A Brief Recap: Previously in part one, we discussed two important consumer trends that marketers should focus on in 2012, i.e. the growing use of mobile devices and smartphones by the social consumer and the importance of user-generated content. Our research shows that there are two more key consumer trends that brands need to keep in mind while designing their social media marketing strategies for 2012; the social consumer's quest for discounts and bargains and one demographic that is expected to drive the most e-commerce spending, women.
Women to Drive More E-Commerce Spending
While brands have always understood the importance of the female demographic (Read our previous blog on 'The Importance of Marketing to Women Online' for more), recent studies indicate that women will soon overtake men as far as being social media-savvy, staying connected and shopping online are considered. According to recent research by Zmags, today's new connected customer is a '40 something woman (mean age), with a mean household income of $63,000, is super-social, and carries multiple internet connected devices, besides owning a PC or laptop. This means, brands and online marketers can expect to see more of this demographic researching their products, exchanging reviews and clicking on the 'buy now' option on their websites and social media pages.
- 40 Something Female Shoppers? While the popular assumption is that the average connected customers are millennials, recent studies indicate otherwise. There are several factors that support ZMags' study: a) women in this age bracket are better financially empowered than their younger counterparts, who have either just started their careers or have personal financial commitments b) less impulsive and more interested in comparing prices and exchanging opinions, the '40 something female customer is likely to invest more time in researching products before actually buying them online c) going by Microsoft Tag's 2011 study, women in the 35-54 (approximate) age bracket are most active in group mobile socialization; which means, the likelihood of this demographic exchanging information, comparing prices or simply checking out a new product online is high.
- No More Gender Stereotypes: While apparel and cosmetics will continue to be the top category for female shoppers, the stereotypical divide that dictates what men are most likely to buy and what women will look for online has blurred over the last few years. Traditionally male-dominated categories such as cars and electronics have seen a rapid increase in female customers in recent times. With the '40 something woman changing her role from that of a homemaker to a buyer of luxury products and gadgets, going forward, brands will need to keep this affluent, social-savvy demographic in mind while designing their marketing messages.
Bargain Hunting Here to Stay
With daily-deal spending expected to reach 1.7 billion in 2012(U.S Gross revenues) and 3.9 billion in 2015, it is safe to assume that bargain hunting is here to stay. Considering the fact that deals and special offers are among the top reasons why consumers check out a retailer's social media page or website, this is one crucial area where online retailers must continue to focus on. Let us examine some of the consumer key trends in this space:
- Daily Deal Sites: With daily deal sites like Groupon and LivingSocial gaining momentum last year, we expect to see more of the coupon collector crowd throng these sites in 2012 as well. For retailers and brands, this could be the best opportunity to market those slow-moving products and give their sales charts a shot-in-the-arm.
- The Motives of Coupons Collectors Will Change: Although shoppers will still seek out coupons to save money, coupon hunting, especially over the last few months, has become more of a sport. Trendwatching notes that the motives of coupon collectors are changing, with shoppers using deal aggregators like Groupon for "the thrill, the pursuit, the control, the perceived smartness, and thus a sense of status, too." With bargain hunting set to be a status symbol, the pressure on retailers and brands to offer more discounts, deals and offers will increase.
- Facebook Coupons and Special Offers: With the bargain hunters looking for the best deals and offers on daily deal sites, it was not surprising to see Facebook entering this space as well. Facebook will soon approach the 1 billion milestone; and if the social networking giant's decision to test out Coupon Posts and Ads on a select group of existing advertisers works, then we can expect to see a) increased engagement between brands and their consumers and b) a substantial rise in users who want to check out what brands have to offer on their Facebook pages. Several retailers are already ahead of the game and have welcomed the New Year by offering discounts and deals on various products on their Facebook pages.
If 2011 saw the strengthening of the brand-customer relationship, 2012 is expected to be the year when this relationship is taken to the next level. Our research highlights four key consumer trends that online marketers will need to focus on in 2012; one of these will be the increased use of mobile internet for everything from browsing social media sites to downloading coupons and shopping for products. With mobile internet usage expected to overtake PCs and laptops in the next few months, retailers and online marketers can expect to see an increase in 'consumers-on-the-go'. Meanwhile, recent studies have established that the social consumer no longer wants to be at the receiving end of marketing messages. In 2011, we saw consumers interact and engage with brands for customer support, to post queries and make their opinions heard. In 2012, consumers will redefine this 'engagement' by significantly contributing to marketing content.
The e-commerce space, in 2012, is expected to have a large number of active female customers, specifically the '40 something age bracket. With women in this age group better economically empowered, less tied down by personal and financial constraints and more tech-savvy than before, brands need to design their marketing messages keeping this demographic in mind. One key consumer trend that has been consistent over the years is the bargain hunting phenomenon. While coupon collectors and bargain hunters show no signs of slowing down, the reasons why they throng daily deal sites are gradually changing. Unlike before, when the quest for coupons and discounts was motivated by the need to save money, today's social consumers consider bargain hunting to be more of a status symbol.
The dynamism of the social media landscape and the constantly changing tastes of the social consumer indicate that brands have to be on their toes all the time. While marketers are unsure about what to expect from their consumers, the trends discussed above attempt to provide a glimpse into the mindset of the social consumer, helping brands better design campaigns and create marketing messages with more confidence than before.