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What Motivates Shoppers Also Mystifies Critics

We've been getting some interesting feedback on our Brand Loyalty blog article and whitepaper released in June. What appears to be really capturing people's attention most is Universal McCann's survey of online shoppers and what motivates them to share opinions about their shopping experiences. In the survey, six of the eight top reasons to share opinions involve the shopper's own experience--good or bad--or the experience of their friends. And, most interestingly, the good experiences outrank poor experiences two to one as reason to motivate sharing opinions. Also, good experiences were the top 3 reasons to "spread the word" to others.


The question then, is why web behavior is seemingly polar opposite of traditional retail behavior. Normally we (as consumers) all talk a lot more about a negative shopping experience than a positive one. It's simply human nature to want to "vent." So why are people so much more eager to post a positive review/experience online than a negative one?

One reader believes the reason there is such a great variance in offline/online shopping behavior is because offline transactions are considered "normal," every day fare--we shop, we wait in lines, we encounter all types of sales associates and we pay. It's a non-event. We may talk about the product we've just purchased, but not the process of purchasing it. So, when we complain, it's about the product. For instance, when we buy a new car, we don't typically talk about the cleanliness (or lack thereof) of the showroom and the coffee we consumed in the waiting room, we talk about the car and all its features.

Well, on the internet, the shopping and buying experience become so co-mingled that we become nearly as "wowed" by the process as we are by the product. And that may be the primary reason shoppers are so enthusiastic when all the stars align; when we save a trip to the store (saving precious time), find exactly what we're looking for (versus a wasted trip) and at the price we want to pay (versus wondering if it is available for less elsewhere)... plus enjoy an efficient checkout process (no waiting in line), shoppers just might feel motivated to really celebrate the experience, not just the product, by telling a friend about it. I can't recall that last time I told someone about a great in store experience - but am wowed all the time about things I see on the web. I was just telling someone the other day about a great experience I had using Netflix... that had nothing to do with the movie I was checking out.

What do you think? When you shop do you tend to share your experiences more when you're shopping online or offline? Do you talk more about a good or bad experience?

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I agree with some of your points regarding the wow factor when online however being a modest and regular user of internet sites for the last 6 years my customer experience of stores ties in with yours but the internet still at times is a scary place. In spite of the technology advances there is still the human behind the scene who has to respond and that connection between technology automation and people still provides a challenge that needs to be bridged.

For example I buy a product the transaction is good but the delivery delay causes me problems. DO i now say that there is a problem or do I just put it down to postage. I think overall the great opportunity is to measure the end to end experience to ensure consistency



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  • ShopTalk is a blog featuring "Quick Tips", trends and more written by experts from the Adobe Scene7 team who live and breathe web, rich media and customer experience. This interactive forum offers insights and best practices on the latest trends we are seeing in the marketplace to help improve your customer experience, ultimately driving conversions and revenues.
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