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Event Recap: Buy Buy To Shopping As You Know It: Hello To The Future of Consumerism

At the newly launched AMP Insights Lab, our team of doctors, scientists and doctor-scientists* have been diligently working behind the scenes to uncover the latest trends in technology and consumer behavior. Recently, they've been working on a proprietary quantitative/qualitative study titled Behind the Buy, which explores the path to purchase within the digital space, across 500 consumers. The full study will be available in the coming weeks so check back on AMPAgency.com and our blog to learn more.

For this event, Allison Marsh (VP, Consumer Insights) and Jason Rivera (Director, Consumer Insights) took us through some topline findings of the study.

Today's average U.S. consumer will take in 12 hours of information, (not counting personal conversations) every day. 12 hours! Think about that for a second. It seems like the only time we're not consuming media is during bathroom breaks and while we're sleeping. No, wait, scratch that. And after watching Inception this summer, I bet we're probably on borrowed time there, too.

Our study explores five key product categories (fashion, consumer electronics, food and beverage, health and beauty and baby). What we've noticed is that a large number of consumers are doing research across the board, even for seemingly low-impact categories (food and beverage: 36%; health and beauty: 31%). This dynamic has made us think carefully about consumer influences and data resources while reevaluating the flow of the traditional purchase cycle.

CONSUMER INFLUENCES

There are many influences that weigh-in on purchase decisions, the importance of which, are usually category-specific. There are some interesting qualitative data-points that are worth noting. For example, In food and beverage, 'taste'? is more of a priority than 'natural / organic'?. Sorry, organic-Spam, maybe try again in a few years. It also depends on where consumers are in the purchase cycle. In the fashion category, 'trends'? may inform consumers' decisions but 'cost'? and 'fit'? will ultimately close the sale (each influence outweighs 'trends'? by nearly a 2:1 margin).

It's no huge surprise that to learn that these influences are refined through many different sources of information (blogs, expert reviews, in-store representatives, brand websites, competitor websites, magazines, consumer reviews, and opinions of friends and family, among others). What our research has confirmed is the thought that there's no single source of information and the majority of consumers are overwhelmingly taking into account several information sources before making the purchase. The good news for brands is that there are many detours on the path to purchase and each one represents an opportunity to influence consumers' decisions along the way.

THE NEW PATH TO PURCHASE

Traditionally we've thought of the path to consumer evangelism as the following: Awareness -> Consideration -> Purchase -> Loyalty -> Evangelism. But today, the first couple of steps have become much more complex as more information and data has empowered consumer decision-making.

At the Consideration phase, consumers are identifying a 'need state'? (ex. 'I need a new digital camera'?). Once that need state has been identified, that consumer then engages in 'passive consideration'? where many brands are considered. As that consumer does research, they may refine their need state further (ex. 'well, I don't need something that is going to take 25MP photos, I just want something small to take candid family photos'?). Once their need state is refined and more research is uncovered, the consumer enters the 'active awareness'? phase, where very few brands are considered. Once the consumer identifies the best match from the various aforementioned influences, the purchase is ultimately made.

According to McKinsey's The Consumer Decision Journey, after the purchase is made, the consumer follows a 'loyalty loop'? based on expectations from the previous purchasing cycle. Therefore, additional brands are still considered during the next purchase cycle with brand loyalty tied to how positive/negative the previous experience was. Somewhere, a Product Manager for Cheeseburger-in-a-Can weeps.

EMERGING CONSUMER ENGAGEMENTS

Our team shares a few interesting examples of emerging consumer engagements. Our first example was 'haul videos'? (or the male, tech-equivalent called 'unboxing'?, way manlier). You may remember our take on haul videos from a piece we did with FOX25 last month. Current TV also has a great take on this fad as well. Yes, people are actually doing this.

Author's Note: I bought an iPhone case last month and sifted through a handful of unboxing videos before realizing that the sounds of overgrown teenagers breathing heavily while they futilely fumble with vacuum-sealed packaging is a hell that I wish upon no man (or woman).

Another interesting consumer engagement is the cartoonishly-named Stickybits. Stickybits is a platform that joins barcodes with social media behavior allowing users to attach messages through both new and existing barcodes. Just imagine being at the grocery store and scanning a new flavor of Pretzel Crisps to find out what other consumers had to say about it. Or better yet, scanning the barcode to find a BOGO offer for use at checkout. Or BOTH! The mass adoption isn't quite there yet, but these are all very-possible applications of this new technology.

Not futurey-enough for you? Let's take a look at what the wunderkinds at MIT are up to'?¦nothing big, just a hugely-ambitious, environment-aware, interactive, projection-based user interface. The technology is called Sixth Sense and it aims to seamlessly integrate the digital and physical world. Crazy stuff. Oh and it's open source too, FTW.

Finally, is there anything more entertaining than old videos from yesteryear that tried to predict the future? Always a good source of unintentional comedy. Our team showed a video from the 60's that dreamed up wacky consumer engagements with retailers and peer-to-peer communication. Actually, it's not as far off base as you may think. Check out what Don Draper and friends thought the future would be like.

Thanks to all who attended our event earlier this week. Stay tuned for our upcoming study Behind the Buy, slated to be released at the end of the month.

* Job titles have not been verified.

