By Lisa Ciangiulli, Optism Team, Apr 27, 2012
Social Media’s influence across the ecommerce landscape has been profound. With so many choices and conflicting information about which products to choose, consumers are increasingly relying on their social networks both off-line and online to query their community about the right product and service choices. I’ve done it myself and asked my Facebook crew for recommendations on which gaming system to get for my kids. Why did I do it? Because it’s real-time feedback and it makes my life easier. In addition to listening, consumers are also broadcasting their recommended products out to their community. No matter whether they are listening or broadcasting, consumers have become more sophisticated and more careful about their shopping choices — using all available options.
Mobile has accelerated this trend by allowing retailers and other companies to easily reward this word-of-mouth behavior with non-currency rewards. One of the experts on this new trend is Liz Crawford who was recently interviewed by Mike Lewis of Business2Community in an article entitled, The Shopper Economy: 5 Questions with Liz Crawford. Crawford identifies a new dynamic where a shopper can actually earn value in exchange for one of four behaviors: paying attention (e.g. watching a video), participating (e.g. demoing a product), advocating (e.g. writing a review on Yelp), or committing (e.g. participating in brand-sponsored charity event). The rewards can be loyalty points, free mobile minutes, discounts, social recognition or free products like a phone.
Crawford says, “I thought it was fascinating that digital technology, especially mobile technology, was enabling new kinds of transactions between buyers and sellers. In addition to shoppers purchasing brands, brands were purchasing shopper behavior. I believe this is a relatively new phenomenon.”
Crawford has a new book, The Shopper Economy: The New Way to Achieve Marketplace Success by Turning Behavior into Currency. In the book, Crawford provides detailed examples of Brands, like American Express, that understand consumers are evaluating many products. They know that if they can incentify people towards evaluating their products, they will have a better chance of selling it. Some of the companies helping brands provide behavioral currency include Foursquare, shopkick, SCVNGR and Checkpoint. shopkick gives you kickbucks just for entering the store without buying anything and then you can redeem these kickbucks for gifts like iTunes gift cards, movie tickets, store gift cards and even make donations to charities.
This is a fast-moving trend that will only grow as consumers increase their use of mobile. Crawford says, “Shoppers will become increasingly sophisticated in understanding the worth of their labor. This means that they will evaluate transactions with brands and retailers with a sharper eye to their own advantage.” Marketers pay special attention to Crawford’s words as the consumer is smarter and has more power than ever before. On the opposite side of the equation, it makes you wonder if people will behave a certain way in order to get rewards thus creating artificial brand advocates.
What do you think about rewarding shopping behaviors? Is it something that you will do or have done? Let us know by leaving a comment or participating in our Facebook Poll. If you could earn something in exchange for sharing your shopping behaviors such as “paying attention” or “promoting” a brand’s product/service, which option would you be most likely to choose?