Understanding consumer behaviour is not just about finding out what products or corporate gifts appeal to a demographic. From a marketer’s perspective, it should be about getting down to specifics like why a customer acts a certain way in a unique gift store, how people share information with each other, and what cultural or societal influences are at work in shaping their perceptions.
In the UK, in particular, there is a number of buying habits and behaviours that anyone marketing to the British population needs to know about.
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UK shoppers are loyal
While brand loyalty is often earned with difficulty, 65% of UK shoppers identify themselves as ‘a loyal shopper’ who prefer to shop with retailers they’re already familiar and have experience with. This statistic is slightly higher than the 61% of customers globally saying they are loyal to specific brands or products.
The loyalty of British customers is good news for businesses who have already established close ties with shoppers previously. It also reinforces how valuable it is for new market entrants to build connections with customers through personalisation efforts.
UK shoppers value free, reliable delivery and product returns
Three out of ten British consumers say that fast and reliable delivery strongly influences their choice of retailer. Aside from reliability, customers also prefer free delivery (80% of all online purchases received free deliveries) and expect some form of parcel tracking after making their orders.
Another top reason UK shoppers buy from the same stores is a free product return policy (28%). However, since it takes 6 days for respondents to receive reimbursements when returning via online methods, 34% of shoppers said they prefer to return products in-store.
This means retailers will need to resolve last-mile delivery issues to meet customer expectations and provide free returns to customers to thrive in online retailing
UK shoppers research products online
Across the consumer product groups listed (including electronics, appliances, clothing, furniture, and many others), UK shoppers significantly prefer researching products like electronics, appliances, and clothing online over visiting stores (57% vs. 21%, respectively).
While many British consumers do their product research online, a lower percentage actually buy online. Higher value items such as household appliances, consumer electronics, and furniture are still preferred to be bought in-store.
On the other hand, lower value purchases such as toys, music, books, movies, and video games showed the smallest difference between online research and purchase.
With that, ensure that customers can find information about your products online by being present in search engine results and social media.
Stores are still essential to the Brits’ buying journey
While online shopping is growing (36% in 2017 compared to 32% in 2016), around 40% of shoppers still used the brick-and-mortar store at some point in their path to purchase. Physical stores are, in fact, important to online sales because 21% of purchases made online use ‘Click & Collect’ methods where two-thirds picked up their item in the store, and the remainder used other local collection points.
Physical store shopping remains an important part of a Brit’s consumer journey since it is a fun activity to spend time, shop around, and see what’s on trend. According to James Tilley, KPMG Supply Chain Director, “The role of the store is key in providing a showroom which delivers an outstanding service and an attractive and memorable retail environment.”
Provide customers a seamless shopping experience by integrating your online and offline stores. Additionally, consider giving away promotional corporate gifts to customers to improve in-store contact and encourage brand loyalty.
Product knowledge of sales associates and ability to check stocks are important
When it comes to the in-store shopping experience, two attributes were rated highest by UK shoppers – sales associates’ deep knowledge of the product range (60%) and the ability to see and touch the product before purchasing (45%).
These factors highlight the need for businesses to invest in acquiring talent and training and developing in-store sales persons. By doing so, they can provide a smooth in-store experience for customers who are looking for a knowledgeable staff to speak to.
Millennial Brits seek validation from social networks
Social media has affected many aspects of the customer’s purchasing journey all over the world. In the UK particularly, it was found that Millennials use 5 times more social media compared to their older counterparts. This is an especially important statistic for those in the fashion industry, where celebrity endorsement and social media trend setting are most powerful.
It is also notable that millennials now make up 25% of the entire UK population. Businesses whose target market are the younger generations must solidify their social media presence to meet customer expectations.
Mobile shopping is valuable to younger consumer groups
Twenty-eight percent of all UK shoppers made purchases using their smartphones—6 out of 10 of them being millennials, and the remainder from older generations. However, 22% of all mobile shoppers argue that retailers’ mobile websites are not easy to use, and 18% say they feel lack of security.
This poses an opportunity for businesses to ensure that their websites have an easy-to-use mobile interface to create a smoother shopping experience for customers, no matter the device they are using to access. Moreover, retailers need to adopt measures in making customers feel secure when browsing their mobile website.
Studying the behaviour and habits of consumers enables any business person or marketer to create a sales and marketing strategy that meets customer preferences and expectations.
It’s now the good time to start incorporating what the British consumer values—brand loyalty, free delivery and product returns, and a smooth online and in-store customer experience—to your core values.