It’s only been since the late 1990’s that marketers are able to look at the phenomenon of Internet purchasing.
It’s really too short a time to accurately begin predicting more long-term trends and patterns that will spill over into the future. But one thing is certain – the Internet is not static and it will change and become more and more dynamic in the years to come.
Initially, most online prospects were hesitant to give up credit card information and personal data required to make a purchase.
But by about 1998 or so attitudes toward security began changing and customers were more at ease in divulging their information.
As I have watched Internet business begin to grow and mature, I have noticed that certain recurring patterns seem to play themselves out over time.
Observing these patterns and keeping a careful eye on emerging trends will help the solo entrepreneur position himself and his business in a way that will benefit his revenue generation.
Here are a few simple but easily recognized buying patterns I’ve watched online:
1. Product shelf life seems to be considerably shortened given the accelerated pace of the Internet market economy, fickle consumer demand, and the speed of new development and innovation.
Products that were hot even six months ago may have cooled off considerably by today.
This trend seems to hold true particularly for fashions, fads (diets, exercise programs, self-improvement, etc), ebooks, music, and other “pop culture” products.
2. The pace for mass acceptance by non-traditional (US) cultural purchasing is quickening and broadening.
Latin music, movie themes, magazines and styles are blending into the mainstream like never before.
Foreign heritage is being promoted and displayed everywhere.
Foreign immigrants band together in neighborhoods and entire sections of cities.
Online purchases by non-US born individuals are at an all time high and will only increase in the future.
3. The percentage of male buyers online is dwindling and females are now in the majority position (at least in the United States). This trend is predicted to continue into the foreseeable future.
The most active online buying group is post-college and female young marrieds between 24 and 36 years of age.
4. The percentage of online buyers living in the U.S. is now less that 50% and the trend will continue to increase in pace as places like China, Korea, and India build out their Internet infrastructure.
The Internet is a global phenomenon and eventually the population centers of the world will adopt the technology and connectivity.
5. “Flurries of activity” come and go very quickly around certain products, services, and selling strategies. They tend to act like a school of darting minnows moving from one feeding frenzy to the next.
Savvy marketers know this and tend to watch and be ready for the suddenly appearing and disappearing (but intense) activity.
Individual consumers are much the same way.
They jump from one subject to another, gorging themselves on information and products, then move on to the next interesting niche when they’ve had their fill.
6. Buyers online don’t seem to have as much time and patience as they once did. Very often, they look for the quick and easy “solution in a box” kind of product.
They don’t necessarily want to take the time to learn how to do something – they want it done for them right now.
An example: forget learning how to build a web site – just slap it up for me and I’ll pay you for your time.
7. Dig into the niche deeper and deeper. Forget trying to be a generalist in anything. The broader your scope, the more competition you’ll have from the biggest online players that are well healed and difficult to unseat as a competitor.
You’ll be paid handsomely for your knowledge and expertise in the narrowest and deepest of subjects.
“Ultra niching” leads to select groups of very specialized products.
You often wouldn’t think there would be enough customers in a tiny niche to attempt to market to them. But the reach of the Internet is global and you’d be surprised at how many participants there may be in weird little niches.
In addition, new people are coming online every day and deep niches are attractive places to find well-healed consumers.
Watch the trends in online marketing and consumer behavior. Stay out in front of the competition.
To your online business success!