Businesses expanding into different regions around the world are often aware that they need to localize their websites, social media properties and offline marketing material – but many marketers fail to consider the localization of their attribution models.
The huge differences in purchasing behavior in different regions around the world mean that the carefully crafted attribution models that deliver results in one region may not be suitable for another.
The conversion path your business sees in your home market may be radically different in another, where consumers make purchase decisions very differently and use different channels.
Understanding the unique conversion path in each of your markets is a key part of understanding your target audience, and hopefully maximizing those conversions. And in a mobile, multi-channel world, attribution modelling goes beyond first and last click.
Online / offline attribution
Retailers working in many western cultures typically identify showrooming behaviour as part of their audience’s conversion path.
Showrooming is a trend identified in retail where customers research products in bricks-and-mortar stores but make the final purchase online.
This could be because they find prices cheaper online, they want the item delivered to their home, or for other reasons such as wanting an item of clothing that hasn’t been tried on by other people in store. Showrooming drives many bricks-and-mortar retailers to distraction, especially if it’s an online competitor that gets the final sale.
When UK camera retailer Jessops went into administration in 2013, staff pasted a sarcastic notice in the store window saying ‘Thank you for shopping with Amazon’. There are ways to overcome the damage to profits that showrooming can do – offering poor customer advice was cited as the real reason Jessops couldn’t compete with online sellers, and branding helps.
But showrooming is also a sign of confidence in online retail. It shows that customers feel confident shopping online even when the item was within their reach in an offline channel. In many countries where online shopping is more novel, or there are greater barriers to it, showrooming may not be part of the conversion pathway. In fact, the reverse behavior may instead be seen.
This opposite to showrooming is called ‘webrooming’ and as you’d expect it involved customers researching online then purchasing in-store. It doesn’t always mean customers pay more to make the final purchase offline.
Webrooming by Chinese tourists, who research luxury brands online at home before purchasing on overseas trips to Europe, is helping prop up London’s economy.
Luxury goods tend to be more expensive to buy domestically in China than in Western countries such as France and the US, and the experience of visiting a luxury brand’s store is an enjoyable highlight of a trip.
It’s also the case that many Chinese consumers may have to travel some distance to their nearest luxury retailer in huge China. Similar webrooming behavior is demonstrated by Brazilian consumers who avoid high import taxes on luxury goods, and other items such as nappies, by purchasing on trips to the USA.
In some markets you’ll also see other trends that indicate how your audience are making their purchase decisions. People in the culture of mainland China tend to value fitting in and collectivist decision making. As a result of these cultural tendencies, you’re more likely to see online reviews being consulted as part of the purchase decision-making process.
As trust remains a concern for many Chinese consumers, they may be less likely to trust product information supplied by companies. They are more likely to be consistently influenced by word of mouth throughout the purchase cycle, to a much greater extent than westerners. You may see evidence of this in the conversion path for that market, where external sources (such as independent reviews and social media) are consulted as well as your owned channels.
You may need to review how you collect and analyse data in your different markets. In the west, marketers are often faced with issues tracking users across multiple devices. Perhaps a customer starts by watching a product advert on TV, then they seek more product information online using a tablet but then they may make the final purchase on their smartphone whilst on the train to work the next morning. This kind of behaviour can make it tricky to identify that it’s the same consumer going through the purchase journey across multiple devices.
In many emerging markets the reverse may be seen: rather than one individual using multiple devices, multiple individuals are using the same device. In Africa, the proportion of consumers saying they have access to the internet is much higher than those who own a device, suggesting each device is shared by multiple users.
In some villages in sub-Saharan Africa, smartphones are seen as a shared resource. Untangling the conversion journey for an individual can be tricky in these circumstances.
Different regions may also use a different mix of channels in their conversion pathway. McKinsey has identified that over 90% of Chinese web users are likely to have used a social media site in the last few months, compared to only about a third of Japanese web users and about two thirds of those in the US.
Social media is not only much more likely to influence purchasing decisions for Chinese consumers, but Chinese social media channels are also better integrated with online shopping. Chinese web users are much more likely to convert immediately from social media than western consumers, who may use social at an earlier part of the research process but tend to leave social sites in order to make the final purchase.
Consumers tend to use a different channel mix for practical as well as cultural reasons. While mobile is generally a significant channel everywhere in the world, some consumers will only have experienced the web via mobile and don’t have access to the web via other devices. Countries such Nigeria are turning increasingly to mobile channels as new internet users there tend to get started with mobile without first experiencing desktop.
In poorer parts of the world, where users may be accessing the web via basic handsets and limited bandwidth, there are constraints on which channels it is practical to use.
Many web users in sub-Saharan Africa may wait patiently for a page to load but will avoid video as it’s likely to impact significantly on data usage.
And in some parts of the world there are certain major players who dominate online shopping. In countries such as Nigeria and China local giant shopping portals such as Konga and Tmall dominate to such an extent that they may form a significant part of the conversion path for your audience.
Czech internet users heavily favor the Seznem internet portal and a sizeable chunk of the population will start every journey there. That’s partly because Google took a long time to master the local language and alphabet successfully and form a credible rival.
The Czech market is now split between Seznam and Google to a much more equal extent. Markets where a number of credible rivals exist may complicate the conversion journey, especially if savvy shoppers are hunting around to get the best deal. This can complicate the attribution model in that market.