In our first edition of consumer behavior profiles, we take a look at what the US shopper likes, dislikes, values, and looks for from a brand when making a purchasing decision.
15 US Shopper Behaviors Every Marketer Needs to Know
To help you prepare for the upcoming holiday season, we’re taking a look at different consumer demographics to understand what they value, how they shop, and (most importantly) what you should know as an affiliate marketer. In our first edition, we examined the 15 behaviors of US shoppers you should know in order to get their attention and win their business. Holiday planning is starting now, so get to know your US customers in this blog post!
What does the US shopper value?
According to eMarketer, US shoppers are projected to spend over $450 billion dollars in retail e-commerce sales this year alone. This number is expected to grow to almost $800 billion by 2021, with no signs of slowing down in between.
Capturing the attention of these consumers is critical for any marketer, but in order to do so, they must first understand what’s important to the US shopper. Rakuten Affiliate Network research found that US consumers value the following five aspects of online shopping:
1. Comparing Prices:
US shoppers love price comparing. These shoppers will compare who has the cheapest version of the product they want, whether that product is cheaper in store or online, and if they can gain any additional savings, and then go with the cheapest option. This is especially prevalent in Millennial shoppers, who have shown to value price over brand loyalty when given the option between the two.
2. Reviews and Ratings:
US shoppers help drive the decision to purchase a particular product. When a US shopper is uncertain if a product is worth buying or not, they’ll deter to reviews – either on a sales page or through a content publisher/influencer – to help weigh the pros and cons of buying a product.
3. Free Returns:
When a US shopper makes a purchase on a product they want to know that if the product ends up not working out they’ll little hassle returning it. Convenience before and during the sale is key, but US consumers are just as conscious about the convenience of exchanging or returning the product after the sale is complete to help drive their decision. They’re also wary of things like restocking fees or having to pay shipping to return an item.
4. Money Off:
One of the biggest motivators for US shoppers to make a purchase is money off the total cost. If they can get a discount on the price, this will help them feel compelled to click “buy”.
5. Coupon Availability:
US shoppers are savvy and know exactly where and how to check for deals on products. Shopping online can lead them to a bounty of discounts and savings, but what about in store shoppers? US shoppers who take their purchasing power into the brick and mortar storefronts want deals too, and having a coupon available through an app, or even just available to use via a smartphone, can help convince those in-store shoppers to check out with their product in hand.
What should retailers know?
Tapping into the US market requires an understanding of what US shoppers are looking for most. In this section, we’ll review three must-know marketing strategies to capture the attention of American customers.
6. Free Shipping:
The importance of free shipping to a US shopper cannot be overstated enough. US shoppers don’t just want free shipping, they dislike the idea of even paying for shipping. In fact, 86% of US shoppers cited the cost of shipping as the reason they abandoned their online purchases in cart during the 2016 holiday season. Shipping is becoming increasingly important to US shoppers, with faster shipping times and the lowest cost possible (free or flat fee) being prioritized. When you’re looking to provide an offer to entice US customers, consider offering free shipping.
7. Friends and Family:
US shoppers want recommendations they can trust. They seek authenticity from reviews and value the opinions of people who have purchased from the retailer in question. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that American shoppers are influenced the most by the recommendations given by their family and friends. The strategy here is simple: give the people who shop with you something to be excited and positive about.
8. Customer Service Earns Loyalty:
American shoppers want a positive shopping experience at every step. While you’re considering things like mobile optimization and easier checkout experiences, you cannot overlook one of the most important aspects of a US shopper’s purchasing experience – customer service. Having high-quality customer service not only makes the shopping experience for US shoppers better, it wins their loyalty and future business.
What’s next for US shoppers?
The rise of the Millennial consumer and the upcoming Generation Z (Centennial) customer means one thing: US shoppers are changing. But where are they headed? These four trends will be critical for retailers and brands to watch for.
9. Social Media:
Social media is not slowing down anytime soon. From better tools for driving sales to resources from platforms like Instagram providing better disclosure opportunities, social media is becoming a great opportunity for influencers, content publishers, brands, and more to connect with US consumers where they’re spending their time.
Having features built into your site (such as recommending items based on a customer’s purchase history) can help add a personalized touch that a lot of US shoppers are looking for. Affiliate marketers can take that one step further and work with content publishers and influencers that speak to US shoppers about brands and products they might like, and the reasons they might like them.
US shoppers love their smartphones. They can comparison shop on the go, look for deals on the fly, and start and complete purchases while they’re away from their desktop. Mobile is being used in more aspects of the US shopper’s path to purchase, so make sure you’re mobile ready and optimized at every step of the process.
12. In-Store Pickup:
In store pickup is becoming an increasingly popular option for US shoppers to leverage. They’re able to find their product and checkout from their home, and then go in store to pick it up without worrying about lines, crowds, or if the product is even in stock. If you’re able to offer in-store pickup, your shoppers will thank you!
Take Action: Winning Over US Shoppers
After all this, what are your next steps? If you’re looking to get the attention of US shoppers, get started by applying these three actions to your marketing strategy:
13. Make Returns Easy:
When a Millennial doesn’t like a product, what do they do? A survey from Narvar and cited by eMarketer Retail found that 60% of Millennials will keep the product they don’t like just to avoid the hassle of returning it. This is a young demographic that commands a lot of spending power in America. Your best solution to addressing this is to make returns and exchanges as easy as possible. If you can offer free exchanges, that’s just as valued as free shipping, if not more because then the customer doesn’t feel like they have additional costs sunk into an item they didn’t want to keep, to begin with. If you have storefronts, offer a seamless online to in-store exchange or return experience. Make it as painless as possible because your customers will be more loyal to your brand if they know they won’t feel stuck with a purchase they no longer want.
14. Mobile Ease:
This isn’t just about optimizing your site to fit a mobile screen anymore. Customers are relying more on their mobile phones, and if they decide they want to make their purchase on a mobile device they want it to be as easy as their desktop experience. Make the browsing and checkout process optimized with mobile devices in mind – your US shoppers expect it.
15. Diversify Your Deals:
Don’t be afraid to switch things up and offer exclusive deals for different customers. Try offering incentives for US shoppers to subscribe to your newsletter or follow you on social media by promoting special deals and exclusive offers for these types of engaged customers. If you’re in the affiliate channel, you can also create exclusive and special offers for your publishers to promote to their audiences. US shoppers love feeling like they’re getting a special bargain for participating, so try it out!
Lissette Alvarez is a Senior Manager, Network Development for Rakuten Marketing’s Affiliate Network. Lissette specializes in Global outreach and partnerships. She has extensive experience with Integrated Marketing and helps create consumer success for top international partners. Prior to Rakuten Marketing, she worked as a Digital Media Manager for Fox Sports, Account Management at Google, and in Digital Planning for the Food Network. Lissette holds an MA in New Media and a BA in History from DePaul University. She is based in Chicago.