Shopping Insights on the Consumer Journey

The upcoming holiday shopping season is projected to exceed $1 Trillion for the first time ever. Although its share is on the decline, brick and mortar stores still represent the majority of holiday retailing at 87.7%. eMarketer analyst Andrew Lipsman says “Not every brick-and-mortar retailer is thriving, and several have shut their doors this year, but others are really capitalizing on the strong consumer economy. Retailers are luring in shoppers with remodeled stores, streamlined checkout and options to buy online, pick up in-store.”

Ecommerce sales are also projected to rise this season, up 16.6% to a record high 12.3% of all holiday sales. To battle with online shopping powerhouses like Amazon, retailers are expected to fight back with more perks and promos like fast and free shipping. To stay competitive, retail marketers can use Google’s Shopping Insights tool to understand how people search within product categories.

Regardless of whether they’re going to buy their holiday list online or from physical retailers, 63% of shoppers turn to Google before making a purchase decision. According to Google, 61% of shoppers are open to buying from new retailers in the holiday season, as evidenced by searches containing “stores like” and “brands like” terms. Since shoppers are browsing and shopping over longer periods of time instead of one concentrated Black Friday haul, brands must create strategies to capture consumers and win the holiday.

In the discovery phase, shoppers find inspiration and advice online, whether it be from peer reviews or tutorial videos. They learn about the product category and how to use the product. Next consumers move to the research phase. With access to more information than ever, shoppers can overanalyze purchases big or small. It’s important for companies to cultivate interest by creating a seamless path from discovery to purchase. This can be done with easy-to-use websites, online assistance in the form of chat bots, and prominent videos. Finally in the purchase phase, shoppers are leaning into mobile. In the past two years alone, “shopping apps” have grown 90%.

Google analyzes keyword data from consumer searches throughout this shopping journey model to provide insight on which products and brands are popular among consumers. The tools popularity comparison feature means retailers can “track the relative popularity of various brands within a category and adjust their strategies accordingly.” Google will also create up to ten weekly and monthly email reports on products and categories marketers care about.

For an example of the tool, see below the results of three popular brands of CrossFit shoes with comparative search demand over time and state and device breakdown.

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From a marketing management perspective, here are some questions to consider:

  • If you were a marketing manager at Reebok or NOBULL, how would you use findings from Shopping Insights to compete against Nike in the holiday season?
  • How can marketers of brick and mortar stores capture demand during the online consumer journey?
  • What might be some ways the physical and ecommerce retailers use Shopping Insights differently? Similarly?