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Understanding shopper behavior to position direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands for success

Explore the impact of the increase in “sport shoppers” and discover insights into how your DTC brand can thrive with partnerships while still capturing the thrill of shopping for consumers.

Jennifer Zhang, General Manager, Greater China
Jennifer Zhang
General Manager, Greater China
Read time: 5 mins

Avid shoppers might argue that bargain hunting should be an official Olympic event. Similar to elite athletes, these niche shoppers implement a game plan to beat out other competitive shoppers to secure a win — a great deal. 

A study by San Francisco State University Professors Kathy O’Donnell and Judi Strebel and Queensland University of Technology Business School Professor Gary Mortimer defines these groups of consumers as “sport shoppers.” Sport shoppers include consumers with the economic resources to pay full price but bargain hunts simply for the thrill. 

Today, certain factors contribute to the abundant supply of goods and services, including: 

  • Adequate production capacity 
  • International shopping channels that ship worldwide 
  • Bountiful online shopping choices
     

Sticking to traditional marketing strategies prevents brands from effectively adapting to these new business conditions, encouraging marketing to evolve and look for new avenues for business growth. 

Businesses need to figure out how to leverage shopping excitement to increase consumer intent to convert and boost sales — ultimately leading to success. Jennifer Zhang, impact.com’s General Manager for Greater China, dives deeper into understanding the consumer behavior of sport shoppers and how partnerships can enhance the thrill of bargain hunting while simultaneously driving business growth.

Q: What do you think of “sport shoppers”?

A: Modern consumers focus more on the shopping experience. They obtain greater pleasure from the shopping process than from the goods purchased.

Spontaneous consumer buying behavior

Unplanned impulse buying governs much of consumer behavior. For example, a consumer hits a store on Black Friday for a facial cleansing cream but ends up with a cart full of items bought simply because the deals were too good to miss. 

Or perhaps they see lovely handicrafts at a stall and take a dozen home merely to qualify for the “buy ten, get two free” promotion. Why not? These bargain-hunting trophies are brag-worthy. 

Livestream shopping also makes the shopping experience more entertaining and immersive. Hosts trigger impulse buys by making compelling product pitches and bargaining for better discounts and greater inventory on behalf of the audience. Like Livestream shopping, influencers offer content and favorable discounts that are tempting enough for consumers to make an impulse buying decision. 

This consumer behavior is increasingly common, proving that shopping is becoming a sport. Unintentional consumer behavior leads to consumers wandering across multiple channels and, therefore, beyond the reach of traditional advertising.

Consumer willingness to buy is malleable 

Consumers get a kick out of trying something new or different. They are as willing to share their own experiences as they are to share the experiences of others. Consumers gravitate towards recommendations from influencers and other affiliate partners in articles, photos, videos, and social media platforms because they crave authenticity. 

They trust and find more value from a friend’s “This product is a must-try” over traditional advertising. If a product or service is truly good, consumers are more than willing to recommend it to others. If it turns out to be a disappointment, at least they had fun trying it out. Tapping into key opinion leaders (KOLs), like influencers, bloggers, and affiliate publishers, allows brands a fresh way to attract and connect with new customers.

Q: From your perspective, how can direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands view and find sport shoppers?

A: Sport shoppers should receive priority attention as they are more likely to boost sales. DTC brands need to improve brand awareness through diversified partnership marketing programs to succeed in today’s market.

Establishing a  strong brand personality

According to a Kantar report, three ingredients comprise brand power: 

  1. Meaningful: Meeting functional and emotional needs in relevant ways
  2. Different: Being distinctive or trend-setting
  3. Salient: coming easily to mind in a buying situation

Businesses that wish to tap into the experience economy and the DTC market must first transform themselves from advertisers into brands. Establishing a clear and memorable brand identity is critical for competitive advantage, which allows brands to promote themselves in the most concise and effective ways while impressing and attracting more consumers. 

Along with an established brand identity, brand endorsements and influence can help build consumer trust, especially in sectors like beauty, health care, and consumer electronics.

For example, let’s say consumers have discovered a new product from one of your partners. They are interested and want to buy. However, as they search for the product before making a purchase decision, they cannot find any information about it, such as brand details, manufacturer, or dealers. 

Their shopping enthusiasm immediately chilled. If publishers, influencers, and other affiliate partners endorse your product, spotlighting unique and remarkable characteristics, sport shoppers will be more motivated to purchase.

Diversify your marketing portfolio with partnership marketing 

Sport shoppers are everywhere. Even rational shoppers sometimes buy on a whim when encouraged by a marketing campaign. Diversify your marketing channels by working with affiliates, influencers, and other partners, increases brand awareness, and concurrently drive traffic and conversion. 

The impact.com partnership management platform helps brands take advantage of all types of emerging referral-based partners and grow their business through partnership automation technology. A diversified partnerships strategy remains essential to improving brand image and increasing awareness.

Brands that deliver the best customer experience along the sales funnel gain the competitive edge that enables them to stand out in a crowded market. 

There is a reason shopping is often referred to as retail therapy, as it brings a feeling of happiness to consumers. As a result, other forms of marketing, like livestreaming ecommerce, have experienced tremendous growth in China. 

Top Chinese ecommerce influencers Jiaqi (Austin) Li and Weiya (Viya) have revitalized online shopping with an ingredient of optimized customer experience. Happy customers are not just buying stuff. They see products in detail and interact with livestreamers to answer their questions in real-time.

Succeed with the right partnership management platform

The shopping experience remains at the core of DTC brand’s success. Brands forge partnerships with influencers, affiliates, and others to create pleasant shopping experiences and promote them through fun advertising campaigns, creative videos, and live streaming. 

As the leading global partnerships management platform, impact.com transforms how enterprises manage and optimize all types of partnerships. With the impact.com platform, users aggregate, orchestrate and optimize the partnership life cycle’s total value to drive and create new value for consumers. 

For more information on building out your partnerships ecosystem, visit www.impact.com or check out these other impact.com resources:

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