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Consumer behavior: how Digital Transformation changed the buying process forever

We already know that new technologies have completely changed the way products, services, and even content have been consumed, but the recent revolution in the purchase decision occurred with the invasion of smartphones into the user’s routine.

The mobile first experience, with immediate access to information, has empowered the aimed audience of all targets. And in this search for immediate answers, the new consumer inaugurated a new level of relationship with brands, called micro-moments.

Created by Google almost two years ago, the concept of micro-moments presupposes the fragmentation of the consumer journey, driven by the mobile first experience. You no longer have to face the desktop or notebook screen to do price searches, to learn something – like changing your car tire or getting safely to your destination. With smartphones, true pocket computers, the answers to almost every question are just a click away.

Smartphones have fragmented the user’s journey

But in practice, what does that mean? If before the digital platforms were the support of an almost solemn moment, with full attention focused on the search and selection of a product or service, the popularization of cell phones reversed this game. Now the purchase decision is literally in the user’s hand. And this crucial moment can happen in seemingly unpretentious situations, while other stimuli, such as commute, lunchtime, or even watching TV – in a process called second screen, occur. In addition, the dispersion of user attention requires an even greater effort by brands to capture and retain customer loyalty.

More engaged, the new consumer assumes the position of owner in relation to purchasing power. He looks for opinions about a product of his interest in social networks, watches reviews on a video platform to understand how it works, starts comparing prices and features in an environment to at some point decide for his purchase – online or not. The process is not systematic and the micro-moments can change order, further complicating the relationship of the brand with this engaged consumer.

But the purchase decision was already a structured process

In 2011, Google set the moment for online decision making as Zero Moment of The Truth (ZMOT). The ZMOT took place between the stimulus and the purchase itself, at the moment when the user was searching for more data to make his choice. Nourished by the necessary information, the First Moment of Truth happened when the consumer made a purchase decision, online or offline, paying for the product or service of their interest.

The Second Moment of Truth was determined by experience with its acquisition. As we can see in the diagram below, the user’s opinion about this purchase became the ZMOT of another consumer, who was searching for information – after the stimulus and before making the purchase. For a few years, the purchase decision has responded to this cycle.


Mobile first: the phenomenon that changed the ZMOT

And today, how can the buying decision process be defined? The micro-moments do not allow a specific cycle to be created, since the interactions with the consumer happen in a fragmented way, throughout the user’s journey. Decision-making happens at moments of momentum, generated by a specific need and without determined time.

Moment – I want to Know

79% of online users in Brazil are looking for more information now, compared to a few years ago.

69% of Brazilian smartphone users pick up the phone in the middle of a conversation to learn more about something that has been said.

Moment – I want to Go

82% of smartphone users in Brazil use a search engine when they are looking for a local company, close to where they are.

55% was the growth in “close to me” surveys in the last year

Moment – I want to Do

+2 million hours of “how-to” content were watched in the first half of 2015 in Brazil. Half of this content was seen on smartphones or tablets

94% of smartphone users have used them to get ideas while performing a task.

Moment – I want to Buy

80% of smartphone users use their phone to influence their purchase decision while in a store.

33% of consumers report having made an online purchase in their kitchen, another 28% in their car.

Source: Think With Google

The battle for the mind – and heart – of the consumer became even more difficult

And what would be the solution, in a universe of distinct brands, to be the one chosen at the time of the purchase decision? Undoubtedly, it’s not just the low price the new consumer is looking for. It is necessary to understand the user’s journey, to understand in which economic and social scenario he is inserted, what the causes defended by him are, among other characteristics, to devise a strategy that “talks” with his public in a true way. More than ever, brands need to rely on empathy to respond to consumer cravings.

In this context, Design Thinking is a powerful tool for companies seeking to keep an aligned speech with the potential customer. Centered on the user, the methodology provides the search for answers to real problems. The process of generating ideas is systematic and structured, from different phases and specific tools, that allow from the optimization of internal processes to the development of products and services more assertive to the end user.

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