Ian Ralph of Marketing Sciences talked about the rise of the digital consumer at the NewMR Virtual Festival, discussing how new ways to shop require new ways to research:

  1. Who is the digital shopper? The digital shopper “is a savvy consumer who uses all of the channels available to them: retail, online, mobile and who-knows-what comes next!” Keep in mind that while 98% of UK consumers purchased from a store in the past 3 months, only 16% bought online and only 3% purchased from a mobile phone in the last 3 months.
  2. Implications for retail? If eCommerce can be direct (Nike), third party (Tesco) or peer to peer (eBay), what Ian calls “fCommerce” (the f for Facebook) plays on the social influences of shopping: fan pages, viral promotions stores and brand conversations. Next is “mCommerce”, shopping on mobile phones, which “empowers consumers to take online shopping into retail locations”: gathering information, searching offers, checking price, buying online, tracking rewards and now even paying at the till using the phone. What happens for stores? “vCommerce” (virtual commerce) brings the online experience in-store, holding phones over physical products to get more information about those products. It also moves the store outside the store, as Tesco created virtual displays in South Korean subways and Ocado provided window shopping using mobile phones. “This creates a seamless crosschannel consumer experience, changing the role of stores and brand/retailer partnerships.”
  3. Implications for research? “The shopper journey itself hasn’t changed, but how shoppers navigate it has.” Shoppers still move from need, awareness and research through to consumption but this is now nonlinear, with multiple channels being used at each stage. As a result, multichannel research needs to be consumer-centric, flexible and adaptable, integrating NewMR and OldMR, mulltimodal, device agnostic with new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). “Shopper safaris” would follow the consumer on their multi-channel journey, embracing in-home and in-store ethnography, mobile ethnography, online qualitative research and shopper diaries.
If the digital shopper is, in Ian’s words, “a savvy consumer who uses all of the channels available to them”, then the digital-shopper researcher is a savvy researcher who uses all the research methodologies available to them.