When ‘I have to have it’ clashes with reality, shoppers turn to search

Whether window-shopping, watching TV, or scrolling through images online, it’s not uncommon to come across something that inspires an “I have to have that” mindset. It could be a designer watch or luxury SUV. Or the sectional sofa that would be just right for the living room. But then there’s the price tag.

More and more, however, today’s research-obsessed consumers aren’t letting price get in the way of aspiration. They realize they have the tools to find something similar to that aspirational product, but that’s more practical for them.

We’re seeing this come to life in how people search. People are comparison shopping by searching for alternatives that make their aspirations accessible and that they can feel good about.

Help me find something that looks similar

  • Mobile searches for “that looks like” grew by over 60% in the past two years. For example, “inexpensive tile that looks like wood,” “honda that looks like ferrari,” “furniture that looks like pottery barn,” “rock that looks like a diamond,” and “new furniture that looks like antiques.”1
  • Mobile searches for “similar to” have grown by 60% in the past two years. For example, “shirts similar to untuckit,” “coolers similar to yeti,” and “cars similar to jeep wrangler.”2
1249 Inline 01

Help me find what I want at a price I can afford

Mobile searches for “under $_” have grown by over 175% in the past two years. For example, “cheap window air conditioners under $100,” “cheap luggage sets under $50,” “hotels near me under $100,” “cars under $3000,” and “best trader joe’s wine under $10.”3

1249 Inline 02

Help me find an alternative brand or store like the one I want

Mobile searches for “brands like” and “stores like” have grown over 60% in the past two years.4 For example, “stores like urban outfitters,” “stores like victoria’s secret but cheaper,” and “brands like patagonia."5

1249 Inline 03

Some brands might be uncomfortable with the notion of shoppers using search to research alternatives. But in reality, this presents an opportunity for you to stand out.

It’s more important than ever for brands to help people in the moment they’re making these decisions. Consider these approaches:

  • Think about the aspirations people associate with your product category and make your best features stand out (particularly if you’re concerned about competing on price). 
  • Enable product comparisons in a way that benefits your brand. 
  • Optimize your content so that you show up when people search for “brands like” or “stores like” so that you can become part of their consideration set.
How Australian marketers are using data to develop high-impact ad creative