Making a return visit to Bigeye’s podcast, our guest this week is Ksenia Newton of Brandwatch. Ksenia explains how she triangulates different sources of data, including social listening, to derive fresh consumer insights about shopping behaviors in-store and online. Ksenia shares insights from her recent Brandwatch reports and makes some predictions about how inflationary pressures might impact this year’s Holiday shopping season, based on what she’s seeing in research.
Adrian Tennant: Coming up in this episode of IN CLEAR FOCUS:
Ksenia Newton: A lot of the time, if an important brand is not aligned with the consumers’ values, consumers may no longer want to shop with them and they’ll go with somebody else, whether it’s more expensive or not.
Adrian Tennant: You’re listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, fresh perspectives on the business of advertising produced weekly by Bigeye: a strategy-led, full-service creative agency, growing brands for clients globally. Hello, I’m your host, Adrian Tennant, Chief Strategy Officer. Thank you for joining us. The shopping experience was transformed for many of us during the COVID-19 lockdowns. As footfall in physical stores dropped, eCommerce boomed, innovation in retail tech accelerated, and competition among online retailers grew exponentially. Today, things look a bit different. Shoppers are back in physical stores, while direct-to-consumer brands, including Allbirds, Carvana, and Warby Parker are struggling. Understanding the ever-evolving patterns and trends in consumer behavior is essential for retailers and brands who need to forecast their manufacturing needs and plan their inventory months ahead of products actually hitting the shelves. One way of closely monitoring changes in consumer behavior is through social listening, enabled by tools that can track information about products, consumers, and purchase intent in near real-time. Marketers can use social listening platforms to understand consumer sentiment and improve their brand’s presence on social networks. Making a return visit to IN CLEAR FOCUS, today’s guest is Ksenia Newton, Marketing Content Specialist at the digital consumer intelligence company, Brandwatch. Ksenia describes herself as part social analyst and part writer, deriving insights from social data and turning those into helpful reports and data-driven stories. To talk about current retail trends and what the future might hold for omnichannel commerce, Ksenia is joining us today from New York City. Ksenia, welcome back to IN CLEAR FOCUS!
Ksenia Newton: Hey Adrian, thank you for having me.
Adrian Tennant: For listeners who didn’t hear our conversation last year, could you explain what Brandwatch is, and the types of clients it serves?
Ksenia Newton: Yeah, absolutely. So I guess I’ll give you the company spiel first. Brandwatch is the world’s premier social suite, empowering thousands of the world’s most admired companies to understand and engage with customers at the speed of social. And to make this line a little bit more digestible for the listeners, what we do is we scope the internet over a hundred million different online publicly available sources on different topics depending on what we’re trying to cover. And using our technology, not only can you scope the internet, you can then segment that data and kind of craft consumer trends, or really understand and answer questions that you have about your consumers at a speed of social, because social media data is available in real-time. So yeah, our products combine a couple of different things such as AI technology, as well as social media listening and social media management tools.
Adrian Tennant: As I mentioned in the introduction, your title is Marketing Content Specialist. What does your role at Brandwatch entail?
Ksenia Newton: Yeah. you can think of me as a data journalist. I’m part analyst, part content writer. So I do use our proprietary technology to scope the internet depending on what the topic I’m working on at the moment in time. And then I analyze that data. Build trends, write reports, guides, blog posts, and sell those stories, data stores that brands really like to hear. yeah.
Adrian Tennant: You recently wrote and presented a report for Brandwatch, which explores how consumer behaviors have changed since COVID-19. Your report identifies five key trends, presenting both opportunities and challenges to retailers. So before we talk about the findings, Ksenia, could you explain how you obtain the data for your retail-focused reports?
Ksenia Newton: Yeah, absolutely. Actually, the consumer trend report that you mentioned is by far, one of my favorite ones. It took a lot of work and we ended up involving our existing customers. We have a Brandwatch community whom we reach out to and ask, besides doing some initial research, we also reached out to our community and asked them what are the different topics we could cover that would help them their job probably. the data was obtained using our proprietary technology, Brandwatch consumer research. And I used quite a few queries or search strings if you will, the number was 23 or 24. And we also use social panels, which I think is very important to mention, like it’s becoming one of my favorite, proprietary tech that we have in fact, because it allows us to analyze different groups of people based on certain criteria. So we use that to analyze different generations. You can also use them to analyze people according to certain interests or their job titles and so on and so forth. Yeah.
