⟩ Executive Summary
Identifying the emerging digital behaviours which are disrupting media, and giving digital marketers a framework for success.
There's no doubt that the rise of digital touchpoints is changing how we engage with the world around us, with brands and with each other. Driven by the accessibility and ubiquity of smartphones, apps and mobile, new behaviours are emerging.
We've all seen the effect of these new behaviours and mindsets through the rise of showrooming, snackable content and commerce and active avoidance of broadcast advertising – both off and online.
We've called this 'Generation Curious' and this study is our understanding and quantification of these new behaviours and mindsets. They bridge fast and slow thinking, research, lifestyle and purchase behaviour with a range of motivations.
⟩ Generation Curious: Archetypes
We have identified four specific archetypes, which describe specific behaviours at particular moments driven by different kinds of curiosity
- Answer Seekers – people looking for quick answers and not much else.
- Focused Shoppers – people who purchase on impulse with highly focused research.
- Explorers – people who become addicted to discovering new and ecclectic information.
- Careful Buyers – people who conduct thorough research before making a purchase.
Any one person will have a bias towards particular archetypes, but at different times and in different categories of interest, behaviours and mindsets will vary driven by the degree of curiosity and urgency of the action.
These archetypes can be used as a tool to plan digital media to directly drive behaviour change – giving brands a useful or inspiring role in the customer and shopper journey.
Answer seeking demands quick answers and not much else. People come across something that piques their interest; spend a short amount of time looking for answers, then move on. Their curiosity is easily satisfied by basic research, and doesn't lead them to more interesting topics. As such, they spend very little time on this; 68% spend 10 minutes or less researching.
Answer seeking commonly arises from things people encounter offline - TV and other non-device media, other people, or printed material. This often revolves around an immediate concern such as a health issue (theirs or their families'), but it could also be a specific item of interest such as a current news item.
Focused shoppers make decisions impulsively, and tend to keep their research activity focused on what they're curious about. They want things simple – they're 53% more likely to say they tend not to overthink things and 66% more likely to say they get annoyed at people who always ask "why".
As such, they tend not to over-complicate decisions, and are thus also more likely to purchase on impulse; they are 25% more likely to buy now than later, and 86% of those who purchased didn't initially intend to do so.
They consume a good deal of digital content and engage heavily in online channels. They are 50% more likely to be triggered by an online article, and 30% more likely to be triggered by a catchy online headline. Online ads are quite effective as well with this group, 44% more effective in triggering eventual purchases to be exact. When discovering interesting things, they are 76% more likely to share on social and 30% less likely to tell someone in person.
Their instant, on-the-go nature makes mobile a natural choice for engagement, and they are clearly more comfortable wielding their smartphones. They are 2X as likely to visit a site, watch a video, post on social media, or use an app via mobile, and are 44% more likely to make a purchase through their smartphone.
Explorers enjoy meandering and doing research. They may or may not have a firm intention for seeking answers, but regardless they let their journey of discovery take them wherever it may lead, often diverging far from where they started.
Explores can be triggered by a wide variety of things – they're 33% more likely to be triggered by physical objects, and 22% more likely by random thoughts. Explorers use a wide range of resources to satisfy their curiosity. While they employ digital means as well, they are 22% more likely to consult a traditional book or magazine, and 27% more likely to seek out a friend for advice.
They spend a lot of time satisfying their curiosity, mostly on things beyond what initially piqued their interest. Fifty-eight percent of explorers spend at least half an hour doing research (1 in 5 spend many hours), with 60-80% of their time spent learning about unrelated topics.
This isn't necessarily a good thing. – Explorers may take longer because they're not finding what they're looking for. The fact that explorers are 45% more likely to be dissatisfied and 25% more likely not to find what they're looking for seems to indicate this.
Nevertheless, explorers are more inclined to share results – 14% more likely to tell someone in person.
Careful buyers are take time to conduct research before making decisions.
This research isn't focused; instead, they allow their interests to jump from one topic to the next depending on what they find. As a result, they end up very satisfied after they make a purchase, even if it's different from what they originally set out to buy.
Careful buyers explore 70% more research than the average person, and 58% spend at least half an hour exploring. 57% spend 60-80% of their time on things other than the ones that initially piqued their interest.
They spend quite a bit of time online, and are 3X more likely to be triggered by online images or videos. They are also 14% more likely to share information on social media.
Unlike curious explorers, careful buyers seem to enjoy the process more. They are 48% more likely to call the experience of exploring fulfilling, and 1 in 3 call the experience addictive (23% more likely than average). Careful buyers are also 37% more likely to be very satisfied with the experience.
Purchase behaviour is more deliberate as well.
⟩ Generation Curious: Implications and Applications*
Given the changes in behaviour and mindset, marketers need to think differently about how digital media is planned and bought. The biggest implication is to shift from a demographic/audience based approach to one targeting behaviour at specific points in the consumer journey. The availability of contextual based digital media enables marketers to do this, planning around user and shopper journeys primarily, and constantly seeking new digital opportunities and touch points as they come to scale. Finding opportunities to personalise around interest and intent is critical so that people will willingly receive brand messages, content and utility – driving positive behaviour change and striving to be welcome in the journey. We anticipate that this would involve a significant increase in the proportion of spend on mobile – across a multitude of opportunities.
Immediate implications which we believe should be considered include:
Search is the first place answer seekers go on their journey for information, and is the first place to look when building a brand's presence. It's a primary entry point for people in this mindset who are looking for a quick answer to a question. Ensuring we utilise all Google ad extensions to get the answer seeker to the right content and quickly is crucial, providing deep links to relevant information such as click to call, consumer ratings or app downloads.
