Buzz Marketing

Shoppers Today Want to Be:

  • Smarter
  • More Informed
  • Better Choices
  • Save Money

Shoppers today want to explore and think about how products can improve their lives. There also driven to bond with others and enrich relationships as they learn.

Today’s consumer is knowledgeable, before they even reach the shelf. They find incredible detail online, from every possible source, about the brands and products that matter to them.

When consumers hear about a product today, their first reaction is ‘Let me search online to learn more.

Today’s consumer will search. “What kind is it? What’s it like? How much does it cost? Do my friend’s like it?” It’s a new decision-making moment that takes place a hundred million times a day on mobile phones, laptops and wired devices of all kinds. It’s a moment where marketing happens, where information happens, and where consumers make choices that affect the success and failure of nearly every brand in the world.

Businesses today must understand that you must be present in a conversation when the consumer wants to have it, not when you want to.

The big news for marketers today is the critical new moment between stimulus and shelf in every product category. Mom or Dad still watches your TV commercial. But now they grab a tablet or mobile phone and search for “digital camera reviews.” They looks at comments from users on CNET and two other sites. They go to Twitter or Facebook and post: “Anybody have a great camera for under $100?” They hit YouTube and search for “digital camera demos.” All before their program ends — and before they get to the store shelf — they’re ready to make a decision.

The data revealed that the average shopper used 10.4 sources of information to make a decision in 2011, up from 5.3 sources in 2010. Yes, that number nearly doubled in one year — which shows you just how tough it is for marketers to grab the attention of consumers today. Shoppers are swimming in information. Those 10.4 sources range from TV commercials and magazine articles, to recommendations from friends and family, to websites, ratings, social media, and blogs online.

We learned that plenty of pre-shopping goes on in every category. Shoppers are digging up more information, from more sources, now more than ever before they buy.

Today’s shoppers carry access in their pockets. They create their own consumer guides a million times a minute with reviews, tweets, blogs, social network posts and videos for products of all kinds.

It’s simply the new mental model and the new conversation we all have to be a part of now!

We’re entering an era of reciprocity. We now have to engage people in a way that’s useful or helpful to their lives. The consumer is looking to satisfy their needs, and we have to be there to help them with that. To put it another way: How can we exchange value instead of just sending a message?

What makes a Zero Moment of Truth?

• It happens online — typically starting with a search on Google, Bing, Yahoo, YouTube or any other search tool or engine.

• It happens in real time, at any time of the day. More and more, it happens on the go: mobile searches on Google.

• The consumer is in charge, pulling the information they want rather than having it pushed on her by others.

• It’s emotional. The consumer has a need she wants to satisfy, and an emotional investment in finding the best solution.

• The conversation is multi-way: marketers, friends, strangers, websites and experts all have their say and compete for attention.

Making Smart Choices Fast

A mom knows her son isn’t feeling well, and now she’s parked at school with her mobile device, searching for a decongestant. She’s looking for:

1. More information about the product, and

2. Experiences that others have had with the product, and

3. Offers, discounts and coupons

In that moment she’ll make two decisions: what to buy and where to buy it. So when she sees that a particular decongestant has good ratings and that her local Walgreens is offering a coupon for $1.50 off, that sale has probably been made.

You see the advantage? If your business or brand is available, your customers will find you at the very moment they’re thinking about buying, and also when they’re thinking about thinking about buying. You can personalize your message for greatest impact with each possible moment and motivation.

The Wall Street Journal posted an article saying, “In-Store Sales Begin At Home”:

It’s well known that consumer’s research expensive products like electronics online, but coming out of the recession, consumers are more scrupulous about researching their everyday products such as diapers and detergent, too.

More than a fifth of them also research food and beverages, nearly a third research pet products and 39% research baby products.

Today, 62% of shoppers say they search for deals online before at least half of their shopping trips, according to that same article.

There are two heroes in all these stories: the consumer who does the research and the grocery store manager or marketer who is smart enough to be there at the moment the shopper is looking for them.

Word of Mouth

The tremendous explosion of ratings and reviews online has changed how people get information. But the change is still based on that oldest of human traits: word of mouth.

