While still small in terms of percentages, digital is emerging as a growing channel in FMCG. For example, a recent eMarketer article reported that grocery is now Amazon’s fastest growing category. Brands are struggling to make sense of the similarities, differences and gaps in the ways consumers buy their products in digital versus brick and mortar retail, and they know they need to succeed in this new frontier.
PRS IN VIVO has been helping companies and brands engineer their presence in the traditional brick and mortar retail environment for decades, and now there is an opportunity for brands to do the same in the e-commerce realm, which has still not adapted to be optimal when shopping for FMCG products. We believe that the best guidelines for winning in Digital Grocery come when you apply a behavioral lens to how consumers choose and buy your products.
Physical shopping is driven by quick, automatic, and intuitive “System 1” thinking while e-commerce is often designed for rational and deliberate “System 2” thinking. This gap represents a threat for brands as shoppers may have a user experience that can result in “list shopping”, auto replenishment and the reduction of impulse buying – and in the end, erosion of profitability for these brands.
However, this gap also provides opportunities. PRS IN VIVO’s extensive research, in both physical and online retail environments, provides key behavioral insights that can help brands win. Here are just three:
1. Unconscious behavior favors attention to the image
When shopping on a computer or mobile, the shoppers’ attention is primarily focused on images, usually a pack thumbnail on the search results page. Furthermore, shoppers tend to scan pages in a consistent manner: if there is one image on the left and text on the right, their attention will focus on the image. If there are multiple columns with images, shoppers will focus towards the middle. In general, most shoppers focus on the top few rows.
Tools like PRS IN VIVO’s Mobile Eye-Tracking can help brands uncover how shoppers view the category and the product pages in which a brand appears, helping brands determine how to drive higher engagement with the product images and key messages.
2. Consumers are susceptible to social influences of reviews
E-commerce contributes an influence in choice that is not present in the brick and mortar retail setting: immediate access to consumer reviews. We know from behavioral science that humans are highly susceptible to the “social” impact of others’ choices. After scrolling through the images on the digital shelf, our research shows that shoppers tend to jump to the comments or reviews, often seeking out the negative ones mainly. This closely follows the Behavioral Economics principle of Loss Aversion, which basically means that we are more sensitive to a potential loss than to an equivalent gain. We react more to what is framed negatively than what is positive. AND we are very influenced by what we see others do.
At PRS IN VIVO, our Drivers of Influence can help you understand the “whys” behind shoppers’ behaviors that impact online in contrast to instore choice.
3. Simplified pack images need to connect at a System 1 level
Some packaging images are not ideal in an e-commerce context when they are shown at a thumbnail scale, especially on mobile. Pack simplification (or Mobile Ready Hero Images) can provide some advantages, if they convey the key brand assets in a way that affects System 1 influencers. Most approaches to “hero images” focus solely on product findability designed to facilitate replenishment.
However, especially for emerging consumer brands new to a category, more visceral approaches have shown promise in helping brands differentiate and convey imagery. For example, when showing a splashing graphic behind an image of a can of soda creates a personal connection to how the product is consumed, which helps to strengthen taste appeal and drive consumer choice.
PRS IN VIVO’s behavioral e-commerce web explorations, for both computer and mobile, explore different executions of pack images to better understand which is the most effective at connecting with consumers, at getting the brand’s messaging across, and at driving sales. Our mock websites can also be utilized to explore different, unique shopping contexts such as grid layouts and call-outs on the pack to help you understand what truly influences behavior.
In conclusion, what influences shoppers’ attention and focus may be different in a physical versus digital shopping environment, but applied behavioral science can help you win in an omni-channel retail world. To learn more about our behavioral e-commerce research capabilities, and our Drivers of Influence, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ruben Nazario is a passionate and highly motivated marketing research professional with an aptitude for turning consumer data into actionable insights to help drive brand results. He has been with PRS IN VIVO since 2010. Ruben currently leads a quantitative research team that works on various domestic and global initiatives for several brands across different product categories. He is also an omni-channel consumer, embracing both physical and digital shopping experiences. Follow him on Twitter @RubenDNazario.
Ruben will be speaking with PRS IN VIVO's Chief Revenue Officer, Alex Hunt at the Online & Digital Grocery Summit on October 18 in Chicago, IL about "Attracting the Millenial OmniShopper: Applying Behavioral Science to Attract a New Generation". Learn more here.