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If you're like me, you've found yourself playing the field when shopping for things on your list, even when you have an old, reliable brand in the wings.

It’s safe to say brand loyalty isn't what it used to be, and that fact isn't news for marketers or consumers. Even senior citizens aren't as loyal to their old favorites.

So how are today’s U.S. shoppers deciding what to purchase? To find out, we talked to more than 1,800 consumer packaged goods (CPG) shoppers in three areas: skin care, baby care, and pet foods. We asked them about the choices they made on their path to purchase: where they started, what they did next, and what they were thinking along the way. Here's what we learned.

People really are undecided

With so many choices at their fingertips, these shoppers often begin their journey undecided on what brand and product they want to purchase.

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In fact, more than 8 in 10 undecided CPG shoppers say they’re considering multiple brands or don’t have any brands in mind at all.1 And 60% of smartphone users say they’ve discovered a new company or product when conducting a search on their smartphones.2

This means CPG shoppers have many more opportunities to change their minds. We know they’re more research-obsessed than ever before, even for everyday purchases. They’re determined to get the perfect product for their needs, and what if there’s something a little more perfect than last time?  

CPG shoppers want a personalized experience

Shoppers looking for consumer packaged goods and who use search are 2X more likely to do their first search on Google than on any other website, including e-commerce retailers.3 In fact, 75% of shoppers said they used search early in their process.4

With all this knowledge at their fingertips, CPG shoppers crave more personalized products. That’s why we’re also seeing upper-funnel mobile queries starting with “shampoo for ___” up by 90%5 and ending with “_____ to avoid” up by 150% over the past two years.6

Shoppers want to understand how products are fulfilling their particular needs.

In other words, shoppers want to understand how products are fulfilling their particular needs. Brand manufacturers understand their products better than anyone else, and these increasingly common upper-funnel queries give them an opportunity to show that to shoppers.

Searching isn’t a one-and-done task

More than 60% of CPG shoppers searched multiple times throughout their journeys.7 Consumer packaged goods shoppers tend to search over and over to uncover more information and dive deeper into the category before making their purchase decisions.

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In the baby care, skin care, and pet food categories, 80% or more of CPG shoppers who used search said it influenced their purchase decisions.8 Search tells the story. Mobile searches for things like “top  _____ brands” and “best _____ brands” are up 95% over the past two years.9

As shoppers encounter more digital touchpoints, they respond well to brands that offer varied and positive experiences at each stop along the way. Brands can win customers by not only staying top of mind during each stage of the shopping journey, but by demonstrating that they understand people’s needs and can fulfill them.

Brand websites influence buying decisions

With shoppers’ expectations higher than ever, brand manufacturer sites still offer a major opportunity for impact. These websites offer fully controlled digital gateways for interested shoppers. When shoppers do end up on these brand sites, the experience influences their buying decisions in a big way.

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As proof, 67% of smartphone users said they’re more likely to purchase from companies whose mobile sites or apps customize information to their current location,10 and baby-care shoppers who visited a brand site spent on average 15% more on their purchases.11

So while search remains big, so do brand sites. A good brand site influences offline sales. And a bad touchpoint here could lead to smaller basket sizes and less foot traffic into offline locations.

3 things to keep in mind

  1. Be ready to speak to the undecided consumer. Yes, brand loyalty may be weaker, but shoppers are still looking for more information on how brands can help them solve their particular needs.
  2. Invest in your site experience. Sales can be closed there. Our research showed that, for CPG shoppers as a whole, the most common next step after visiting a brand site is to visit a physical retail store.
  3. Focus on all your digital touchpoints. Shoppers like to “touch ’em all,” gathering information on all devices and from all locations. Be ready to meet them with a custom and relevant experience at each moment.

Interested in more statistics from our CPG industry research specific to baby care, skin care, and pet food? Check them all out here.