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Photo: Melina Granberg
Åsa Wallström, professor of Industrial Marketing and Maria Ek Styvén, Associate Professor of Industrial Marketing. Photo: Melina Granberg View original picture , opens in new tab/window

Analyzing reasons behind customer behavior

Published: 14 November 2016

As the web is an increasing part of our lives, our behaviour as consumers is also changing. This entails a number of new challenges for retail companies. Researchers at Luleå University of Technology have studied how consumer needs can be met.

– Our reference group consists of Lindex, Clas Ohlson, Coop, Stadium and Test Freaks. Large companies such as these have employees working full time on channel strategies and they have large amounts of data that can be analyzed to show how their customers behave, but generally, it does not explain why they do what they do. Our research is one piece of the puzzle in trying to explain some of this, says Maria Ek Styvén, Associate Professor of Industrial Marketing.

Consumers move across channels

Through focus groups and surveys with consumers, the scientists have examined how consumers behave when purchasing consumer electronics, clothing, books or food.

– Today, the consumer moves between digital and physical channels throughout the purchasing process. The challenge for retailers is about getting customers to their store, either physical or web-based – and then to keep them there, says Maria Ek Styvén.

When buying online, factors such as a mobile-friendly website, wide variety, a quick and easy buying process, fast delivery, easy and free returns, a generous return policy and customer chats are important.

Well-informed customers make new demands

The research also shows that customers today are more well-informed, more price sensitive and less loyal. Particularly when it comes to consumer electronics, customers tend to focus on product information, compare similar products with each other and read product reviews on the web. This customer group is also most likely to make their purchases online, in the store that offers the best price. At the same time, research shows that the physical store is still the most important, regardless of product category.

– When customers come into the store, they are well informed, which places higher demands on employees. By having knowledgeable staff and providing good and personalized service, stores can differentiate from others, attract and retain customers. It is important to give relevant advice and provide assistance which the customer might get online, says Åsa Wallström, Professor of Industrial Marketing.