Adrian Tennant: The first trend I’d like to discuss with you is retail therapy. Could you tell us what this is and how you’re seeing consumer behaviors being impacted by it?
Ksenia Newton: Yeah. It’s a great question. Such an interesting topic to discover actually. As you know, the pandemic kind of accelerated the shift to shopping online and because consumers who were stuck at home tended to shop a little bit more. So we saw a lot of topics covered, such as delivery payment options, and checkout process that consumers discussed during that time. But also because retailers realized consumers are shopping a lot more, they have a little bit more disposable income. We were talking about 2021 and people spent a lot more time shopping online. Retailers did their best to kind of optimize that experience for them. So this is what we saw in terms of retail or shopping experience that consumers just relied on the delivery and, kind of discuss the existing payment options and checkout process and so on, so forth. But kind of the downside of that, that we saw online, is consumers a lot of the time discussed how it’s negatively impacting them because some of them literally stated, and I’ll quote this tweet because I thought it was very important. the person literally said, “Why do I feel like I need to order something every single day?” And, that tweet received a lot of engagement because a lot of people, a lot of consumers feel the same way just because everything is catered to them. The delivery option you can choose from, you know, one day delivery, you can, do the curbside. You can go to the store and so on and so forth because, they had so many different options. They felt the pressure that they had to shop every single day. And kind of that shopping behavior has probably become a problem for a lot of consumers and that’s, and because in a way, they used that behavior to kind of cope with depression that they had last year.
Adrian Tennant: Next, could you talk to us about the window shopping trend?
Ksenia Newton: Yeah, that’s also a very interesting trend. Again, last year when people were still kind of homebound, we had very little to do, right? We were online at all times and a lot of the time we were just shopping online. So, the window shopping trend online, we saw two different, topics there. People would just add things to the shopping cart, pretend that they have a place to wear clothes or shoes or whatever it might be. and then just exiting the shopping cart and never really finalizing that transaction. So there are two reasons that we saw why that was happening. One trend is because consumers were still very much kind of concerned about their financial security. and then didn’t necessarily want to spend that money and they wanted to save up. But the added trend was, it was wishful thinking if you will, consumers never really intended to finalize that purchase at all. But what’s important to know about window shopping online is it actually is costing brands a lot of money. So one of the recent research that I read stated that about 58 to 84 percent of shopping carts are abandoned online. So you can only think about how many billions of dollars they can be translated into. so with the first trend, with consumers trying to save up, there is really not much brands can do. We’re just going to have to hope the economy is going to get better and, consumers will regain that kind of confidence, when it comes to spending. But with the second trend, When people are exiting shopping cars, there is something brands can actually do. and we were talking about optimizing further shopping experience for consumers, such as making very easy, updating the UX experience. And these are all the things. What I’m mentioning is everything that we saw throughout our research, right? People actually mentioned confusing, UX experience, not understanding how to properly find where is the shopping cart. And actually my personal experience that I, I purchased something the other day and I write about this and I took me a minute to figure out how do I actually finalize my purchase? And, I would love to let the brand know I’m not going to mention them, but I’d love to let them know that they’re really confusing me and I’ve been a loyal customer for a long time. so yeah, so this is something that brands can actually do as really trying to optimize that shopping experience such as UX, checkout process, limited payment options. Actually, it’s the other thing that we saw online as well. A lot of the time consumers complain how there are just not enough options for them to choose from. For example, the brand only features credit card, maybe PayPal or something else. But there are other payment options that consumers are looking for these days. And that’s also something that brands can really optimize for to hopefully avoid this shopping cart abandonment trend.
Adrian Tennant: Last time you were a guest on, IN CLEAR FOCUS, we talked about the impact of emerging technologies on consumer behavior. In your recent report, you highlight shopper’s expectations being raised when it comes to virtual try-on, can you unpack this for us?
