Shopping Journeys Are Increasingly Complex, But They’re Also Rich With Opportunities

The key to connecting with customers and inspiring confidence

The deliberate consumer behavior seen over the past year has proved to be anything but a short-term trend. While shoppers’ continued mindfulness and careful decision-making can be partly attributed to inflation, it also stems from the sheer amount of choice and information available to people.

Let’s break down how shoppers continue to be hyperconscious of what and where they buy, and how the progressively complex shopping environment gives marketers a rich opportunity to build consumer confidence and drive profits.

A more complex path to purchase

Today’s shopping experience is hardly straightforward. It blends a variety of modalities, like images and text, online and offline channels, and even different moments, such as someone looking up a product days after discovering it.

Further complicating the customer journey is the fact that people have increasingly embraced mindful spending. According to a Google-commissioned study with Ipsos, one-third of consumers in surveyed markets say they’re now doing more research on purchases to find the best deals (48%), ensure good quality (47%) and make sure their needs are met (45%). With this, consumers are using multiple resources to inform their purchasing decisions.

In fact, the study found that 60% of consumers in surveyed markets are taking six or more actions before deciding to buy a brand or product that’s new to them, including:

  • Comparing the price of similar brands or products (80%)
  • Searching online for reviews and information (75%)
  • Visiting the brand’s or product’s website or app (67%)
  • Going to see the product in-store (66%)
  • Checking online retailers and marketplaces for info and reviews (60%)
  • Checking the return policies (60%)

It makes sense that people would want to research unfamiliar brands or products. However, a recent Google/Ipsos Holiday Shopping Study shows that consumers are even more likely to have done research when purchasing from a brand that they’ve purchased from before than they are from a new brand. In fact, “value for money” (37%) and “high quality” (36%) are the most important reasons for brand choice, regardless of how close a consumer feels to the brand. This means that retailers’ current and even long-term customers could be viewed as potential customers reviewing their options.

Where shoppers go to make informed decisions

In an environment where shoppers have so much choice, retailers can stand out by helping customers feel confident that they’re making the best decisions. This requires being present where and when they’re considering potential purchases. And shoppers have been heading to Google to guide their decision-making processes across the funnel.

Per the Google/Ipsos Holiday Shopping Study 40% of consumers who use Google Search agree it helps them make smart and informed decisions when shopping vs. social media (28%) and online marketplaces (34%).

Even when purchases are inspired elsewhere, Google still has a role to play. For example, according to a Google-commissioned Shopping Survey with Ipsos, 70% of online shoppers who are also active weekly on social media report using Google Search to inform or evaluate purchases that caught their attention on social media.

Trying to navigate the increasing complexity of consumers’ paths to purchase can feel overwhelming, but this is where AI thrives. By putting marketers in the driver’s seat, Google AI solutions can help retailers craft strategies that continuously adapt to these new shopper habits, building confidence with every connection and driving profits along the way.

To be truly helpful to customers, retailers need to use the right tools to become more agile than ever before, instill confidence in shoppers and build strategies that will adapt to their evolving habits.

Elizabeth Wang leads global brand and product marketing for retail ads at Google. In this capacity, Elizabeth is at the forefront of AI development at Google, ensuring it works for businesses of all sizes.