Research reports land in my in-box pretty regularly. Some are specific to retail technology, but plenty have a consumer slant: Do consumers really understand GMOs? Which brands are “winning” at social media? As an editor, I look at each from an objective viewpoint. As a consumer, I can’t help but compare and contrast my attitudes against the findings.
Case in point — the American Customer Satisfaction Index, released in February. The report found that after three years of incremental improvements, online retail slipped 4.9 percent to a benchmark of 78 (on a 100-point scale) while bricks-and-mortar retail gained 1.7 percent to a virtually identical benchmark of 77.9 percent. The report acknowledged the online sales surge during the holiday selling season, but suggested that hiccups with supply and delivery during the fourth quarter left many consumers less than pleased with the experience.
Based on personal experience, I was a bit surprised. I did the majority of my holiday shopping online without a problem. I didn’t wait until the last minute, which may have made the difference. Still, I ordered from some of the biggest online brands, some traditional retailers’ e-commerce websites and even a few new, entrepreneurial types. Was I satisfied? Yes: While I’m sure I could have saved a bit here and there if I had spent more time in stores and doing my price homework, I have no regrets. Online retailers simplified the most stressful time of year for me.
Then there was the study published by Experian Marketing Services, the “Always-On Consumer.” The report is intended to help retailers and marketers gain greater understanding of how their target customers use smartphones and whether pushing advertising to them digitally is likely to click or clash. It identified seven segments, from the Prodigies who are constantly connected (5 percent of mobile users) to the Personals who, despite being among the youngest customers, are also among the least likely to use social media (15 percent); this group’s use of messaging apps like WhatsApp and Google Talk is off the charts (apparently Mark Zuckerberg got the memo).
Experian would lump me in with the Pragmatists — mobile professionals who use their phone primarily to stay on top of work and home. The report says, “Pragmatists are open to advertising on their phones, but they need to get something in return … [and are] less likely than average to purchase items they see advertised on their phone.”
Bingo! I’ve made purchases on my phone before, but not based on advertising. In fact, I’m turned off by advertising on my phone; it feels intrusive to me. Maybe the problem is that I feel numb to promotions lately. Everything can’t be 40 percent off — nor can it change my life.
I do my share of shopping, and those closest to me can attest that I do plenty to prop up the economy. I’ll make you a deal — don’t send me ads on my phone and I’ll keep shopping — online and off.