Black Friday shopping

Captivating content and engaging in-store experiences are not mutually exclusive. Adobe’s latest report, “2018 Adobe Consumer Content Survey,” details the evolution of the role of content and its influence over purchases. The report includes updates on consumer preferences and the type of content that drives the most sharing.

To collect the insights for the report, Adobe dispatched 1,011 surveys among U.S. adults during December 2017. All survey participants were required to own at least one digital device.

Here, Loni Stark, senior director of strategy and product marketing at Adobe Experience Manager, discusses the survey findings and how retailers can apply the results to current digital strategies.

WWD: With expedited content consumption, how can brands and retailers best position their content to appeal to consumers?

Loni Stark: Consumers are spending nearly one-third of their days engaging with digital content, which is a pretty sizable chunk of time. This is a Catch-22 for brands and retailers because while consumers are willing to dedicate that much time to engaging with content, brands are competing for consumers’ attention.

To break through the noise, brands and retailers need to do two things. First, they need to deliver content that’s timely, relevant and contextual. In fact, 60 percent of consumers said it’s important to get relevant and timely brand content in order to have a positive experience. What’s more, 67 percent of consumers said it’s important for their content to automatically adjust based on their current context, like activity and location. Second, brands need to optimize content for the devices consumers are using. A whopping 75 percent of consumers said it’s important for brand content to display well on the device they’re using in order to have a positive experience.

To reach newer generations specifically, brands should invest in beautiful design, video and social content. More than half (51 percent) of Millennials said it’s important to receive beautifully designed brand content in order to have a positive experience. Of the teens we surveyed, 37 percent look to video channels like YouTube to help inform a purchase.

WWD: Given that consumers now research more online than in-store, how do you predict that role of the physical store location to evolve?

L.S.: Consumers want fast, engaging and cohesive experiences no matter when or where they decide to engage with a brand. And as our survey showed, both physical store locations and digital channels continue to play a critical role in the purchase journey. The largest number of consumers, 48 percent, research a product on a brand’s web site prior to making a purchase. But checking out a product in-store is the second-most reported research method. Consumers are also bridging the physical and digital worlds when they shop, with 58 percent of consumers using their smartphone or connected device while in-store to help inform a purchase decision.

There are many paths consumers can take nowadays to make a purchase and it’s up to retailers to unify these paths into one cohesive experience. If retailers connect the dots properly, they’ll be able to deliver more unified, personalized customer experiences and ultimately achieve higher brand loyalty and revenue.

WWD: Content by social media influencers is ranked as the second-highest most shared content, but less than half of those trust the content. Why such a large gap? How can this be minimized?

 L.S.: Consumers today are not easily swayed by traditional advertising from brands. In response, brands are leveraging social media celebrities to increase brand awareness and build an engaging audience. And while our survey found that nearly one-third of consumers are likely to share content from social media celebrities, only about one-sixth of consumers actually trust it. To achieve success, brands need to work with social media celebrities that fit their brand and are fully vetted to ensure credibility and authenticity.

WWD: Smartphones are increasingly the preferred device for consumers to interact with brands/retailers. What does this mean from a technology standpoint?

L.S.: Smartphones are a preferred device for brand engagement, but technology and digital leaders need to understand that consumers are not willing to put up with poor experiences on these devices. Consumers were very clear about this in our survey — make sure the content is optimized for our devices or we’re done.

If content takes too long to load on a device, 47 percent of consumers will stop viewing the content. If they’re having trouble interacting with the content on their device, 45 percent of consumers will stop viewing it.

This can also impact the bottom line. Twenty-nine percent of consumers said it’s most annoying when content isn’t optimized for their device and two-thirds of consumers said encountering a situation like that would prevent them from making a purchase.

WWD: The referral of online marketplaces to complete a purchase surpassed researching brand web sites and in-store investigations. What does this signal to retailers/brands?

 L.S.: Frankly, consumers are all over the map. We saw the bulk of consumers are visiting a brand’s web site and going in-store to research a product prior to purchase. This pattern changes when it comes to actually making the purchase, with 58 percent of consumers checking out on online marketplaces, 49 percent in-store and 36 percent on a brand’s web site. When it comes time to engage with a brand after the purchase, the bulk of consumers are back on the brand’s web site, in-store or on social networks.

More from WWD:

Mobile Commerce Hit $1.35 Trillion in 2017

Driven by Financial Stress, Millennials Tighten Purse Strings

Trump Hotels, CNN Top List of Most Polarizing Brands in U.S.

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