How Smartphones Affect The In-Store Beer Buying Experience

Beer is big. It’s a $106-billion industry that continues to evolve and expand. And the shopping habits and purchase preferences of beer buyers are also evolving, which means that marketers need to recognize and respond to these changes in order to take advantage of these developments.

As has been the case in one industry after another, the impact of technology is being felt in the beer business as well. The advent of mobile has caused a major shift in consumer behaviors, and we here at XenoPsi wanted to delve into how that has affected purchase decisions at the shelf. To do this, we conducted a study of more than 1,000 beer buyers earlier this year to understand how smartphones were used during the in-store shopping experience.

The most important finding was simply the scope. Almost half of respondents said that they used their phones while selecting a beer. Perhaps this is not a surprise considering the always-on, always-connected society in which we live.

But the effect mobile has on purchase behavior is important and far-reaching. Beer buyers who use their phones at the shelf, as it turns out, spend more time considering their choices, purchase a wider variety of beer and buy beer more frequently than shoppers that don’t use their phones while at the shelf.

So what does this mean for beer marketers who are trying to reach consumers at the moment of truth — when the shopper is standing at the shelf ready to make a purchase?

  • Half of customers are looking at their phones for information today — a number that will only grow over time. For brands and marketers, this means having clearly defined mobile strategies and tactics that provide easy-to-access information when shoppers reach into their pocket or purse for their phone. Search is the number one activity, so tuning SEO and SEM to deliver appropriate results is an important first step. Making sure whatever content and experience provided is optimized for mobile is also critical. Simply shrinking a website for a mobile device is never a good idea – experiences that will succeed need to be built “mobile-first.”
  • Shoppers using their phones are 10 times more likely to purchase a new beer brand every time they shop. They are actively looking for something new and interesting, and merely showing big lifestyle alignments or price discounts are not enough to motivate new brand trial. Marketers need to deliver strong, well-built digital experiences that clearly differentiate their unique selling propositions, as well as find ways to compellingly promote trial of their products.
  • These shoppers spend 59% more time making a decision of which beer to purchase — a total of over six minutes at the shelf — compared to customers not using their smartphones during the buying process. This means optimizing digital marketing tactics to get beyond top-level talking points and getting deep in terms of content. These consumers are interested in getting beyond just the high level talking points of the brand and really digging in.
  • Shoppers using their phones also are 2.5 times more likely to buy more beer. That makes them a very rare subset of shoppers who are both eager to trial new brands and are proven to purchase more quantity. They are looking to multiple online sources to find information. To accommodate, brands and marketers need to go wider and build more than just digital landing pages or social media profiles to capture these highly lucrative purchasers. A range of rich and relevant content sources need to be developed that deliver a mutually reinforcing experience to enhance the selection process.

While it’s clear that technology has caused beer buying behaviors to change, it’s important for brands to stay on top of trends to ensure that they are effectively delivering their message at this last and most critical point in the buying process. Brands that take advantage of these insights will be much better positioned to improve their sales through the end of this calendar year and into next.

MichaelAaron Flicker is president and founder of XenoPsi.

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