A.T. Kearney released the results of the study “Connected Consumers Are Not Created Equal: A Global Perspective.” that is focused on better understanding today’s connected consumers—Who are they? What motivates them? How do they move from connectivity to consumption and what are the implications for global brands and retailers? Based on the findings the study provides recommendations for retailers and brands.
The research found that there are four important motivations for connected consumers across the globe:
- Interpersonal connection—73 percent of participants said that connecting with other people is a key motivation for going online. Strong in India (94 percent), Nigeria (89 percent) and China (88 percent)
- Exploration—Globally, 95 percent of respondents agree that the need to find and learn new things is a primary motivator for going online. No surprise there, but
- Self-expression—Sharing opinions with others through the Internet is particularly strong in emerging markets and places where offline self-expression is limited. In China, Nigeria, and India, more than 85 percent of respondents say that the ability to express their opinions is a key reason for being online.
- Convenience—Means different things—for some it is sports and movies, for others it is home delivery
Forty-six percent of respondents say social networks are the biggest draw for their time online, but there are big differences. In Brazil, Nigeria, India, and Russia people spend more time on social networks than any other activity; in the United States, Germany, and Japan social networks are not a main focus of online activity.
Hana Ben-Shabat, A.T. Kearney partner and co-author of the study noted, “The need for connection, self-expression, exploration, and convenience has changed the roles that brands and retailers play. To be successful, brands and retailers must address these needs by building communities, entertaining, and educating consumers and maintaining an ongoing dialogue.”
How does connectivity and online activity have an impact on consumption? In mature markets, only a few consumers say that they respond to banner ads or pop-ups (in the U.S. only 7 percent say they click on banners or advertisements). However, a high percentage of consumers in South Africa, Brazil, India, China and Nigeria are open to online ads and are willing to check out the offers behind them. In Nigeria, 93 percent of respondents say they click on banners and ads at least sometime; in India (84 percent) and China (83 percent).
The influence of social media on consumption varies dramatically by country and by age. Between two-thirds and three-quarters of connected consumers in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan say they rarely or never consider social media chatter when thinking about products, services, or brands to buy. However, the majority of consumers in China, India, South Africa, Brazil, and Nigeria will use social network feedback in shopping. Chinese consumers value social media commentary: almost 95 percent say they occasionally or frequently use social networks to evaluate products, services, or brands.
Mike Moriarty, A.T. Kearney partner and study co-author noted, “Physical stores remain the foundation of retailing. Ninety percent of retail sales occur in stores, and of people who buy ‘online,’ 50 percent of the sales go through online sites run by retailers with physical stores. For those consumers that buy something exclusively online, chances are (67 percent) these consumers will go to a physical store to discover, test, taste or get their friends to weigh in on the decision. The key point is that the debate should not be a question of digital vs. physical. Successful retailers understand how each customer touch point adds value in the eyes of customers, and they develop omnichannel strategies that maximize customer satisfaction and profitability.”