Breaking the Consumer Stress Cycle

January 7, 2019 | 3 minute read
Text Size 100%:

Since the beginning of time, people have made decisions based on their emotions, regardless of age, gender or location. We know that up to 90 percent of the decisions we make are based on emotion, rather than rational thought and measured consideration.

All sorts of emotions drive our behavior. Depending on how people are feeling at any given moment, they may make completely different decisions. After a good day at work, for example, you might head out for a drink with colleagues to relax. But after a long stressful day, you might want to just go home and binge watch Netflix. Emotions drive our decisions and actions, from day-to-day decisions on what we eat and drink to long-term actions on what we choose to do with our lives.

Stress, in particular, is a huge driver of strong emotion and irrational behavior. Those who are stressed may become withdrawn, irritable or anxious. In the world of online retail, this sort of emotion can have huge implications for the bottom line of brands.

Stress Leading to More Stress

The therapeutic and addictive nature of retail therapy is already well documented. The process of filling up a basket (whether physical or digital) provides instant gratification and an escape from the stresses of everyday life, boredom, sadness, and hunger.

However, research by Clicktale has found that instead of alleviating stress, many brands are exacerbating it through a poor digital experience. For example, 12% of consumers say that online shopping actively makes them feel stressed, while 15% have actually lost their temper online. Couple that with slow loading times (which irritate 81% of customers), checkout codes that don’t work (annoying 86% of customers) or checkouts that freeze (stressing out 75% of customers), consumers often find themselves stuck in a cycle of looking for a great digital experience without retailers actually providing them with one.

Which means looking at conversion rates alone is not a great idea. Even if one customer has a great experience and converts, there could be a dozen more who come, get frustrated by a confusing page layout or a complicated search feature and close the browser, never to return.

Breaking the Stress Cycle

The causes of this stress in the customer journey exist because brands haven’t finessed the digital shopping experience they provide, nor have they effectively used data that is readily available to inform them about what customers really want from a digital experience.

The fact is that data from these customer footprints are there, readily available but often untapped. When consumers go online, they display a ‘digital’ body language in a similar way they portray actual body language when they go into a shop. If retailers can tap into that data, they can start to understand customer behavior better, and uncover what part of their digital experience is stressing customers out.

The digital body language manifests itself in multiple ways, which, when combined, give marketers a more complete picture of consumer behavior and any potential sources of stress. The indicators of digital body language include mouse movements, hovers, app taps, scrolls and more. For example, stressed customers often display a unique digital body language with angry ‘rage’ clicks when links are slow to open, and then aggressive, fast and directionless mouse movements. Marketers can see exactly where these occurrences happen and can iron out the stressful parts of the experience.

The key is to use experience analytics to examine these mouse movements, taps, swipes, and ‘rage clicks’ to build up a picture of the digital body language. Because sometimes even the smallest of stimuli can have a strong impact on customer emotions, especially when it comes to irritatingly slow search speeds or poor page layouts. By resolving pain points along the customer journey, brands can truly provide a great digital experience and achieve better business success as a result.

After all, given that so many consumers are using shopping as a way to alleviate stress, the last thing you’ll want to do is to cause them more stress!

Want more? 

Context impacts customer's online behavior. Find out why, and how to understand it by downloading our ebook.


Geoff Galat

Geoff has held leadership marketing roles at companies including Mercury Interactive, Luminate, Tumbleweed, and Tealeaf, which was acquired in 2012 by IBM. As Chief Marketing Officer of Tealeaf, he led the creation of the new digital customer experience management strategic market category, focused on strategically enhancing the way consumers interact online using advanced analytics. Once Tealeaf was fully integrated into IBM, Geoff served as Chief Marketing Officer of another IBM acquisition, Silverpop. He subsequently headed marketing at a new venture of AGT International, serving as CMO of the entire company.

Previous Post

It’s Time to Let Go of Your Brand Message on Social Media

Chris Zilles | 3 min read

Next Post

4 Resources for Your Team to Get Up to Speed on Mobile Marketing

John Rampton | 3 min read