Tuesday, November 17, 2009



It is well understood that the consumer is spending a lot of time online, in a lot of cases much more time than what he spends in front of the TV set or reading print. And this share of time is increasing at a feverish pace.

When online the consumer does his research on the brand, this research can be a combination of self driven or could be triggered by peers on his social networks.

The more expensive the purchase, the more involved and extensive the research.

This is far more relevant because this is where the consumer spends time engaged in the category, seeking and deciding what alternatives he has options of. This is when is willing to form opinions and is willing to read and listen to referrals.

Most importantly, this is one dialogue process where the consumer is completely in control – he not only chooses the time and level of dialogue, if he does not like what he sees he can merely click it away and move else where.

The consumer is not closed to any brand in this stage – he is in fact in a “SELL TO ME” mindset, which has been well captured by Yahoo and exploited to the fullest by Google by their huge success of Adwords platform. This process is radically different from the one way communication which he gets subjected to in a TVC, print ad or a hoarding.

Putting up the brands’ TVC on Youtube.com is not the answer, ensuring that the brand participates in the “search” journey – by providing access to relevant data & information on brand comparison of features, USPs, costs, etc, and enabling communication with the user community and engaging with the user community - is the answer.

While brand owners have started spending an increased percentage of their budgets online (and is growing) – for a number of brands that spend still is backed by the “awareness creation” thought process, rather than focusing on the consumers search for information journey.

This integration of shopping with technology is real. 87% of US consumers research products online before buying them in person or in a store.

However across categories…the major buying still happens off line.

ROBO = Research Online Buy Offline.

This is not limited to B2B products or big ticket purchases like computers, phones or cars, but extends across all categories.

The consumer spends his research time comparing features, absorbing user experience reviews, understanding costs.

All this before he heads out in the last mile, to check out the physical experience and then buy.

To get into the consumers mindset, presence in the last mile needs to be preceded with relevant presence in the online search process.

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