business news in context, analysis with attitude

The Wall Street Journal has a story saying that “determined to find the best deals, more shoppers are researching their grocery lists online before going to the store. For marketers, that means big changes in how and when they tempt consumers to buy ... It's well known that consumers research expensive products like electronics online, but coming out of the recession, consumers are more scrupulous about researching their everyday products such as diapers and detergent, too. More than a fifth of them also research food and beverages, nearly a third research pet products and 39% research baby products, even though they ultimately tend to buy those products in stores, according to WSL Strategic Retail, a consulting firm.”

The story goes on: “The digital shift is a particular challenge for food and household-product companies, which typically aren't as advanced online as their electronics and apparel counterparts. They have been deterred by the cost of shipping bulky but low-value items like paper towels, detergent and canned soup, especially given the ubiquity of brick-and-mortar stores selling the products for about the same price.”
KC's View:
I cannot tell you how many people in recent months have argued to me, with absolute certainty, that while people may research cars and flatscreen TVs online, they’ll never exhibit that kind of behavior when it comes to everyday products.

And yet, here you have a study saying that a significant percentage of people already are doing so. And the numbers only are going to grow, because smart phones and new applications make the whole “research” process both intuitive and seamless.

It is all about product transparency - about price, about ingredients, about nutritional information, about packaging, and about food safety. To think - and act - otherwise is to tempt fate, because the companies and products that achieve increasing transparency will be giving themselves a differential advantage and an edge on the competition.