Info Shoppers: A New Breed of HR Buyers

I just got through reading a fun book titled Microtrends: The Small Forces Behind Tomorrow's Big Changes. A New York Times and WSJ best seller now in paperback.

Excellent book with a lot of great idea-generating content for anyone in marketing or PR. And some good information for HR vendors such as an entire chapter on the "Working Retired" and the huge implications for recruiters, employers and society.

But today I'm blogging about another chapter that describes a new breed of consumers called "New Info Shoppers", a name given to the growing trend of information based shopping.

Information based shoppers are consumers who pour over product spec sheets, third-party review sites, blogs and any other information they can get their hands on before buying a product.

Many big market categories are becoming information based models including cars, homes, electronics and medical care. In all these product categories nearly 80% of shoppers say they gather information on their own from the web before buying.

As a result, the author of microtrends correctly points out that marketers today must "balance traditional media, online media, and content".

Sound familiar?

But how many marketers have adjusted? Not many. Based on advertising budgets in the U.S., a typical company spends 60 times more on advertising than they spend on generating online publicity.

Some companies in other industries understood this trend - like Zagat's who pioneered the concept of survey ratings which most good restaurants use and millions of consumers refer to before making a buying decision.

But what Microtrends points out, which is interesting, is the fact that info shoppers are now spreading down the product chain - even to shampoo!

In fact, according to microttends, an astonishing 70% of consumers say they consult online product reviews or consumer ratings before making a buying decision. And 62% say they spend at least 30 minutes online each week to help them decide what and whether to buy. Among Americans under age 43 that number jumps to 73%!

HRmarketer's HR Trend Reports identified this same trend nearly five years ago in the HR marketplace. Each year we run these surveys (a new one to be issued this Fall) a larger percentage of HR decision makers say they go to the Internet first - even before peers - to gather information on products they intend to buy.

What can HR vendors learn from this trend?

Information marketing means vendors have to get back to producing more information on their products (spec sheets, case studies, HR white papers, research reports, etc.) and aggressively delivering this content to buyers through a mix of traditional and online marketing and PR tactics.

By the way, the author of microtrends predicts that "Information aggregation sites" - the ones that don't generate content themselves but link to others' content - will become even more important. And as an HR vendor, you need to be on these sites.

HRmarketer's own Information aggregation site - The HR Directory - is a great place for you to create a company profile and link to all your content. It's free (and it helps your SEO). We will soon be launching a new product review section that allows HR people to rate your products, as well as an RFI portal that gives HR people the ability to request information from HR vendors and compare products.

Stay tuned!

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