Sunday, December 14, 2008

What Online Consumers Want

As I mentioned in a past entry, the online world is becoming a very important medium for marketers. With online sales predicted to hit $230 billion of the total sales made by the end of the year, it is very important to make sure that you have a winning website that will reach the consumers (West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism, 2008). We last discussed the importance of websites, but there's another aspect to online marketing that is even more important than the design and equal to the importance of the product.

I'm talking about the consumer. It's common sense that without a consumer there would be no sale. With this in mind, the question is how do we get inside of the consumer's head to know what they want. Are they interested in the product? The design? The contents? Knowing what the consumer wants and how to persuade them that you have what they need is vital to any good business. So, how do you get into the consumer's mind?

The first step is to figure out your target audience. Who do you want to sell the product to? I know, many of you wouldn't mind selling your products or services to everyone, but for the sake of saving money so you don't spend a ton of money on mass marketing, the best way to figure out the mind of the consumer is to identify who is the consumer that is most likely to purchase the product or services? This identification includes age, sex, ethnicity, income, education, etc. Here are some questions to ask in terms of a target audience (Lake, 2008):

* Who is your target audience?
* Where is your target audience located?
* What do they think about your current brand?
* What would you like them to think about your brand?
* How will you attract them to you products or services?
* Who is your competition?

Once you understand your target audience, you need to consider what draws your target audience to a product. For example, the most profitable age demographic according to many marketers is the Y Generation which has the average spending power of $90 a week (Cozzalio, 2008). So, what does a member of Generation Y look for when it comes to purchases? A few key components that interest a member of Generation Y are: speed, individuality, and personalization (O'Donnell, 2006). This generation is not willing to wait on a slow website to load, so quick website speeds is vital to keep the attention of a potential consumer. This generation deems individuality and uniqueness to be very important (Cozzalio, 2008). Therefore, a website that allows a person to take charge and personalize their experience to their own individual preferences is more likely to gain sales than a website that gives these consumers very little choice (O'Donnell, 2006).

After discovering what draws your target demographic into purchasing a product or service, then you need to adapt to their needs. If your audience is older or has trouble reading, then you may want to make your site simple and easy to read. If your audience is aimed toward a specific ethnic group, then make sure the images and content relate to this group and not become too generalized or too stereotypical. Either way, getting into the minds of the consumers is a very important part of online e-commerce.

Cozzalio, D. (2008). Meet generation y. Siskiyous College. Retrieved December 14, 2008, from

Lake, L. (2008). Focusing on your target audience. About. Retrieved December 14, 2008, from

West Virginia University, P.I. Reed School of Journalism. Lesson 8: Creative considerations in emerging media. Retrieved December 14, 2008, from


Anonymous said...

This is the first-ever year-over-year drop in e-commerce spending in US since the e-commerce category was established, the same study reveals. Such a drop is the result of low consumer confidence in online shopping, as well as a "tight disposable income".

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