browsing online. These are the kind of shoppers who shop unconsciously and spend too much. Then they feel guilty and to de-stress themselves; they shop again!

Targeted and sponsored ads don’t help the case either. That pretty handbag you came across last night pops up at the top of your screen like a shopping mousetrap. If you fail to resist it, one click, and you are there. Then you find a vast collection of products of your choice and end up buying two bags, three lipsticks, and a coat. Instant order placement and fast delivery raise a sense of gratification. Plus, these virtual stores never “close”!

The real craze of online shopping is witnessed in flash and festive sales. So many exciting and compelling offers make it hard to resist for all the sale shoppers. Amazon registered a whopping $600 million sale in the two days of Prime Day sale last year! Crazy right?

Another typical example from our daily lives is that of the Bargain hunters. Bargaining is like a tradition in our country. This is based on the simple idea of seller first asking for a more significant request, which by no means makes sense to us, and we refuse to pay a price that high.

After the denial, they ask for a minor request, which is what they wanted in the first place. It causes our human mind to think that they favored us by compromising, which makes us say yes. The world blindly believes in fallacies. It is just like how some people like coffee because it gives them the illusion that they might be awake.

This concept of reciprocal concessions is also portrayed in online marketing for satisfying the Bargain hunters. You must have observed that every product in Amazon or Flipkart has some initial high price which is struck off, and a lower price is mentioned to show a discount. No matter, whichever season, festival, or time it is, these eCommerce stores have at least a 50% discount on every product. How is it even possible statistically? Have you ever wondered?

Social media is not a choice; it’s a lifestyle!

Finally, one tool that has changed and possesses the power to change the fate of digital marketing is social media. Brands don’t choose whether they must do social media marketing or not; the real factor is how well they do it. The ones who ignore social media will get ignored or, more precisely, die!

A few days back, I was watching a YouTube video when I realised that all the books placed in a bookshelf in the background were tilted except one whose name was visible. I couldn’t help but wonder why. Then, on close observation, I realised that the person himself authored a particular book and highlighted it that way. Now isn’t that a great example of self-promotion?

You all must have noticed how experts answer questions in Quora by presenting their products as the best solution. A genius strategy with absolutely no expenses needed. This is also the reason why Salman Khan is always spotted adorning a “Being Human” t-shirt!

The world has seen many record-breaking social media campaigns which have skyrocketed the brands. These all had in common that they were successful in engaging the public and making them talk. The marketer can include you in their sale only if they can fit you in their tale.

One such instance was that of Spotify’s #yearwrapped. At the end of 2019, Spotify celebrated the most important musical highlights of the year through a particular webpage Spotify Wrapped which highlighted your most listened to artists, genres, songs, and other fun data discoveries. You could even view how the songs you listened to coincided with your life events that year.

Then, Spotify urged the public to share these highlights on social media, specifically Twitter and Insta Stories, tagging your favorite artist of the year. Results? Shocking, of course!

The campaign was mentioned in more than 1.2 million tweets. 60 million+ users participated in the in-app story experience. And a whopping 3 billion streams of Wrapped playlists were registered!

So now, what is the takeaway? Why did it work?

It beautifully combined two big psychological triggers: personalisation and FOMO. Firstly, it creates a personalised story for each user. Secondly, it amplified the reach of the campaign through social media. Naturally, users wanted to show off their highlights to their friends, which created greater hype for the campaign. Such a smart move to turn users into a volunteer marketing army!

There are millions of more examples where social media has played a linkage between digital marketers and us. Social media marketing is changing the digital and the real world as well, and we all are the witnesses to it.

On this note, I would like to conclude with the advice to not fall for the charms of online shopping even though they are hard to resist! After all, it’s tough to find something that’s not sold online!

The writer is an author. Her book, How People Buy Online: The Psychology Behind Consumer Behaviour, was recently published by SAGE Publications India

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