ThinkOTB Agency

What is the ROBO economy and how does it impact your marketing strategy?

August 15, 2017

In the Amazon age, anything and everything can arrive on your doorstep. Often, the product will arrive within a matter of hours of your order. As a result of this trend, many brands have opted for full digital retail strategies. They’re moving their marketing, communications and product offerings online. It’s a bid to answer the demand for a constantly accessible shopping experience and personalised offers.

Customers have, for some time now, been demanding the digitalisation of their retail experience. So, the recent shift towards offline purchasing may come as a shock to marketers. Coined as ROBO marketing, standing for ‘research online, buy offline,’ this latest twist in the digital marketing saga. It requires marketers to sit back and assess their strategies once again, to ensure that their approach services the needs of their audience.

This week we’re looking into the ROBO trend and how marketers can respond in their strategy. 

What is ROBO marketing?

Research online, buy offline is quickly becoming a hot topic for marketers. Although the name itself may seem self-explanatory, the repercussions of the trend go far deeper for marketers than simply a switch from digital spending back to bricks-and-mortar stores. 

Marketing Week argues that one aspect of this impact is consumer generated content (CGC). It suggests that the degree to which CGC influences online sales is well documented. But, we have gleamed very few insights about the role this content plays in generating offline sales.

Yet a new study by CGC network Bazaar Voice has sought to address this lack of comprehensive research, suggesting that ‘increasingly, consumers consult CGC to make decisions prior to shopping in-store, with many doing their research directly in the aisle […] due to its easy accessibility on mobile devices.’ 

Going far beyond the online product page, this wealth of information is having a tangible impact on the way that consumers carry out in store purchases, and according to Bazaar Voice’s whitepaper should be seen as an opportunity for marketers.

Key ROBO insights, and what do to with them

While Bazaar Voice’s whitepaper includes a wealth of insights into the phenomenon, several stand out as having a direct impact on marketing strategy and will require a strong response from marketers if they are to keep pace with the trend. 

Insight 1

‘Consumers generally turn to the retailer to find information [about a product], however if they don’t find the information they need to make a decision, 32% don’t buy the item and another 10% deflect to other retail sites.’ 

Action – It sounds like a no-brainer to have the relevant product information on your product’s page. But, it’s easy to overlook such a simple element of strategy in the bid for elaborate marketing techniques and stylish website formats. The ease of finding this information crucial. Its accessibility, tone, content and of course the availability of reviews and CGC can all impact on the information available to a consumer performing ROBO.

You should also make sure this information is mobile optimised. A lack of readable information can result in consumers going elsewhere for their research. They could potentially find a better deal on alternative sites, which would be bad for you!

Insight 2

‘56% of survey participants said the first thing they do when researching a purchase is to use a search engine.’

Action – Search engines act as the font of all knowledge for many. Particularly in the digital native generation who use the verb ‘to google’ without a second thought. While search engine optimisation (SEO) is a favourite for digital strategists, perhaps less would immediately associate this tool with driving offline sales and in-store footfall.

When it comes to ROBO, being at the top of the search results page has never been more vital. The prevalence of mobile search and the speed with which shoppers want to access information leaves little hope for 5th or 6th place. While paid-for search could be the answer, there are cheaper solutions! Make sure to update your site content regularly. This significantly contributes to page rankings and therefore ROBO retention. 

ROBO may not require a complete overhaul of marketing strategies. But, it does require that marketers respond to yet another layer of nuance in an already complicated picture. Customer journeys already boast multiple touchpoints and multi-platforming is becoming the norm. CGC means huge volumes of content need to be mined and managed. ROBO adds another consideration into the mix. By ensuring that your strategy works for an array of consumer shopping preferences, you can ensure that those all-important sales figures don’t fall through the net.

Want to make use of ROBO marketing but don’t know where to start? Get in touch with Think OTB!


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