Online consumer behavior: How to spot invisible trends

We know the digital age has changed the way people interact with brands, significantly increasing online shopping. In turn, this has led to an increase in the amount of data generated about online consumer behavior. 


In that sense, data analysis has become a key tool to learn the details of such behavior because it enables spotting trends or buying patterns that are not obvious “at a glance,” giving us a competitive advantage to devise and execute more effective marketing strategies. 


In this article, we’ll explore how digital behavioral data can help marketing directors identify “invisible trends” that help them optimize their strategies’ performance or launch of online products. 



The rise of e-commerce and the importance of online consumer behavioral data 

Today, online consumer behavior has become a vital issue for brands. This is mainly due to the evolution of consumption and the rapid emergence of technology in our lives. Now, as a result, brands that want to stay ahead of the curve should pay attention to the following realities of digital behavior: 


  • Internet access encourages consumers to have an unlimited spectrum of options, which has redefined buying patterns and led to great changes in consumer behavior. 

  • The proliferation of mobile devices has sparked a revolution in the “where” and “when” of purchasing. 

  • Personalization of the shopping experience has become a crucial factor. Accordingly, efficiently managing the collection and analysis of high-quality data is essential. 

  • Social media has unleashed a revolution in the way people interact with brands and products.


Nevertheless, beyond that, a brand must do a deep dive into online behavior if it really wants to learn the truth about its consumers. At present, marketing has realized that long gone are the days when learning consumers’ opinion (declared data) sufficed. If a brand or company wants to understand online consumer behavior, it should, at a minimum, study: 


  • The websites consumers visit 

  • The applications they typically use 

  • The type of devices they use the most and for how long 

  • The average value of their purchase


This type of data makes it possible to evaluate a consumer’s habits and preferences more accurately and, therefore, plan marketing strategies better. 



The power of passive data collection in analyzing online consumer behavior 

As we know, the satisfaction of a particular need lies behind every purchasing decision. In that context, the online consumer psychologically faces a series of questions in their head, such as: 

  • Should I look for a better price? 

  • Should I visit another online store? 

  • Is this store safe enough? 

  • And many others 


Understanding the drivers behind their decisions is the ultimate goal that every marketing director should pursue. This is the only way to correctly pinpoint the path to determining an online consumer’s real behavior and providing answers to common unknowns, such as: 


  • Which product should we position in the market? Studying online consumer behavior brings us closer to finding out which products or services will have greater acceptance. 

  • When should we do it? Timing is everything. This type of study can help us decide to move forward or to hold off for a moment. 

  • Where should we do it? Brands can identify the best sales channels to focus on to reach the target audience. 

  • For whom should we do it? Behavioral data makes it possible to segment the target audience and adapt a marketing strategy to specific profiles with specific needs. 


In this work, it is also crucial to consider a consumer’s way of browsing, which is totally erratic, if not chaotic.  


To do so, once again, opinion data such as surveys prove to be insufficient. To be honest, who is able to remember absolutely all the websites, applications, social networks, and more that they visit day in and day out? Although some may give their best effort, much will surely slip through their memory. 


Therefore, to determine a consumer’s preferences and digital shopping habits, we can no longer rely on the information they provide us. Instead, we should turn to what is known as behavioral data. 



Discovering invisible trends in online consumer behavior with behavioral data 

As a marketing specialist, you’ve surely wondered what online consumers are really interested in. Well, using behavioral data makes it possible to find that out and, even better, to spot “invisible trends” that give your brand a competitive advantage. Some examples are:


  • Seller or retailer preferences 

  • Product category preferences 

  • Time spent on each visit 

  • Average ticket of real purchases 

  • Frequency of visits to certain sites or applications 

  • Products that are constantly added to the shopping cart 


This kind of data is collected without consumers actively providing it, since they do not have to respond to questionnaires or surveys. Rather, behavioral data is extracted directly from their devices—with their consent, of course. 

Get behavioral data

The key to success 

So, what is the key to having in-depth knowledge of online consumer behavior? The answer is conclusive: analyzing behavioral data. 

But, in addition to that, it is necessary to consider the following: 


  • It is essential to choose a data provider with safety measures and ethical treatment of information. With them, it will be possible to glean useful insights from reliable data, which helps spot trends. 

  • Although we’ve seen that surveys no longer suffice to fully understand online consumer behavior, this doesn’t mean we should discard them. Rather, combining both types of data—declared data (surveys) and observed (behavioral) data—is ideal to obtain a 360-degree view of the consumer. 


This will allow you, as a marketing director, to have a comprehensive and detailed view of your consumers, not to mention the ability you’ll have to learn about relevant trends before your competitors, in order to better position your brand or product. 



Netquest, a key partner for spotting market trends 

At Netquest, we know that you need the support of a trusted data provider to achieve the perfect data combination to power your marketing strategies. 


That’s why, for over 20 years, we’ve strived to discover innovative methods to collect, process, and combine high-quality data, ensuring compliance with the strictest international standards and certifications on the market, such as ISO 20252 and the GDPR. 


This has enabled us to help thousands of brands and companies to spot valuable trends, even in e-commerce metrics, and successfully position ourselves as the leading data provider in Latin America. 


An example of a success story analyzing online consumer behavior in Spain 

We’re among those who think that it’s better to show, not tell. So, we’ll share some interesting findings from a study we conducted on online consumer behavior in Spain based on consumers’ social media habits.


  • Sample: 10,000 panelists who use social media and have made online purchases 



  • We found that 86% of Internet users in Spain are on social media, with an average of 5.54 interactions and 1.13 hours of daily use. 

  • Of that 86% penetration rate, the majority corresponds to Facebook with 77%, followed by Instagram with nearly 64% and Twitter with 47%. 


But, beyond that: 

  • We found that 24% of social media users made at least one purchase on one of the top 20 e-commerce sites. 

  • We also discovered that Twitch came in first place with 35% of its users being buyers, followed by Pinterest with 32% and Twitter with 30%. 

  • Furthermore, Twitch users have a greater preference for making their purchases on AliExpress or Amazon. Meanwhile, Instagram users are more likely to shop on MediaMarkt or El Corte Inglés. 

  • In addition, TikTok users’ average spending on Amazon turned out to be €90, and Twitter users spent an average of €112. 


*Source: A Use Case with Netrica Data: Understanding the Online Shopper in Spain Through Their Use of Social Media.


If you want full access to this use case, you can review it here. 


In conclusion, online consumer behavior is an ever-evolving field. So, today more than ever, it’s important to always be up to speed and on the lookout for emerging trends—it’s the only way for each business to make informed and accurate decisions. 


Spot invisible trends and get a clearer view of your brand’s online consumer behavior with our services! Drop us a line here! 

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