The shopper’s path to purchase has been dramatically rerouted, with most shoppers using digital as their guide. Instead of communications from a brand or retailer, shoppers look to friends, family, peers and strangers for information, advice and opinions before, during and after they shop.
In the new “online all the time” paradigm, 69% of the U.S. population shopped online in 2015, and over half read online reviews before clicking the “buy” button. Over 76% of consumers interact with brands or products before they arrive at the store and 67% of shoppers read product reviews while in the store. Mobile alone influences one-third of in-store sales (that’s up 460% in 2 years). This year, Deloitte is projecting that 80% of retail sales will be influenced by digital and mobile – growing (up from 64% in 2015).
Digitally-Influenced Decisions Are Re-Shaping Retail
Over the last 5 years, the top 25 established retailers have lost 2% of their combined market share ($64 billion), while smaller players that have entered the market with digital at their core have multiplied. Digital has become “the great equalizer.” Deloitte’s study concludes that the impact of digital on the retail industry has been underestimated — there’s no offline anymore, and retailers are losing ground to their nontraditional competitors by not focusing on digitally influenced decisions earlier in the process.
“The digitally-enabled path to purchase is truly not just about the ‘buy’ button anymore…Retailers need to prioritize the creation and curation of more authentic messages that speak directly to the category shopper and evolve from the promotional, traffic-focused approach.”
“Only 30% of consumers are getting their inspiration from a retailer or brand’s advertisement or communication… 70% of shoppers are leading their own shopping journey. They no longer turn to retailers or brand advertisements for inspiration. Instead, they look to independent bloggers, friends and family, or even strangers, for trusted information about products — expressly because these influencers are not tied directly to brands.” — Deloitte: Navigating the New Digital Divide
The New Shopper Journey & Influencer Marketing
80% of marketers plan to use influencer marketing in 2016, and 80% intend to increase their spend this year. Forbes forecasts budgets shifting to earned media through influencer marketing in 2016 to beat barriers like ad blocking, while Huffpost Business forecasts that influencer marketing will be responsible for $100 million in sales this holiday season. Influencer marketing is also expected to reach 50% of digital marketing spend for shopper marketers this year.
Forward thinking marketers have found that influencer marketing is capable of filling all the touch points on the path to purchase: Influencers can create trusted, evergreen content which can be re-purposed and reused, they can promote content, they can demonstrate via social video the “how-tos” of a product or service, make complicated technical or medical jargon understandable to their followers, direct shoppers to in-store placements, promote contests and offers, offer digital coupons, start conversations, offer opinions, reviews, recommendations and more. All of this can be targeted, measured, amplified and scaled.
Influencer Marketing: Proven In-Store Sales + ROI
As of April 2016, influence marketing’s impact on sales and ROI has been directly linked to in-store sales. Nielsen Catalina and Tapinfluence demonstrated a 10% incremental sales lift for CPG brand Silk® from blogs alone. This influencer content also generated 11X the ROI of a traditional marketing campaign.
Marketers are finding influencer marketing as cost-effective as email marketing. It beats ad blocking, bots and “banner blindness,” and can increase SEO by as much as 25–50% — plus the cost of content creation is included! RhythmOne placed the average value of earned media at $11.20 for every $1 spent on influencer marketing (an increase of 63% in two years).
When 92% of consumers are reading online reviews and 88% trust them much as a personal recommendation, when over 70% of shoppers are turning to influencers, friends and family to make decisions about brands and products, and blogs alone can lift in-store sales by +10%, influencer marketing is clearly contributing to business goals. According to Augere’s 2015 study:
• 93% of professionals consider influencer engagement an effective strategy to build brand awareness
• 75% consider influencer engagement effective in lead generation
• 76% consider influencer engagement effective in garnering customer loyalty
Influencer marketing has the extraordinary ability to cut through the noise and clutter and engage with shoppers through all the touch points and stages of their consumer decision journey. From awareness to sales to loyalty: When shopper marketers collaborate with influential shoppers to communicate authentically with consumers, it works.
If you are ready to start, Vibrant Nation can help.