Yet increasingly, an answer for a real time prompt (for example a news item) is first sought in social, especially Twitter that can keep up with live conversation from peers and news outlets. Having a point of view in owned social channels will increase relevance and discovery of your brand. We can support this by deploying sponsored social posts such as Twitter keyword targeting, focusing on what's happening now or what questions are being asked.
When planning for this mindset, marketers also have to think device, and as reflected above, this is increasingly mobile first. For answer seekers, the device that can provide the speediest response is likely to be a mobile. Blippar's visual search product shortcuts the process down to an image, therefore integrating brands into this type of technology brings you quickly into the frame.
In future, brands will need to embrace the Internet of Things to a greater degree, as answer seekers look to whatever is immediate for a response. This might be a personal virtual assistant, like Siri (more on that later), or using physical objects as prompts, via near-field communication (NFC) or augmented reality.
Marketers must to be fast and anticipate the needs of focused shoppers. Brands should have owned channels set up to ensure they are optimised for myriad search strings and appear in shopping listings on Google with their latest information, price and stock information. Dynamic, retargeted display advertising that reflects the potential purchase and leverages the impulsive nature of the focused shopper.
Again, mobile is key. Taking note of location for example and using existing first party data and beacon technology to deliver a timely prompt can increase chances of conversion in physical environments. And optimising your conversion channels on mobile to shorten the checkout process (for example by integrating Apple Pay or using Facebook Login) will allow the focused shopper to achieve their goal quickly.
We will need to go beyond optimising our content for mobile, and look to achieve full integration with the device. Connecting with native technology brings you closer to responding to this mindset. That means ensuring you are compatible with technology like Amazon Echo or Apple's Siri, thus being able to order a film from Amazon Prime or book a service like Uber purely by voice.
Looking forward, the demand for 'now' means we have to accelerate and simplify purchase for the focused shopper archetype. That will mean addressing everything from delivery or collection (e.g. Starbucks Mobile Order and Pay) to shortcutting the order process to a push of a button (Amazon Dash).
The old media planning and buying behaviours remain most valid for the curious meandering archetype. Without them having a focused task at hand, we still have the opportunity to put a brand into the exploration journey in a positive way. Rich, engaging formats and video content will be of value, especially if it has relevance to the current attention focus. But even when it doesn't we can look to entertain or provide utility to an archetype that is open to discovery. Not just online, but in the real world too. For example, interactive, intelligent digital out of home ads give an explorer something to engage with, from deeper content to personalised ad experiences.
Native advertising offers a clear opportunity to engage with this mindset. Incorporating a brand into the content on-page stands a stronger chance of eliciting an engagement, whether this is through video, branded content, advertorial or sponsored posts in social. Ensuring this is done organically alongside paid support is important, as platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram are designed for discovery.
Planning cross-device will also be of benefit for this archetype. Knowing the slow nature of their research, finding the same person irrespective of device allows us to refresh or continue to story in a way that aligns to their own agenda.
Whilst this mindset offers us the closest link to traditional planning, it also offers the greatest threat. The future looks like one where ad blocking is a significant force. We are offered myriad ways of avoiding advertising, not just with ad blocking tools but the ability to fast-forward through ads on your Sky+ box to YouTube skippables. The solution looks likely to be less about new channels and media (e.g. native ads) and actually focused on how marketers can make the advertising relevant and engaging so that people don't feel the need to block. Our data-led digital technologies that allow us to target by location, to understand intent, and to deliver the most appropriate message, are our most powerful tools if used properly.
When planning for the careful buyer, marketers should consider depth of content and multiple touchpoints along the consumer journey. At some points product / brand information will need to be surfaced. At others, peer to peer opinion. And ultimately a call to action for conversion will be necessary; we must look for the prompts that indicate the careful buyer has reached the end point.
Content that is different to the usual above the line advertising could be the initial area to explore. Unilever for example created the All Things Hair YouTube channel, filled with hair styling tutorials from vloggers. This allows Unilever to prove relevance and credibility in the hair care space when this mindset is not yet at purchase, but is looking for inspiration or advice.
Google ad extensions will again play a role, providing product / brand review scores, store locations, deep links to information and more. But we must recognise intent exists in multiple places, so broadening visibility into other environments adds opportunity to engage. This includes YouTube video reviews and unboxings, linking to peer review content like Reevoo or Trustpilot, and (targeted) rich media display that allows product exploration, such as 3D video experiences.
The careful buyer is likely to have questions. Brands can put themselves in the best position to answer questions with live, 24/7 social teams empowered to talk about the brand or product. But we can also target these questions more broadly. A generic category based question ("what mobile phone should I buy"?) can be identified by keyword targeting in Twitter for example, and promoted posts for a particular brand inserted into timeline.
Because we know that the purchase path is longer for this mindset than the focused shopper archetype, visibility and tracking across touchpoints helps to maintain the brand presence and measure the success of media. For example, Facebook's Shop Visit tracking allows the marrying of ad exposure to in-store footfall via location tracking.
To ably assist the careful buyer archetype in the future, marketers must find platforms that get the brand / product into people's hands, even if it is virtual. At either end of the spectrum, Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift could give people a flavour of what a holiday destination is really like, allowing them to walk around a resort. Haptic technology will allow people to 'feel' the fabric of what they are looking at, either on a brand website or even in a mobile ad. These things can be the point of difference that provides true utility to the research hungry careful buyer.
*Thanks to Steve Ray at Mindshare for contributing to the Generation Curious: Implications and Applications section of this report.