Redefining the shopper journey

Elena Capelli
Junior Client Executive
Kantar TNS

Immersive, memorable and social: a new era of commerce

In the ‘60s, Dylan sang “Then you better start swimmin’, or you’ll sink like a stone, for the times they are a-changin’.” A general notion of change that can easily be applied to the current state of things.

A decade after the global financial crisis, the Italian economy is recovering, but at a slower pace than other European countries. The reasons for this are many: unstable economic and political conditions, but also an aging population.

With a median age of 46, Italy has the second-oldest population in Europe, behind only Germany. Add to that a moving population thanks to rising numbers of refugees, asylum seekers and migrants from Eastern Europe, and all this influences Italians’ economic decisions.

Polarized and divided, Italian people show a range of attitudes depending on their spending power, but also depending where they live in, their age, employment status, level of education and their lifestyle; nonetheless, we can identify some long-term ways to engage customers and influence their buying behavior:

  1. Moments of Truth are countless – anytime, anywhere

Over the years, different Moments of Truth (MOT) have been identified: in 2005, A.G. Lafley, Chairman and CEO of P&G described what he called the First and Second Moments of Truth. Later, Google identified the Zero Moment of Truth, and more recently Amit Sharma, CEO of Narvar, defined the Actual Moment of Truth.

By “Moments of Truth”, we mean the different occasions when customers/shoppers meet brands: starting from their first experience with the product (which includes searching online for product details), to the postpurchase experience.

Nowadays, those first experiences of a brand can even take place live, interacting with stories from Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram, and involving other people (followers) in your seamless experience. Understanding winning moments for brands means knowing how and when shoppers want to be contacted. Identifying moments that really matter, and properly activating them along the path to purchase, is crucial to turning a follower into a buyer.

  1. The experience economy is not a joke

In 1998, B. Joseph Pine II and James H. Gilmore defined experience as the fourth economic offering (besides commodities, goods and services). Great experiences are memorable and enable people to engage on an emotional, physical, intellectual, or even spiritual level; that’s why youngsters are choosing experiences over things.

Now, 20 years after Pine and Gilmore’s paper, Starbucks has opened its first ever branch in Milan. Coffee-drinking has long been an essential part of local culture; nevertheless, people willingly join the queue to be part of the memorable Starbucks experience: an historic spot, where you can discover all sorts of coffee brewing methods while sipping coffee from a premium black cup. A unique theater that makes you feel special (“Every coffee we roast is as unique as you are”).

Bear in mind that “experience” does not have to mean the absence of digital resources. In fact, the more retail becomes digital (thanks to AI, connected speakers and assistants), the more it becomes invisible to shoppers and this will ultimately facilitate more personal retail experiences, in a more intuitive and human way.

  1. O2O commerce is impacting the customer decision-making process

As consumers divide their time between media channels (such as Facebook, Instagram, WeChat*) and real O2O platforms (such as Deliveroo and Glovo), there are now faster way to shop (even directly from Instagram Stories, by integrating products into branded stories content). S-commerce, like that proposed by Instagram, is a fact and it’s mainly based on exclusivity and personalization, as the stories are immersive and full-screen format. You can’t even see notifications at the top of the screen while watching an Instagram story.

Chris Murphy, head of a digital experience at adidas US, recently said, “We no longer live in a world where it has to be either brand or commerce. Consumers don’t think that way, and neither should we.” What’s better than buying clothes, products and other stuff directly proposed by your favorite influencers, while catching up with friends?