From a Transaction to an Interaction: the Emotional Side to Shopping

Author: Mahmmoud Shammout

In partnership with IPSOS

The “Why” Behind the Buy & Understanding your (shopper) self

Why do we (humans) do what we do has to be one of the most researched, reported and reflected on topic amongst psychologists. Admittedly, quite a complex one and, something we marketers are fixated on. And … Rightly so.
Can you remember the last thing you bought?
You certainly remember how you felt after the purchase, perhaps even during the purchase, but can you delve into your thoughts and motivations to articulate out how you felt before?
Can you remember if you bought it because you needed it – or just really wanted it? Was it a checklist errand? Were you filling a desire for some thrill? Or maybe you wanted to stay on trend and didn't even know that about yourself?
Too many questions and too many matrixes to create. But … What if it were simpler?
The eComm industry is forecasted to reach a market size of ~ $94Bn in MENAT by 2024 and the retail industry to reach $434 Bn in MENAT by 2024 [2]So, I'm on a mission to make sense of these so-called shopping triggers and I believe, there is no better way to do so than to start from the beginning, from once upon a time.

Once upon a time, we were need-driven shoppers

Shopping was based on necessities, we shopped for the essentials. And our understanding of what is essential was pretty much shared – groceries, household & cleaning products, food, or the occasional furniture uplift. Today, electronics like TV & mobile phones have also started to weave their way into essential needs as per the below diagram conducted by IPSOS [1]

Our shopping journey was also far less complex than it is today. We shopped at convenient stores or eventually supermarkets and hypermarkets – there was a tangible and physical path to purchase and the decision or moment of truth took place at the aisle. The options of brands available were limited. And, the experience was basically transactional.

Today, the line between needs and wants is blurred

Obviously, today, there are multiple touchpoints that can influence our decision that no longer occur in the aisle. We've become such sophisticated shoppers – we do our research, we check packaging information, we take recommendations from friends, we are experimental, we shop from different stores online.
With accessibility no longer being a rare commodity, the line between needs and wants is blurry and that is something marketers can leverage. Surely, you've heard someone discover a smart watch or a new pair of shoes and say “I need this” when in reality it's not an essential need. The drive behind that confession is purely emotional. And, it all boils down to the relationship the shopper has with the brand and the way the brand communicates in today's reality.

In today's reality, shopping has evolved from a transaction to an interaction.

The Emotional Buy

In the latest research titled Shopping Triggers conducted by IPSOS (2022) – they identified 15 key shopping triggers that motivate people’s purchase decisions. Of course, there are what we call “functional” motivations such as limited offers or promotions that are important. But it's the emotional motivations that caught our attention.
FOMO (fear of missing out), belonging, inspiration, word of mouth, exploration, keeping up with trends, gifting – contributed to 96% of what we call emotional triggers (Shopping Triggers, IPSOS, 2022). And, emotional triggers have 1.5x more impact on impulsive buying and higher spending than functional triggers. [2]

The Most Intense Emotional Motivation: Inspiration
61% of shoppers report that inspiration prompts them to buy something even when they aren’t actively shopping [1]. Inspiration is what triggers people to feel like they really need this product. And, the impact of inspiration is higher when they are consuming short-form video content on TikTok.
TikTok is 1.6x more inspiring compared to other digital channels.
Shoppers spend 1.1x more and are 1.4x more impulsive when TikTok is part of the purchase journey. [1]

Why #TikTokMadeMeBuyIT, #BookIt, #TryIt

Naturally, we were curious to discover why TikTok inspires people to shop. I'm sure we're all familiar with the phenomenon #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt.
#TTMBI garnered 27B+ video views [4]
Actually, beyond shopping it spilled over and TikTok inspires people to take all sorts of action: #TikTokMadeMeReadIt or Book it (for travel), or Try it (for experiences) or Clean it and the list goes on.

Inspiration reveals that a new form of commerce is emerging that is rooted in entertainment.

The next evolution of commerce fulfils these emotional needs through Shoppertainment. Entertainment is beyond whatever stereotypical description we may have of it.
Entertained means you are interested, you are present, you are compelled and mostly – you are invested. Content created with people, through people and most importantly for people is the key to creating entertainment that inspires people to shop. [1]

Don't just be on their wish list – inspire them to 'need' it

Inspiration is the brand's most effective way to connect with their consumers and enhance the emotional connection. There is a new form of commerce emerging and consumers want to enjoy their shopping experience and be entertained. It makes them go from I want this to I NEED this, now.TikTok is built to satisfy consumers functional and emotional needs more than any other platform. It's the place where entertainment meets commerce.