Nearly half of US consumers miss in-store shopping

But a growing number are demanding AR experiences.

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As vaccines roll out and public places open back up, consumers who spent more time on digital channels over the last 16+ months will be looking for a techy nudge to get them in-store. 35% of US consumers would go out of their way to visit a store if there was some kind of interactive virtual service tied to the experience, according to new findings from Snapchat.

The company teamed up with Foresight Factory’s data methodologies and existing trends intelligence, as well as follow-up surveys and interviews — so the predictions aren’t just derived from behavior on Snapchat.

Mobile shopping. One in three US consumers say mobile is their preferred way to shop. They aren’t just showing off a new purchase to their friends on social, however. They’re actively gathering information, and likely making contactless payments. Six in 10 millennials won’t ever go shopping without their phones.

Is IRL shopping possible online? A sizable group of online shoppers aren’t willing to buy certain categories of products they can’t see, touch or try out. It remains an open question how many of these consumers (four in 10 overall) are willing to close the sale if virtual try-on experiences answer some of their questions.

AR demand is growing. The study predicts that over the next five years demand for AR experiences will grow in the US from 30% to 41%. This keeps pace with a growing number of Gen Z consumers.

Shoppers seek in-store, for now. Nearly half of US consumers say they missed the social aspect of in-store shopping, and one in five say they would visit a store if experts were on hand to offer advice. This seems like a demand that savvy marketers can fulfill through social media messaging, even when shoppers are at the physical store (with phones in their hands).

Why we care. Big brands are executing substantial campaigns on social media platforms that cover both ends of the marketing funnel. Users are finding interesting ways to discover entire new categories of products, on the one end, as well as being able to purchase products seamlessly with buy buttons that make social media “social commerce.”

As these platforms evolve, marketers need to pay attention to specific traits that are native to the unique environment on the platform and among its community of users. If you look at the evolution of Snapchat, it’s easy to see why its users are so quick to integrate AR elements in a natural way in their interactions with other users. But these same extra layers of audio and visuals might not seem as authentic on Facebook or Pinterest. You may find a different audience that’s still a relevant one to your brand, but you’ll do best by engaging them differently depending on which channel you’re using.

About the author

Chris Wood
Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country's first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on "innovation theater" at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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