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(via MediapostWith worldwide shutdowns in place, many consumers are turning to online shopping options. In fact, the Commerce Department recently reported that online retail sales were higher than general merchandise stores for the first time ever. Pick-up orders are, not surprisingly, also on a sharp positive trajectory.With online shopping comes the digital quest for information. Consumers are looking to sources like retailer websites, social media, mobile app searches and online reviews to inform their decision-making process.

This is especially true for high-consideration purchase categories, which have a median spend of 12 times that of low-consideration categories. These purchases are also researched and decided upon at home (versus point of purchase) four and a half times more than lower-consideration items.

Overall, 70% of people from all demographics are seeking out more information about purchases than they did five years ago.

This increased information consumption is affecting the way people buy products. New research that explores shopping behavior in an array of product categories uncovered a distinct correlation between information consumption and shopping habits. In addition, as people become more adept at navigating informational sources, and the sources themselves become more efficient at delivering information, less overall time is spent shopping.

What happens to traditional informational sources in this reality?

With digital media consumption on the rise, use of many traditional media channels is falling drastically. This is reflected in marketing budget statistics which illustrate that overall, marketer budgets for traditional advertising are falling while digital marketing continues to grow. 

Our research with PebblePost, a Digital To Direct Mail marketing platform, found that one traditional informational source that defies this trend categorically is direct mail, which maintains significant advantages over other traditional sources of information. It also generates more response than digital efforts like email, social, and paid search (nearly 10 times).

Because it is delivered directly to the home, and high consideration purchase research is done at home (and everyone is AT home right now), it dovetails well with other source consumption habits for higher value purchases. In fact, our research found that direct mail is influencing 31% of purchases, is a top-three source on 10% of purchases, and is driving high value decisions, including influencing a whopping $14 trillion in discretionary purchases.

There have been a few tongue-in-cheek jokes circulating about getting dressed up or putting makeup on to go out to the mailbox each day, since it is the main opportunity many have to leave the house during the pandemic shutdown. Even well before our current situation, polls found that more than 40% of people looked forward to checking their mail. Today’s audience is very likely even more engaged due to the global health crisis.

For brands looking to connect with a changing audience, it is important to understand exactly which sources consumers are using to research and make purchase decisions. While consumption varies based on demographics, product category and other factors, marketers can effectively influence purchases with a savvy mix of digital and influential traditional media, like direct mail.

As more people move their shopping experiences online, by choice or necessity, they are researching purchases in a variety of ways. Finding connections with them during the decision-making process is vital during uncertain times.

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