Ksenia Newton: Yeah, absolutely. Going back to what I was just talking about, how retailers and eCommerce brands tried really hard to cater to consumers who were home bound and really trying to optimize their experience when it comes to delivery. When it comes to checkout process, virtual try-on was anotherway for retailers to kind of hopefully get those consumers to buy, right? And we saw a lot of interest, relating to the topic of virtual try-on online. So there’s definitely the search spin up. People are looking up virtual Tryon. Consumers are curious. Are probably lean towards brands that offer that type of experience on the website. And, we saw a lot of happy mentions from consumers saying how much they enjoyed their experience with a brand when they offered that particular feature. And one, we, I will reference specifically it was L’Oreal I believe the brand, and a consumer was saying how happy they were with their experience with purchasing lipstick off of the website, because the website offered particular shopping experience for them. They were able to find the right color without going to the store. But the downside also is now the expectations are very high and consumers are looking for that type of experience. So when they’re promised that, for example, there is a virtual try-on option or feature on the website and they go in and it’s only offered to specific type of users, they’re very unhappy and they take to social media to really talk about it. And I’m referring to a specific brand that only offers virtual try-on for users who have an Apple device versus those who have say Samsung device. When it comes to consumer expectations, they’re really high right now because they were sold this idea and now brands really have to keep up.
Adrian Tennant: During COVID, some US brands adapted to the lockdowns and store closures by introducing live streaming. But this summer, in addition to Meta’s announcement that live shopping on Facebook will end in October ,TikTok backed away from its plans to expand live stream shopping capabilities to the US. Could you give us a quick history of live streaming and what the Brandwatch data is telling you about social commerce?
Ksenia Newton: Yeah. Great question. So live streaming is another convenient way to shop online if you will, which I haven’t tried. I’ll be very honest have yet to try live streaming even though by far is one of the biggest trends right now when it comes to retail. The trend kicked off in China back in 2016, with the arrival of Alibaba and Taobao. And now it’s seen tremendous growth all around the world, not without the help of K-pop stars like BTS and Got7 and the likes. From what we’ve seen online, consumers really enjoy this type of experience. They join in these live streams. That pretty much look like shows, right? they get to be entertained. They get to interact with their favorite celebrities and host because it’s all live and they also get to buy products that are recommended by their favorite again, celebrities and icons. So it sounds like an amazing experience. from what I know, the global video streaming market side is expected to reach and surpass $330 billion by 2030. That sounds like a large number. And I actually can’t wait to try it myself. I feel like now I’m lagging behind. I have not tried live streaming, but it’s huge. Absolutely huge. And people love it!
Adrian Tennant: Let’s take a short break. We’ll be right back after these messages.
Tim McCormack: I’m Tim McCormack, Bigeye’s VP of Media and Analytics. Every week, IN CLEAR FOCUS addresses topics that impact our work as media professionals, often inspired by data points reported in consumer research studies. At Bigeye, we put audiences first. For every engagement, through our own research, we develop a deep understanding of our client’s prospects and customers – analyzing their attitudes, behaviors, and motivations. We distill this data into actionable insights to inspire creative brand-building and persuasive activation campaigns – with strategic, cost-efficient media placements. If you’d like to know more about how to put Bigeye’s audience-focused media and analytics to work for your brand, please contact us. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adrian Tennant: Each month, in partnership with our friends at Kogan Page, The Bigeye Book Club features interviews with authors who are experts in marketing, consumer research, and customer experience. Our featured book for September is Using Behavioral Science in Marketing: Drive customer action and loyalty by prompting instinctive responses by Nancy Harhut. IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners can save 20 percent on a print or electronic version of the book with exclusive promo code BIGEYE20. This code is valid for all products and pre-orders and applies to Kogan Page’s free e-book offer. To order your copy of Using Behavioral Science in Marketing, go to KoganPage.com – that’s K O G A N, P A G E dot com.
Adrian Tennant: Welcome back. I’m talking with Ksenia Newton, marketing content specialist at Brandwatch, about retail trends in 2022. The fifth key trend you identify in your report is elevated expectations around delivery and fulfillment. Ksenia, what are the implications for retailers?
