The popularity of yard sales speaks volumes about face-to-face marketing. According to one stat I found online, yard/garage sales increased by 80% in 2009 (as judged by Craigslist postings…and I’m sure the economy at the time boosted these numbers). I’ve been packing up my house and attempting to get rid of some items on Craigslist. With such easy access to free online marketplaces, why would anyone go through the hassle of hosting physical yard sales? I don’t think I”m going out on a limb when I say that digital convenience simply cannot replace in-person experiences and the emotions that come from them. We’re even seeing the yard sales themselves turned into pop-up events that go well beyond selling an old desk lamp and mountain bike on your front lawn.
Are we that far away from customers requiring businesses to pitch them on purchasing products and services? I’ve had a few experiences with 99designs (over 200k design contests completed), mostly good. The basic premise of the site (and those similar to it) is that service providers bid on a project and the consumer chooses a winner. I just recently read about Wish.com, a personalized shopping list app, which banks on user data to recommend products (not too dissimilar from Amazon’s much lauded approach). With retargeted ads taking over the Internet (seriously, I have been chased around by Avis ads after doing some client research recently) and users consistently inputting valuable information online, we can’t be that far from a service that simply requires you to connect your entire digital persona for log-in, then sit back and let brands pitch you on purchasing their wares.
Google offers more reasons to embrace showrooming as your ally, not the enemy. In a recent shopper marketing research effort, Google is attempting to define just how smartphones are used during the in-store shopping experience. While that’s not a big shocker to most of us (search engines are a significant part of that process), when Google focuses its gaze on something, it’s time to pay close attention. I’m of the belief that the practice of showrooming is not necessarily to the detriment of brick-and-mortars, but instead should be viewed as another level of engagement towards buying behavior. The writing is on the wall – consumers are going to look to their phones while in-store to support their activities, so it’s up to you to either help in that journey or choose to be a roadblock.