Thanks to smartphones' impact on shopping behavior, today's purchase paths are markedly more complex than the traditional model that sufficed before the world became mobile and consumers became continuously connected to it.
A recent report from Digiday illustrates how complex retail shopping is becoming. The article focuses on the proliferation of dynamic pricing, which has introduced a new level of uncertainty, ephemerality and risk to attempts to adjust prices to maximize revenue and market share.
“The notion of `everyday low prices,’ trumpeted by retailers like Walmart and Target, is being turned on its head,” writes Digiday reporter Suman Bhattacharyya. “In its place, pricing algorithms spit out different figures based on factors that could include time of day, demand, location, competition, and customer buying patterns.” For example, someone using a retailer's app to search for products might see different prices than a shopper in the same retailer’s brick and mortar stores.
The article says that Amazon's algorithm-driven powers of flexible pricing have prompted competitors to introduce dynamic pricing strategies of their own. But there are pitfalls: “While retailers recognize that dynamic pricing is necessary to stay competitive, it comes with the risk of undermining customer trust due to perceptions of price gouging or price discrimination.”
As consumer reality becomes more complex and difficult to pin down in this era of constant consumer connection, a first-party mobile consumer panel whose validated, demographically profiled members can be observed as well as surveyed will bring much-needed stability, reliability and utility to market research. Here are a few examples:
- You can use always-on behavioral data that doubly opted-in mobile consumer panel members authorize MFour to collect, whether it's to focus on their physical journeys in-the-moment, or track them or over weeks and months for insights into their visitation patterns.
- Combining observed location visits with event-triggered surveys lets you communicate with validated shoppers while they’re still in a store, or just after they’ve left. You’ll collect feedback at the Point-of-Emotion®, avoiding the gaps in time between store experience and data collection that allow recall bias to seep in.
- Identify shoppers by the mobile apps they use, allowing you to target surveys to them with 100% accuracy. Ask about their experiences with the app itself, or use mobile app tracking as an identification tool for targeting digital shoppers whose app use validates their interest in the brand.
But remember: no research technology will help you understand connected consumers if your participants are not fully engaged, representative and validated as accurately-profiled real people.
Neither observed data nor survey data will yield quality insights if you’re not observing and surveying the people who are most relevant to the business problem at hand. It may sound counterintuitive, but the solution for understanding a world that presents consumers with complex, multi-channel opportunities to shop and be influenced is to activate research that springs from a single source: an all-mobile panel, organized around a standard-setting mobile research app. Only a demographically diverse market research panel that's consistent with today's always-on, app-dominated information flow can provide the validated representation and proven engagement you need to observe, survey and understand.