Consumer behavior is changing and retail brands and struggling to realign their approach to marketing accordingly. A new report, “The State of Retail 2019” from the “intent marketing” firm Synup examines what this gap means for retailers and how they need to adjust their tactics to ensure continued success.
We had the report’s author, Synup SVP Brett House, on the Above the Cloud podcast last week to discuss the report and the retail landscape in general. Brett will be a speaker at the LSA’s upcoming Place Conference 19, October 15-16 in Austin, TX.
The “State of Retail 2019” report was based on a combination of inputs, including a survey of 837 consumers who use retail stores and 288 executives at retail organizations at a director level or above.
The report also included a media analysis of 559 locations across the United States from five major retail brands, which Synup does not name.
Here are some highlights from our conversation with Brett. We include time stamps that take you to the relevant place in the podcast.
Retailers Need to Move Down Funnel
(Starting at 4:10) We asked Brett what he took away from the report. His overarching takeaway was that the growth in the use of digital devices (not just smartphones, but also smark speakers, IoT devices, etc.) and the resulting changes in consumer behavior are changing how retail brands need to approach marketing. Brand advertising is far from dead, but its importance is diminishing.
“Device saturation changes the media behavior of consumers and how they discover and find information. In a lot of cases, multi-location retailers and ill-prepared to manage this,” Brett said. “They need to revisit their digital strategy to something that is a little further down-funnel to realize where people are finding their information and where to get their information in front of people more effectively”
Websites in Decline
Brett argues that the ascendance of digital profiles (GMB, social presence, etc.) has diminished the importance of websites as a channel for brands. This position is counter to what we heard from Duda’s Itai Sadan on the previous episode of Above the Cloud.
Brett makes his point in this video clip and supports it with data from his report.
Is the Retail Apocalypse a Thing?
(Starting at 6:14) The “State of Retail” report shows little evidence of the retail apocalypse that has been ravaging shopping malls across America. The report’s consumer survey finds that 56% of respondents shop at local retail stores one ot two times per week, with another 14% visiting local retailers at least quarterly. Only 2% said they have forsaken shopping at actual stores.
“The retail apocalypse is largely exaggerated,” Brett said. “While consumer behavior is certainly shifting in favor of e-commerce…brick and mortar retail is still alive and kicking. It is important that retailers competing with e-commerce behemoths have to be able to respond to the changes in consumer behavior.”
Brett says having a real-time inventory feed is increasingly important for local retailers as they compete with online commerce.
The Impact of Unbranded Search
(Starting at 16:25) Brett acknowledges that consumers increasingly are conducting unbranded rather than branded search queries. And in place of branded search (e.g., “find me a Starbucks”) consumers are conducting longer-tail unbranded searches (e.g., “find me a coffee place with wifi and heavily tattooed baristas”).
“People’s searches are more unbranded but also more detailed,” Brett said. “For brands to manage this takes a deeper look into how people are searching.”
Brett said this underscores the need to have robust digital profiles, which while further down-funnel in nature, still have importance for brand building, especially for “aspirational brands” that haven’t yet achieved the name ID of their bigger rivals.
Listen to the full podcast here
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