Introduction

Today’s modern, empowered connected consumer is a paradoxical phenomenon that until now has not been adequately understood within the marketing world. The paradoxes that make up the connected consumer contain actionable insights and practical tools that represent a next-level approach to hacking the hidden gaps of connected consumers’ purchase journeys.

Though this 5-part series briefly covers only select highlights of the research study that first identified these paradoxes, the full report can be downloaded at zenmedia.com. For a brief introduction to the concept of the connected consumer as well as an overview of the first paradox, please see Part 1 of this series.

Paradox 2: Connected Consumers are independent, yet interconnected

Connected consumers pride themselves on their fierce independence, yet this independence is a paradoxical product of the inescapable social matrixes (online and offline alike) in which they are embedded. Not only do connected consumers derive their independence from these social matrixes, but also their sense of individuality, since to express this individuality (and even to define it), they are dependent on other consumers, products and brands.

The search is on: the perfect, personalized product is out there

Connected consumers don’t focus in on a single product. Instead, they conduct an extensive, sweeping search, sorting through between 50-100 different products with the conviction the perfect product is out there. Not content with a product that falls within the ballpark of what they have in mind, they aim for high degrees of personalization that check off boxes most brands have yet to comprehensively identify. (And to be fair, connected consumers identify many of these boxes only through the process of systematically curating and comparing products for themselves.)

In the absence of brands facilitating this curation and comparison process, many of our participants described creating elaborate product spreadsheets. One of our participants, Nicole, shared how she collated more than 50 online options by categories that reflected her preferred features. She also expressed disappointed over being unable to find a Top 10 list to see how other consumers had ranked various products.

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Hacking the gap: Customize and curate

What we learned

Finding a seemingly perfect product early in the process is no guarantee of an immediate sale. Paradoxically, finding the perfect product right out of the gate only spurred our research participants to continue searching to ensure there wasn’t something even better out there. In the eyes of connected consumers, the perfect product is always one click away from a more perfect product whose features more closely match personalized criteria. Connected consumers are so insistent on a personalized purchase experience that take it upon themselves to fill in the informational gaps brands have failed to close for them.

The takeaway for your brand

Like MatchCo cosmetics and Galia Lahav House of Couture, close the gap on the front end by engaging connected consumers in more personalized ways and anticipating and offering greater product customization. Like Pottery Barn or video game company Entertainment Arts, close the gap on the back end by engineering easy, efficient ways for connected consumers to curate and compare multiple products or genres at once.

Don’t just “push” content to connected consumers, prime them to “pull” customized content to themselves. This is a value-added service that honors connected consumers’ desire to feel in control of their own purchase journey while still allowing them to rely on brands for supportive guidance.

In conclusion

Connected consumers may be highly independent, but this independence is predicated upon the social matrixes to which they are beholden. Brands that are aware of this paradox can more effectively remove obstacles and remedy breakdowns within these matrices that compromise connected consumers’ independence as well as their trust.

Making a next-level move requires brands to find ways to support connected consumers’ desire to drive their own purchase journey while not abandoning them to the “heavy lifting” many of them are currently doing. Brands that can create better maps and navigational systems for connected consumers (complete with alternate routes) will not only ease the purchase journey but will become the decisive destination.

[“source=forbes”]