Online Retailing And The Inconspicuous Consumer

As we’ve said any number of times, having an online presence and online advertising have become crucial to fashion and luxury brand retailers.
Yes, it’s early days and I hate to be the one to mention it first, but retail planning for Christmas is well underway and, as we discussed before, online shopping has become the second most common shopping choice outside of the traditional trip to Dublin city centre. Even when it comes to decision making, 43% of ‘urbanites’ browsed online for gift ideas – compared to just 27% claiming to look in gift guides (and let’s be honest, 99% of those gift guides are probably either Argos or ToysR’Us catalogues).
Our own ‘State of the Nation’ national survey found that 38% of us planned to look for better bargains online this year, while a huge 53% plan to do more research online this year before buying a product. Among the typical retail high-street target market (females 18-34), a whopping 65% are researching online more than they did in 2010. 15% of them also planned to spend more online this year when we asked them at the start of the year. By way of comparison, the same women planned on cutting all other expenditure across the board from coffee to electronics.
All of this has created some very interesting shopping patterns among consumers as we move towards Christmas 2011:
  • Consumers are coming into fashion retail stores knowing exactly what they want to see because they’ve already checked it out online.
  • Likewise, consumers (particularly in the area of electronics) are using retail units as browsing device – interacting with the products – before looking for the cheapest offering of that product online.
 The instant gratification consumer and the impulse buyer have long scarpered. The small pangs of guilt previously associated with such purchasing behaviour has grown to the point were the pain outweighs the pleasure.
It’s not just the consumer behaviour that reflects this sudden dislike of conspicuous consumption amongst a nation who embraced it so enthusiastically during the Celtic Tiger years. Fashion itself is reflecting this mindset. The handbags and logos got smaller – instead of the dogs. And you can forget the NASDAQ, if the Hemline Index is to be believed then we are still going to be in recession at least until Spring 2013.
The move (note I said move not ‘trend’) to shopping online, makes it clear that online advertising needs to be a major part of fashion retail campaigns. But combine it with the trend for inconspicuous consumption and you can see that online advertising and retailing is a natural fit for consumers where retailers can really reap rewards (and loyal customers). At a time when consumers need a lot more information before making an informed purchase, online is a medium which can communicate the amount of information they need, and ensure that they don’t feel any guilt about buying your products.
Image by Permanently Scatterbrained on Flickr Creative Commons

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