All too often, brands focus on the “what” of shopping vs. the “how.” What style? What brand?
We lose sight of how purchase decisions are made and what drives that purchase. Yet in the quickly changing world of brands, two things remain constant: the retailers’ and the brands’ desire to influence a shopper’s purchase decision, and the consumer’s desire to validate their purchases.
What is validation?
When a shopper makes a purchase they consider its value and impact. They question, “Was it worth buying?” or “Is it the right style?” Shopper validation is the feeling a shopper gets when they know they’ve made the right choice and confirmed their purchase decision.
As we’ve seen major shifts in overall purchase behavior, validation behaviors have changed. Shoppers now seek validation of their purchases before they even reach the check-out lane, forcing retailers/brands to change the way they communicate. As this evolution continues, it will be crucial for purchase validation to be a focal point for pre-purchase engagement with shoppers.
Shoppers want to know that what they’re buying is in style. They want to know their peers will approve. Pinterest is a perfect example of how we see purchase validation moving into retail even before a purchase is made. On Pinterest, popular items that were once only “pinned” on the site are now featured in-store, marked with the site’s logo, informing shoppers of their popularity and further influencing purchase. What once was only visual discovery, influenced by what people liked, is now linking directly to in-store purchase.
New mobile styling apps, such as WeStyle, are also gaining major popularity among shoppers looking for more genuine, real-time feedback before they buy. WeStyle offers “instant style feedback plus discovery options that shift style uncertainty into total outfit confidence.” Shoppers are able to get instantaneous, honest feedback from a peer in the fashion community, giving them more confidence to make a purchase.
It’s important to remember that pre-purchase validation is not a new concept; shoppers have been using Yelp and making general product searches for years. But now more than ever, technology is allowing shoppers to look deeper into their purchases before they make a commitment. They have become accustomed to quick search resources and customized feedback to the point where they now expect it before making a purchase.
As pre-purchase validation becomes more influential, it will be crucial for marketers to embrace this new look at the shopper journey and search for new ways to help shoppers validate their purchases before they buy. Marketers need to consider the influence that pre-purchase validation has on pre-shop and the new ways shoppers are achieving that validation. Brands that acknowledge a need for more pre-shop communication and provide intuitive ways for shoppers to validate their purchases will most certainly have a leg up on the competition.
Carly Smith is a strategist at Momentum Atlanta