MUCH OF THE WORLD now revolves around a combination of offline and online action. Of course, that includes consumer behavior, something brands seem to be baffled by, according to a recent forum organized by Ogilvy at Discovery Primea in Makati City.

At the forum, “How Today’s Business Can Win Throughout the Shoppers’ Journey,” Gareth Ellen, regional planning director of marketing agency Geometry Global Asia Pacific highlighted five lessons about “the connected shopper” that brands should take into account.

First, shoppers are using digital technology to improve their shopping experience: finding the best price, being able to return the product when they find it unsatisfying, and solving brand-related or product-related complaints, among other things — all the while confident that the brand will respect the consumer’s privacy and personal information.


The second is, “shoppers combine online and offline in a completely natural way”. Users typically use a combination of online and offline research “seamlessly” when searching for a brand or a product.

This leads to the third point: “endorsers are very powerful,” as recommendations from friends and family, online reviews, and in-store opinions help consumers decide whether they are going to make a purchase. Thus, mobile devices are “the best shopping assistant,” as it can almost instantly check and compare prices, availability, and product information.

“[Finally], they may shop with the price in mind, but really, they stay for service,” Mr. Ellen said, as the experience plays a major part in having return customers.

“One simple truth, though — with all these technology and with all these access we have and things we could be paying attention to as brand marketers, the reality is, still it’s shoppers shopping,” he said.

“The access one might have to stores and to brands may be different but the behavior is the same; it’s just faster and easier,” he added.

Mr. Ellen cited American cosmetic company CoverGirl. The brand “invests a huge amount of money in above-the-line advertising (using mass media), especially when it comes to celebrity endorsers including singers Pink and Katy Perry.

“The brief is very simple: ‘how do we convert this investment into shopper actions?’ The challenge however… [cosmetics] is a very hard category to shop,” he said.

He explained that the connection between shopper and the brand was made by helping said shopper to get the looks the brand is promoting in magazines and TV commercials, all the while trying not to make the consumer look at and buy the other brands because of the glut in choices.

“The shopper solution is actually helping her pre-store,” he said. CoverGirl has a dedicated Web site called the Fab Lab, where users can upload a photo of themselves and digitally try on the products to see if it fits them. By using a mobile device, they can track their virtual basket and easily look for the product they have “tried on.”

“It’s something that can easily be done using an e-commerce perspective but, in this case, [the consumer] needs to complete the experience in-store,” Mr. Ellen said, as actually trying on the product before buying it is key for this kind of brand.

Thus, the importance of digital is that it “extends shopper marketing beyond the store”, and the challenge is how to “digitize that one-one experience” one might have in-store. Brands must thus take a “holistic view” of the shopper journey  and gain deeper shopper insight for the brand’s objective and integrate digital and shopper marketing. — Zsarlene B. Chua