Ksenia Newton: Logistics plays a huge role in building a solid reputation for any brand out there. And it’s been really hard for brands, right? Retail and e-commerce – the expectations that consumers have right now, as I already mentioned, are very high. So for retailers and e-commerce companies, it’s really important to expand their delivery options if possible. Because consumers want to have what they purchased, they want to have it right now. They want to have it on the day they need to have it and they can’t wait for it for a month. that means that all these brands need to expend their delivery options, not just offering delivery to your house, but maybe, setting up, pick up location or pickup point or curbside pickup, whatever it might be,the focus needs to be on delivered because consumers are really expecting that convenience level right now. . and the other thing that we saw online as well is that it was also a tweet that I’m going to quote, because it was very important to gain a lot of engagement. A person literally said, “if it’s sold out, please take it off the website, thank you.” and, one of my favorite tweets from that research, with 300,000 likes, you can tell that it resonated with consumers, quite a bit. Got a lot of engagement because consumers don’t want to spend time on the website looking for that product that they’re really want to purchase, just to realize that product is off, is not in stock anymore. So make it easier for consumer, please make sure you’re update your website so consumers don’t have to waste their time because not only they will waste their time, it will also affect how they view that brand moving forward. They may not want to shop with you again, right? And the other thing that we saw, I guess again, when it comes to elevated expectations and going back to the payment that I just talked about, placing an order and payment methods, something, again, that’s very important. I just did a whole report on the financial sector and kind of what are the most popular payment methods out there. And what I saw is, sure, credit cards and debit cards are still very, very popular, but payment methods like Buy Now, Pay Later, Klarna, and AfterPay and ClearPay have been gaining popularity rapidly. So consumers are looking for different ways to pay for their purchases. And with Buy Now, Pay Later, specifically, it allows you to split the purchase, the larger purchase and pay in installments, taking that pressure off a little bit. And then, you know, potentially, it will become kind of a differentiating point. As a consumer myself, I just used Buy Now, Pay Later to pay for a larger purchase, which was a mattress. And it really helped me personally, that I could just break down that price and just not have to look at this one large number. And it did help me in a way to choose between two brands as well. So this is something that we’re seeing consumers talk a lot about, online as well, Buy Now, Pay Later specifically, and adding additional payment options to the existing payment options on the website, because as you know, if your consumers can’t pay with the payment options that you have listed on the website, the business might lose their revenue. So there’s that.
Adrian Tennant: Inflation has forced many consumers to shop in off price and discount stores. According to data from In Market during the period from October, 2021 to June, 2022, average spending on grocery items rose 71% at discount retailers. For some context, spending on those same items in traditional grocery stores fell 5% in the same period. Dollar General plans to offer fresh produce in 10,000 of its stores over the next few years. Ksenia, do you think Dollar General is right to bet that cost conscious shoppers will stick with discount retailers in the long-term?
Ksenia Newton: That’s a great question. I’ve actually, I’ve not heard of dollar general doing this. I might, if I see one, I might have to check it out. What I can say is from our research, we saw that the spending levels remain per pandemic, which means consumers are spending the same or a little bit more. But also consumers are interested in coupons the same, because one of the terms that I actually heard of on the radio yesterday, depressed consumer sentiment when it comes to spending, I had to write it down because I thought it was brilliant. so the sentiment is still sort of a depressed when it comes to spending and consumers are staying conscious and I imagine everybody is going to try to save up, right. If there is an opportunity, people are looking for coupons and that’s why,there is some potential there,I do think that consumers might stick to the discount brands that they’ve been shopping with for a long time.some consumers could all depends on the audience because other consumers might want to lean something towards brands that actually align with their values. And that’s something that we also saw as part of our research that a A lot of the time, if an important brand, is not aligned with the consumer values, consumers may no longer want to shop with them and they’ll go with somebody else, whether it’s more expensive or not.
Adrian Tennant: As prices rise, customer loyalty is weakening. 38% of the consumer brand categories analyzed by data firm, Brand Keys are experiencing declining loyalty. E-marketer recently reported on this highlighting some of the ways that rewards programs can help counter the trend. They cited a study from Salesforce, which found that 61% of consumers would use loyalty programs more often if they automatically applied rewards. And 44% would do so if they offered simpler terms and conditions. Ksenia, what are you seeing in the world of loyalty programs?
