This is the power of social shopping in the technology era: more than ever before, shoppers are simply wielding more power by searching, sharing, connecting, interacting and transacting. If one adds this to the increasing distrust of brands and retailers, it is expected that marketers should be saying things need to be done differently.
But the truth is they generally aren't. Editor's choice editorials, trial sizes, launch promotions and so on are the primary tools to drive sales. This is not to say they aren't effective, but we need to really ask what the shopper needs from us to believe, rather than what we believe will cost-effectively convince them the most in the short term.
The world of beauty products is a great example of how selling rather than interacting has some interesting unintended consequences.
The marketing opportunity: All women would love to have eyelashes that look dramatic and impossibly thick. The marketing solution: Flood the market with innovation and the airwaves with announcement advertising. The shopper reaction is one of confusion regarding choice, unanswered questions ("Will it end up under my eyes by the end of the day?"), a level of scepticism ("Was the model wearing false eyelashes in the picture?") and a need to get advice.
The best that a brand can hope for in these circumstances is that a flood of advertising will not sway loyal customers away from their brand. However, the question becomes: how, if at all, has your brand taken or defended share?
By leaving the customer with so many unanswered questions, brands have lost the opportunity to truly grow a loyal base and are relying on their products to deliver outstanding performance in a world in which this is relatively rare.
The point is not just to be there but to truly interact with the shopper at every point in their decision-making process - what are their needs, questions and desires, where do they go to find answers and how can you best deliver these?
Shopper marketing in the digital age provides us with an opportunity to create loyalists rather than simply spikes in sales, but only if we choose to use it.