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In the world of social media, trends, features, and even platforms can seemingly become a phenomenon overnight. One night, you go to bed after scrolling your Instagram feed, and the next morning you wake up to a brand new, intriguing yet unfamiliar app called TikTok. It doesn't take long for this app to surpass all others as the most downloaded app of all time with over 1 billion active users across the world.  Flash forward to the present day where Instagram - and almost every other popular social platform, for that matter - are scrambling to keep up with this new app. So, what makes TikTok so attractive, and can Instagram compete with their look-a-like competitive feature, IG Reels? Well, let’s dive in!    Why is short-form video so popular all of the sudden?  Before we talk about Reels and TikTok, let’s first address why the short-form video nature of both platforms caught on so quickly. For a long while, social media marketers have strategized their content around the fact that the attention span of our followers is short- and we mean short. According to Facebook, marketers only have 0.25 seconds to capture a user’s attention before they keep scrolling.  With that in mind, snackable video content became the name of the game for brands and content creators and opened the door to a scrappier style of content - especially for brands who had typically seen video content as an expensive, high-production-value ordeal.  The lower production value required for a high-performing Reels or TikTok video was key for brands. That, paired with the fact that these platforms became widely popular during a pandemic when creative teams were developing content out of their own homes. Additionally, it opened up a new door for brands and content creators to turn out quick-hit, entertaining content.    What’s the difference between Reels and TikTok?  Now that we’ve covered why short-form video content is so popular across both Reels and TikTok, let’s discuss the key differences between these platforms that have affected how they’ve been adopted by social users.    Reels TikTok The Takeaway The User Experience To navigate to Reels, users must first open the Instagram app, where they will be shown their regular feed from accounts they follow. Then, they will select the Reels icon from the bottom menu to start viewing Reels in a TikTok-esque feed of content that’s been curated for the user by Instagram’s algorithm.  When a user opens the TikTok app, they are immediately shown a curated feed of TikToks the platform’s algorithm has chosen - AKA the “FYP” (for you page). The full screen and vertical swipe feed create a frictionless user experience that makes it as easy as possible to enjoy the app.  TikTok’s unique user experience puts short-form video content curated just for you at the center stage, creating a seamless and simple way to enjoy content. On the other hand, Reels is only a feature of Instagram among many others.  Music & Video Editing Tools Due to copyright concerns, Instagram business accounts only have access to Reels’ library of royalty-free tracks, while content creators have access to a larger library full of popular copyrighted music. While Reels does offer video editing tools, they can be tricky to navigate and their filters and effects are not very extensive.  Music and sound are the cornerstones of a TikTok video, and the app has nailed this feature with its extensive library of music and user-generated sounds available to content creators and brands alike. On top of that, TikTok’s video editing features are user-friendly, and they offer a wide variety of filters and video effects.  TikTok is the clear winner when it comes to music and video editing tools given their extensive music and sound library and editing capabilities.  Platform Purpose   Instagram, home of Reels, is a network-oriented app, where users are used to seeing content from people they are familiar with and have chosen to follow. However, in the Reels section of the app, it takes on a content-oriented approach, serving users content from people they don’t know.  At its core, TikTok is a content-oriented app. It normalized the experience of seeing content from people you don’t know in your feed based on your usage history and learned preference.  While both platforms' short-form video features are content-oriented, Instagram is known for being a network-oriented app. Instagram has offered a similar user experience through their “Explore” page since 2012, so this balance between content and network orientation is something they’ve been teetering for a while.  The Algorithm  Instagram has been less transparent about the Reels algorithm, however, it has provided a few best practices for success. For example, Instagram recommends that Reels content is entertaining, fun, and inspiring, uses the app’s creative editing tools, and leverages the music or sounds provided. Instagram has also shared that content that is visibly recycled from other apps (e.g. contains a TikTok watermark) will also be deprioritized by the algorithm.  Beyond all of the features listed above, TikTok’s arguably largest advantage is its algorithm. The platform’s parent company, ByteDance, has been very transparent about the large investment they made to design the app’s algorithm that picks up on users' personalized interests in record time, contributing to the effortless and enjoyable nature of consuming content on the app.  Overall, TikTok’s algorithm is the first of its kind and unlike anything we’ve ever seen in the social space, which ultimately contributes to its success. We don’t know as much about Instagram’s Reels algorithm, but we can assume it attempts to mimic the TikTok experience while staying true to the app and attempting to keep Reels content unique.     How Brands Can Be Successful on Reels and TikTok To be successful on Reels and TikTok, brand content shouldn’t feel like brand content. Brands need to get scrappy and creative to grab user’s attention and not stand out like a sore thumb among the style of content shared by individual creators. With that in mind, both Reels and TikTok require a unique content strategy within the brand’s larger social strategy. However, that inevitably requires extra time and effort. To decide which of these platforms to begin focusing your efforts on, ask yourself these two questions:  Which platform is your audience on currently?  Which one can you commit to doing consistently?  While there are many benefits of TikTok as discussed above in our comparison of the two platforms, many brands have already established themselves and have grown a following on Instagram, and therefore beginning to utilize Reels has a low barrier to entry. While cross-posting between the two platforms is an option we’ve seen numerous brands take, a carefully thought out strategy for each channel your brand has a presence on is more important than simply having content out there. When it comes to a brand’s social presence, quality is always preferred over quantity.  The social world is ever-evolving - and at the end of the day, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to which platform is best - the answer is unique to your brand’s priorities and your team’s bandwidth to thoughtfully manage the channels on which your brand appears.