For Business

Get to know the quality-focused shopper

Understanding the motivations of shoppers that love the details can help drive sales.

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As part of our ongoing series about consumer behavior, we’re examining the core motivations that drive decision making among the three most common shopper archetypes. Research conducted by our Buy with Prime shopper experience team indicates that the majority of consumers visiting your ecommerce site fall into one or more of these categories:

  • Ethical shoppers who seek to support businesses that match their personal values.
  • Quality shoppers who look diligently for authentic, high-quality products that last.
  • Economic shoppers who hunt for the lowest price or best deal.

“These archetypes help us understand how people are making decisions, why they’re making decisions, and how they make tradeoffs,” says Buy with Prime’s user experience (UX) Research Principal, Reece Dano. “But they’re not fixed segmentations. Shopper motivations can change based on context and needs, and they often might have multiple motivations going on at once, depending on factors like product category, price sensitivity, and how urgently they need something.”

Catering your UX to build strong connections to each of these personas is one of the best ways to ensure your brand has the broadest possible appeal. We’ve previously unpacked the motivations that drive ethical shoppers. Now let’s take a closer look at what makes quality shoppers tick.

What does the word “quality” mean to shoppers?

Before we delve into the specifics of what drives this segment of shoppers, it’s useful to define the term itself in the context of commerce.

Writing for the Harvard Business Review, professor David Garvin outlined eight dimensions of quality in what has become a seminal work on the topic. Understanding quality through this framework, Garvin wrote, allows a company to explore the opportunities it has to distinguish its products from others. While few companies can pursue all eight dimensions simultaneously (doing so would likely lead to unreasonably high prices), by approaching the concept of quality more expansively, companies can think more rigorously about consumers’ needs and preferences.

“Quality is not simply a problem to be solved,” Garvin argued, “it is a competitive opportunity.”

Although certain products, say cars, have objective quality metrics that are easy to compare (miles-per-gallon and acceleration), many product categories do not. When there’s less technical information to rely on, shoppers tend to lean on signals of perceived quality to make their decisions, including imagery and customer reviews.

Here is a breakdown of Garvin’s eight dimensions of quality:

1. Functional product performance
Performance refers to a product’s primary operating characteristics and can usually be gauged or ranked by measurable attributes, like the resolution of a television or the number of megapixels offered in a camera.

2. Choice of features
Features are the “bells and whistles” of products and services that supplement their basic functioning. A secondary aspect of performance, features are also measurable attributes, and shoppers tend to respond to the total quantity of options available, as opposed to the availability of one or two particular features. “Often, choice in options is quality,” wrote Garvin.

3. Reliability of function
What is the probability of a product malfunctioning or failing within a specified time period? Two of the more common measures of reliability are the mean time to first failure and the failure rate over time.

4. Conformance to established standards
According to Garvin, conformance is the degree to which a product’s design and operating characteristics meet established industry standards.

5. Durability
A measure of product life, durability is the amount of use a consumer gets from a product before it deteriorates and must be replaced. Shoppers tend to weigh the expected cost, in both dollars and personal inconvenience, of continued repairs against the cost of investing in a newer, more reliable model.

6. Serviceability
The speed, competence, and ease of repair, along with the attendant customer service.

7. Aesthetics
How a product looks, feels, sounds, tastes, or smells. Because aesthetics are a matter of personal judgment and individual preference, Garvin wrote, “in this dimension of quality, it is impossible to please everyone.”

8. Perceived Quality
“Reputation is the primary stuff of perceived quality,” noted Garvin. When consumers lack complete information about a product’s attributes, indirect measures are often their only basis for comparing brands. For example, durability is rarely observed directly, it is more often inferred. “In such circumstances,” Garvin went on, “images, advertising, and brand names—inferences about quality rather than the reality itself—can be critical.

Who is the quality-focused shopper?

The quality shopper’s primary motivation is to find high-quality products that last, even if the product isn’t particularly expensive. They usually seek the peace of mind that comes from knowing that a product is as good as described, and they generally avoid risk in their purchases as much as possible.

These shoppers are focused on determining what makes a product high-quality and if the merchant stands behind it. They’re also willing to pay a higher price.

Based on the findings and feedback (see bold quotes below) from the shopper experience research, here is a breakdown of typical attitudes and motivations exhibited by shoppers that prioritize quality.

