Tech, Loneliness & Sales: A Strategy Guide
- Effective sales strategy. Tailoring approaches for digitally-driven consumer behavior insights.
- Lonely consumer exploration. Unpacking solitude’s significant impact on shopping behaviors.
- Marketplace loneliness insight. Prioritizing the impact of loneliness on the marketplace strategies.
As the world races toward more powerful and pervasive technology, its impact is being felt in every part of our individual and corporate lives. From the internet to electronic messaging and communications to social media and smart phones to AI, people live their lives differently and interact with business, government and each other in different ways as well.
Nowhere is this more evident than in the “seller-buyer” relationship. Let’s take a look at how to formulate an effective sales strategy using some consumer behavior insights.
Consumer Behavior Insights: Many Interactions Now Online
Where interactions between sellers and prospective or existing customers once took place in-store or through phone calls to local store managers, they now occur via websites. Customers search, compare, evaluate and often purchase electronically. This interaction has a new moniker: “customer experience” or “CX.” Normally, CX refers to the full range of interactions from the moment a prospective customer contacts a seller’s electronic presence, encompassing both pre- and post-sale interactions, including when questions or issues arise.
Related Article: How to Understand What Your Customers Do and Why They Do It
Tech Evolution Spurs Consumer Loneliness
Much has been written about the many ways in which this electronic process differs from its pre-internet counterpart, but not as much about broader changes in the culture often encouraged by the same technology-based evolution experienced in the producer/seller world. One of these changes is the growing phenomenon of loneliness among the population of potential shoppers and buyers, normally referred to as “consumers” in research publications. That change will require a new and effective sales strategy garnered from consumer behavior insights.
Related Article: Why You Need to Understand Customer Behavior When Tackling CX Feedback
Loneliness Impacts: Beyond Antisocial Behavior
Some individuals turn their loneliness into antisocial behavior like depression, addiction, or crime, but there is a growing body of research into the causes and effects of loneliness in modern culture overall. While this research is voluminous and complex, there are several basic concepts that have been identified to form a picture of what the lonely consumer brings to the transaction and why this should be a part of the CX considerations and how it impacts developing an effective sales strategy with some consumer behavior insights.
Consumer Behavior Insights Show Lonely Shoppers Favor Online Over In-Store
For example, research shows that lonely consumers tend to prefer using the web for searching information and products. This alone sets the stage for making the web a centerpiece of our examination of consumer behavior and an effective sales strategy.
Consistent with this is research suggesting that there is a reduction in consumers’ preference for in-store shopping. Analysis of consumer behavior in age groups also suggests that older consumers continue to prefer in-store shopping while their younger counterparts are more attracted to media-based remote shopping.
Social Exclusion Shapes Shopping Preferences
While a single term, “socially excluded,” is used to describe lonely consumers, the behavior of this group is not of a single type. Indeed, two major categories among socially excluded consumers have been found, each with its own set of behaviors and preferences, each with particular consumer behavior insights:
- Affiliation-motivated consumers who feel lonely and in need of belonging that is lacking in their lives. Research shows that most affiliation-motivated lonely consumers tend to prefer anthropomorphic brands that show humans and human-like activity in their offerings and promotions. These consumers also tend to favor bright, visually dense advertisements and are persuaded more by feelings than critical thinking and analysis of product offerings.
- Individualist consumers who want to stand out as unique and different, embracing their loneliness. They also, research suggests, tend to favor darker, less dense promotions and to take longer to make decisions on brand or item purchases. Additionally, the “loner” consumer tends to avoid mass brand groupings for more minority-endorsed products and sellers.
Age, Well-being Influence Brand Loyalties
Age and well-being factors are also active in consumers’ behavior with older, less healthy consumers favoring the maintenance of relationships with brand groupings, individual salespersons, live or virtual and online celebrities. A major reverse-mortgage firm, for instance, appealing largely to older adults, features celebrity Tom Selleck, himself in his 70s, to promote its brand. While the connection may be coincidental, it is nonetheless effective, and predictable.
Loneliness Predicted to Drive Service Calls
Another example emphasizing the importance of customer service categories and resultant consumer behavior insights is highlighted in a 2021 Gartner press release. It predicts that by 2026, 75% of customer service calls will be from individuals seeking human interaction due to loneliness. Even if this is only partly accurate, the implications for the volume and complexity of customer experience challenges that vendors will encounter are significant. For instance, the release notes that this trend could result in considerable emotional strain for CX representatives as they navigate the emotional needs of lonely customers and decide when and how to end these calls. By 2024, such emotional stress could become the primary reason for CX representative turnover.
Final Thoughts on Consumer Behavior Insights
While there are many more examples of the impact consumer loneliness has on the marketplace and the ability to formulate an effective sales strategy derived from consumer behavior insights, too many for this column, it is safe to say that the loneliness factor should be a major consideration in ongoing CX research and planning of the relationships among those who sell and those who, hopefully, buy. With the continuing virtually exponential changes being wrought by technology, this can’t come too soon.
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