AT Kearney: 4 types of online consumers emerging

07 January 2015 4 min. read
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The difference in levels of connectivity among global consumers has led to the emergence of four consumer segments, a survey by A.T. Kearney shows. As the four segments need to be addressed differently by (online) retailers, the firm states that retailers should focus on creating a multichannel shopping experience, personalising products and interacting with consumers to meet the four needs met by the internet*.

The ‘Connected Consumers Are Not Created Equal: A Global Perspective’ report recently released by management consulting firm A.T. Kearney researches online behaviours around the world. Of the 10,000 ‘connected consumers’, people who say they are connect to the Internet at least once a week, as much as 28% of respondents say they are ‘continuously’ connected’ and 23% uses the internet every hour. In its report, the firm highlights the implications of this connectivity for global brands and retailers.

Online shopping
The survey shows that although the vast majority of purchases today are still made in physical stores, more than half of the connected consumers (54%) say they prefer online shopping. This percentage is even much higher in China where as much as 84% of consumers prefer to shop online, followed by Germany and Brazil (both 64%). According to A.T. Kearney, these results highlight the growing importance of the multichannel shopping experience. Ranging from online price checking and comparisons to actually purchasing an item online and evaluating the product bought. “The key point is that the debate should not be a question of digital vs. physical. Successful retailers understand how each customer touch point adds value in the eyes of customers, and they develop omnichannel strategies that maximize customer satisfaction and profitability,” explains Mike Moriarty, A.T. Kearney Partner and co-author of the study.

Preference to shop online

The report concludes with detailed breakdown of four unique consumer segments that emerge from the differences in connectivity and shopping preferences among consumers globally. An overview of these segments and the implications for online retailing:

Online champions like being online, they use the internet to surf, to interact on social networks, and to buy products and services. These consumers are the heaviest users of smartphones and social networks have a strong influence on their purchasing. They are being led by ‘likes’ and click on click on ads and banners while surfing; they are the digital marketer’s dream. Most online champions are found in developing markets, such as Brazil, Nigeria, and India. In total, 31% of all connected consumers fall under this category.

Social animals also like being online. They like to connect with people, enjoy entertainment, surf the Internet. The difference with online champions is that they do most of their shopping offline instead of online. Social animals are somewhat influenced by ‘likes’ when making a purchase. These consumers are not really tempted by online ads and the conversion from clicks to purchasing is low. The highest percentage of social animals is found in South Africa (40%), followed by Russia (33%). In China only 5% of consumers is categorised as a social animal.

Four consumer segments

Transactionals are consumers that do not spend that much time online, but when they do, they are focused and know what they want. These consumers prefer to shop online, although they do so in fewer categories. When it comes to brand engagement on social networks, transactionals are somewhat similar to the online champions. This category will most likely buy more online as long as they believe there is a need to do so. The biggest percentage of transactionals is found in China, the country where the biggest percentage of people prefers to shop online (84%).

Bricks, no clicks are consumers that are relatively less connected. They do few things online and prefer stores. This group is most likely to be loyal to the shopping channels and destinations they are used to. Their brand engagement is relatively low on social networks, they are not really influenced by ‘likes’ when it comes to their purchasing decisions. Similar to social animals and transactionals, the conversion ratio of ad clicks to buys is low. The highest percentage of bricks, no clicks is found in countries with developed physical retail options.

AT Kearney - Online shopping

According to the consulting firm, as every connected consumer is different, a few crucial ‘learnings’ for retailers stand out from the research. Value can be created at every touch point, so retailers should focus on omnichannel strategies. Personalisation is not a cliché anymore but has become a regular part of digital marketing. And the role of brands and retailers has changed as leading companies are addressing the four basic internet needs by building communities, holding conversations, entertaining, and educating consumers.

* The four basic needs met by the internet, as identified by A.T. Kearney, are the need for connection, self-expression, exploration, and convenience.