The connected consumer
Historically, choices for settings (metals/designs) and gemstones (colour, cut, clarity, and carat weight) were limited, availability was unpredictable, and craftsmanship was reliant on the skill of the artisan or manufacturer. These factors controlled the outcome of the product. Customers would enter an establishment, survey the goods available, select a product from the display cases, perhaps order minor modifications, have the item sized properly, and be on their way. Merchants set up their shops, opened their doors, enticed customers into their establishments, sold their goods, possibly provided service, and closed up shop at the end of the day. If they did this well, they stayed in business. If they did not, their businesses died. Actually co-ordinating services to provide the couple with the best possible occasion was rare, if not impossible!
Enter computers and a generation of folks who mostly grew up with the power of the Internet. They show growing awareness of product availability, environmental changes, social responsibility, worldwide societal differences, and living conditions dissimilar to their own. These individuals can meld evolving tastes with widespread knowledge. Suddenly, customers with new priorities emerge into the retail marketplace! For many established merchants, the speed, degree, and direction of these changes have created challenges to their very relevance. Marketers who adapt to the evolution of communication styles benefit greatly from their proficiency with the new realities of commerce. (See Ed Strapagiel’s analysis at strapagiel.com/retail-sales-analysis-Canada.html.) Few have patience with delays or detours in completing transactions.
Internet-savvy customers are vastly more socially aware than any other group. Correspondingly, they value contributions to and from the community—whether this is through the merchants with whom they deal or each other. They crave connection: personal, community, national, and global. Social media and Internet research possibilities facilitate a great ease of interaction and knowledge acquisition unknown to any previous generations. Communication among a variety of segments within their locale is both easier and more necessary.
Socially adept consumers are focused on health and well-being, both personally and worldwide. They seek unique experiences in the marketplace, customized to meet their needs as well as the needs of others. They rely on interaction with their peers to guide them toward quality merchants and to alert them to scammers waiting to take advantage of them.