Alpha-Diver President and Founder Hunter Thurman

Hunter Thurman
Founder and President, Alpha-Diver

How can we elevate ‘omnichannel’ to more than just a buzzword in our work?

Fortunes are spent annually by brands and retailers of all sizes to understand how consumers make buying decisions. However, most researchers overlook the crucial aspect of how shopping method dramatically impacts the WHY of what retailers and brands people choose.

The buzzword “omnichannel” abounds in research and strategy briefs. While shopper understanding usually focuses on where and how they’re acquiring things, it can go further to unlock the WHY of real-life decision-making.

The way of getting something – in the haze of the omnichannel – dictates everything from which fast-food restaurant you visit to whether you’ll try a new beverage to the snacks you buy for your household.

Months back a busy colleague was lamenting the hassle of having to grocery shop for the household. I asked if she had tried click-and-collect or delivery. Her response: “No, but I’m definitely going to do that. I don’t know why I haven’t yet. That’s so obvious.” Cut to a couple of weeks later:

Me: “Did you try grocery delivery or ordering ahead?”

Her: “No…”

Me: “I thought that was the answer to your struggle?”

Her: “It is; I’m doing it next time.”

A couple weeks after that:

(Same scenario)

Her: “I don’t know why! I’m just going to keep going to the d@&% store, OK?!?”

The infamous “say/do gap.” Digital shopping would seemingly ease her struggle and yet she didn’t act. This leads to the three macro shopper mind-sets when it comes to food in general:

  1. Bricks Bound – Loyal to brick-and-mortar, 48% of shoppers.
  2. E-Com Enthusiasts – Prefer e-com shopping for food, 20% of shoppers.
  3. Fence Sitters – Could be persuaded either way, 32% of shoppers.

This gets to my point about the key to understanding context to diagnose the WHY of consumer behavior. 

Bricks Bound shop this way because it gives them CONTROL over the experience (no substitutions, delays, other people choosing their avocados). This is why my friend never made the switch: while she thought time and effort were her struggle, it was actually about control over the process.

E-Com Enthusiasts shop in this way because it empowers them to discover and explore (NOT because it saves money or merely reduces effort). 

In short, the context in the minds of consumers – not merely the where and how of shopping – defines the decision-making criteria. Shopping context is a major factor overlooked in most marketing organizations. As you plan your studies and assess opportunities, be sure to check assumptions at the door and dig deeply into not just the behavior, but the fuel behind it.