“Word of mouth is the medium we’ve been using since the tribal days to talk about essential knowledge.

What does word of mouth look like online?

• Consumers talking directly through email, social networks, chat and IMs, or posting videos on YouTube and other sites.

• Seller ratings in search results (search for “kid’s bikes” on Google and you’ll see the stars right at the top.)

Digital word of mouth is one-to-millions. If you have a good experience, it’s shared and re-shared with millions. You post it and suddenly, it’s flying.

The Product

Audiences are asking three things about your product:

• Will it save me money?

• Will it save me time?

• Will it improve my life?

When people ask each other about your product you can bet they’ll be talking about one of these three things.

They probably already have a general idea of what they want. “I know a new TV is going to cost $500. I have $500. I just want to make sure I buy the very best TV for that money.”

And you can bet they’ll be close to making a decision. That’s why they’re standing in the aisle tapping away on their mobile phone, after all. Ratings and reviews are little signposts left by decision-makers for other decision-makers. The people who read them are not just doodling around online. These are people who are planning to buy.

The 80–20 rule

We find that there’s a new version of the 80–20 rule: 80% of reviews on the site of a given retailer are written by the top 20% of their customers by lifetime value. We call them the super shoppers.” The math is simple enough: People like to talk most about the products they love the most.

The truth is, negative reviews increase conversion rates for all kinds of businesses, because people see them and know that they’re shopping in a truthful environment.

If you’re building an awful product, that’s one thing. But if your product is good (as it surely is) then you really shouldn’t fear the occasional negative comment.

Word of mouth online has got to become part of the central nervous system for every company.

Shopper’s Mindset

Why would people make decisions based on the opinions of strangers? They don’t. They make decisions based on the opinions of people like themselves.

What’s the mindset of people using online platforms? ‘My child just lost her first tooth. What are the going rates for the Tooth Fairy? When is it time to tell the truth about the Tooth Fairy? How do I handle that?’”

You’ll see the same thing happen whether the topic is the Tooth Fairy or accounting software for a 20,000-person corporation. People look for others who have been in the same situation as they are now. They know that fellow consumers (unlike advertisers) aren’t trying to sell them something.

A Google study found that 37% of shoppers find online social sources to be an influential driver when making decisions. That was up from 19% in 2010 — nearly doubling in one year.

The top online social activities among shoppers:

• Getting an online referral from a friend

• Becoming a friend or follower of a brand

• Reading blogs where the product was discussed

• Seeing the brand mentioned on a social networking site like Facebook

People have a powerful urge to share knowledge once they reach their own “moment of mastery. That parent who has the kid with the certain allergies, she now knows how to navigate that. And she wants to share. She went through it, she acquired the knowledge herself, and now she’s trying to really help and support others. Most of us have empathy for people who are right behind us, going through the same thing. And if we can make it easier for them, we do. You know the old saying: “If only I knew then what I know now.”

The truth is that for many shoppers in many categories, the single most powerful impetus to buy is someone else’s endorsement.

Google is so convinced of this that we created the +1 button, which lets anyone recommend products, services and websites to friends with a single click. While looking at a website or even at search results, you click the “+1” button to tell your friends, “I’m a fan of this.”

Yes! People do take the time to leave messages online about how much they love your product or service.

It’s not just for vacations and cars and refrigerators. It’s for a $5.99 bottle of dandruff shampoo or a $3.29 box of cereal or that 39-cent pen. People like to learn about and participate with all the products they use. Believe me, your great product is no different.

Do you know that 20% of searches across all Google properties are local. That’s not all: that number doubles to an amazing 40% for mobile searches.


Today’s moms are looking online for recipes, they’re comparison-shopping for cheaper brands, they’re checking out what their friends recommend. It’s because today’s moms and dads are busy and budget-crunched that they go online as they make decisions. Who has time to stand in the aisle in front of 32 feet of vitamins and read the backs of all the labels to find the right one?

Women have deep, deep sharing habits: product reviews, articles they’re forwarding, conversations, discussion boards, being engaged and being advocates in all kinds of ways.


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