Consumer behavior has shifted in the last decade
In 2003, people were already shopping online and walking around with sell phones, but in the last decade, technologies have sped up e-commerce, showrooming (comparison shopping on a smartphone while inside of a store), but more importantly, expectations on actual products and services have changed. Consumer behavior has shifted, and it is not all due to technology.
Ortiz Industry CEO, Claire Ortiz is well known in the apparel industry, and is an entrepreneur who has worked her way up the ranks from designer to Global Business Director at companies such as Esprit, Brand Jordan and Nike, as well as owning and selling a few of her own successful businesses along the way. In addition, Ortiz has advised some of world’s most advanced research and development teams, working to help push their product beyond what was considered possible.
For over 25 years, Ortiz has been involved in shaping retail, and notes that there are five specific ways consumer shopping habits have changed in the last decade.
1. Consumers expect more
Ortiz notes, “Consumers expect more from products they purchase; multi-functional, multi-use, long lasting, etc.”
While some of this is likely due in part to the economic crash our nation has been dealt with, we suspect there are two other reasons. First and most obvious is that improvements in technologies have allowed retailers to produce more durable products, but secondly, it has become popular, especially with Millennials, to be more minimalist and consume less, so what is consumed tends to be durable goods.
2. Rise of the research addiction
“Internet/ Online shopping, including blogs, etc. have created a ‘research junkie’ consumer,” Ortiz opines. “Consumers now want to research before purchasing to find best deals, reviews, features/benefits, comparisons, and so on.”
The web has revealed in the last decade that there is always a chance of a better deal, or a coupon online, so our culture now flocks to their smartphone before jumping in a checkout aisle, so we can all make sure we’re getting the best deal. But it’s not just deals consumers are looking for, it’s competitors – are they getting the best product? Smartphone technologies have played the biggest role not only in consumers shifting into an eternal research mode, but companies learning to be ahead of the curve by meeting them where they are shopping online as well.
3. Consumers are smarter
Ortiz stated, “Consumers are simply smarter today than they were 10 years ago based on the information at hand.”
Because of the research addiction in our culture, consumers are more educated, making it more challenging for brands as promises of being the best are no longer simply believed – shoppers want proof. A large driving force in this trend is review sites and social media – consumers can tap into a vast amount of information that either validates their choices or invalidates them, and research shows that people increasingly value the opinion of strangers rating products and services online as much as they value the opinion of friends or family.
4. A global culture
Bringing up an interesting and often overlooked point, Ortiz said, “Globalization of brands has created a homogenized global culture versus 10 years ago. Availability of virtually anything anywhere has caused a watering down of trends, specialization, and uniqueness. Thus consumers are now going to revert to ‘local for local’ shopping (future trend in retail and on line).”
Most people would think that globalization would kill local businesses, but Ortiz proclaims the opposite, as our culture craves being unique, therefore is looking to their local products and services to set them apart.
5. A surprising reason technology has risen
“Technology is necessary and expected, especially by Gen Y,” Ortiz notes. “Consumers want products that add value in some way to their lives.”
As noted, Ortiz taps into a sentiment that people frequently misunderstand – technology, especially by younger generations that grew up with smartphones, is not just a research tool, it is something that they are seeking to add meaning to their lives. It’s not just coupon hunting they want; philanthropy is thriving in America and apps are popping up every day to help people understand the world around them better.
We all know that smartphones have changed the world, but Ortiz outlines some of the nuance as to how and why. Local businesses aren’t in trouble as the world becomes louder, more globalized, and more technologically advanced, they stand apart, which is great news for entrepreneurs.