Ksenia Newton: Yeah, it’s a great question, uh, something that we should probably unpack in our next report. In fact, I think it’s a very interesting topic. Personally, I have a lot of I’m part of a lot of different membership programs. Of course, I’m a consumer and I like rewards. I think rewards programs are here to stay because who doesn’t like to save money? But again, consumers are moving away from brands if those brands don’t represent their values, if you will. And we’ve seen that quite a bit with consumers moving from shopping at one store to going shopping with smaller, local stores, local farmer’s market, for example, if we were to talk about groceries. And I see this in New York, specifically where consumers encourage each other to shop with their local farmer’s market versus going to a brand supermarket, for example. I think that’s going to play a bigger role because Today’s consumers are very focused on social matters. So if brands are not aligned with where they stand, I do think it doesn’t matter whether they’re discounted brands or not. Consumers might move to other brands to shop with.
Adrian Tennant: How do you think inflation will shape the upcoming holiday shopping season? Will consumers buy even earlier to avoid price hikes?
Ksenia Newton: One of the things, one of the trends that we saw in our research, we call it Revenge Spending. And that means consumers who were stuck at home because of the ongoing pandemic. Now that they’re out now that the restrictions have loosen up a little bit and they have a little bit of money to spend, they are now spending in revenge for all the waste of time. So that’s one of the trends that we saw, that I’m pretty sure is going to affect how consumers shop during the holiday season. The other trend, again, going back to Buy Now, Pay Later, I think it is very important that consumers these days have an opportunity to break down that price and maybe, between purchases something right away and paying for it right away. It’s too expensive. They can’t afford it. They now have an opportunity to pay for it over time, which I do think is going to positively impact sales in my personal opinion. So it’s a great option to attract consumers who might be hesitant to spend that money during the Holidays. And, another thing that I saw in the recent research around the financial sector is consumers are very enthusiastic when it comes to the topic of spending and payment options, they’re constantly researching. So it doesn’t sound like people are not going to buy. It sounds like they’re looking for better ways to shop whether it’s coupons, discounts, whether it’s buy now pay later or different payment options or whatever it might be, consumers are looking to spend. And then something that I also saw, I’m part of this Facebook group it’s called secret. I don’t know, it’s no longer secret, but it is a private, Christmas focus group on Facebook, where about a month ago people started reporting how they finalized their Christmas shopping. Again, and I know I mentioned this last time in our, podcast, but this time around, people are spending a lot more money and they buy multiple presents A again, this isn’t based on any data that I saw using our technology. Right. This is something that I literally scope from just reading through comments in this Facebook group. People purchase multiple presents per person, again, it may not be representative the rest of the population, but it also doesn’t sound like they’re trying to save up either.
Adrian Tennant: So Ksenia, what are you working on at the moment?
Ksenia Newton: Yeah, I’m super excited on this project actually it’s called The State of Social. It is going to be a mega report, featuring over 560 different brands and me analyzing over 530 million brand mentions. And it’s going to be really focused on finding the right benchmarks, trends, and talking points, and best practices for social media marketers out there. We’re analyzing 15 different industries and we’re going to really try to find what are the best practices, benchmarks, and so on. So that every social media marketer out there can actually use to build a successful social media strategy, for next year. Super excited, I think is going to be really a guiding life for everyone. And, it’s currently over 70 pages. please go to our website about a month from now when we publish it is going to be brilliant, I promise you!
Adrian Tennant: Ksenia, if IN CLEAR FOCUS listeners would like to learn more about you, where can they find you?
Ksenia Newton: Yeah, absolutely, you’re more than welcome to shoot me an email at KNewton@Brandwatch.com or send me a request on LinkedIn. happy to answer any questions if you have, if I don’t have an answer, I might be able to research that. That’s what I do!
Adrian Tennant: And if people are interested in learning more about Brandwatch, where should they go?
Ksenia Newton: Check out our website, www.Brandwatch.com and you’ll find a lot more information there. You can also go to our resources page. We have a lot of different things from webinars before it’s guides, blog posts, best practices. You name it, we have it, but check it out. You will not regret.
Adrian Tennant: Ksenia, thank you very much for being our guest again this week on IN CLEAR FOCUS.
Ksenia Newton: Thank you so much for having me.
Adrian Tennant: Thanks to my guest this week, Ksenia Newton, Marketing Content Specialist at Brandwatch. You’ll find a transcript with links to the resources we discussed today on the IN CLEAR FOCUS page at Bigeyeagency.com. Just select ‘podcast’ from the menu. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider following us wherever you listen to podcasts. Thank you for listening to IN CLEAR FOCUS, produced by Bigeye. I’ve been your host, Adrian Tennant. Until next week, goodbye.