Quality shoppers deeply consider their purchases
“I don’t make frivolous or impulsive purchases when I care about the product I’m buying. I spend a lot of time on both product research and price comparisons.”

To capture quality shoppers in the evaluation stage quickly establishing trust is paramount. Quality shoppers worry about losing money, and establishing confidence with a clean and polished site is critical. When quality shoppers visit an unfamiliar ecommerce store, they look for signals that indicate a merchant is trustworthy, and that it’s safe to make a purchase.

What to do: Do everything you can to build brand credibility and customer confidence on your site. There are many ways to boost trust with your UX. By following the fundamental principles of UX design and UX best practices, you can avoid some of the more common trust busters that tend to make any type of shopper hesitant. Your site layout should be easy to navigate, organized, and free from intrusive advertising and pop-ups. Your product range and product categories should be cohesive (a haphazard collection of random products won’t do). And always make sure your copy is clean and edited: spelling and grammatical errors will instantly raise red flags for quality shoppers.

Details are a big deal for quality shoppers
“I always want to know what the benchmark for good quality is. I tend to focus on the product attributes that matter, like fabric quality or ingredients.”

Many shoppers zoom in on product images to see the details of the fabric, stitching, finish, and materials. Low-quality, low-resolution images that don’t crisply show off the product design details can dissuade quality shoppers from making a purchase. Adding high-resolution videos to your product detail pages (PDPs) are another useful way to allow shoppers to dive into the details.

What to do: Make sure you use detailed, high-quality product images or videos to showcase the quality of your products from a variety of angles. According to the Baymard Institute, 56% of users begin exploring product images immediately after arriving on an ecommerce page, yet a quarter of all ecommerce sites don’t have product images with sufficient resolution.

Gain the confidence of this shopper archetype thorough, detailed product descriptions that focus on attributes of quality. Highlight all the applicable selling points that speak to performance, uniqueness, functionality, available options, reliability, materials, sourcing, manufacturing, and durability.

In general, give quality shoppers all the information they need to feel comfortable about making their purchase, including product measurements, specifications, warranty information, and even minute details that might help them come to a decision.

Reece offered some additional context on the importance of details: “Keep in mind that shoppers even think about factors like material sourcing when examining quality. Not only will they investigate things product material descriptions, they will consider things like how your sourced them and whether or not our product meets industry standards for product performance – things like technical waterproof ratings or sustainability certifications. And this information doesn’t need to be relegated to just your product descriptions. It can be added to your “About Us” sections and brand stories to highlight your commitment to quality.”

Quality shoppers find it difficult to commit to a purchase
“I am fearful of buyer’s remorse. So I often draw out the research process until I’m completely confident I have reached the best decision. It can sometimes take me weeks to make a big purchase because I spend so much time assessing merchants and their products.”

Quality shoppers are hyper-focused on the evaluation stage, and tend to spend a lot of time working on product comparisons. They methodically investigate brands, products, prices, warranties, and delivery options. Some quality-focused shoppers have many different product pages from different brands open at once to do their research.

“The more meticulous ones will actually create spreadsheets to compare products,” says Reece. “They’re looking at everything in a very thoughtful way. They’re not going to make a purchase the second they come to your site and find a good enough product, so you have to keep reengaging them and consider their needs.”

What to do: One way to help these shoppers decide is by featuring positive, authentic reviews from real people on your site. According to data collected by Statista, sites that display ratings and reviews increased conversion rates by as much as 38%. A survey conducted by Power Reviews also found that 98% of consumers feel that “reviews are an essential resource when making purchase decisions.”

Quality shoppers look for social proof to help form their perception of products, and they tend to consider customer-generated product reviews more trustworthy than merchant-provided content. Reviews from Amazon for Buy with Prime gives you the option to add those hard-earned reviews on your product pages. This type of social proof can help build shopper confidence and brand credibility.

“When it comes to pictures and videos of a product, quality shoppers look to the actual people who purchased the item. They want to learn about a product from folks like themselves,” Reece says. “We’ve seen that customer-generated content and placed in product reviews is 12 times more trustworthy than anything a merchant can provide in imagery or video.”

Customers are often the most effective salespeople, and influencer marketing can offer big rewards when it comes to communicating quality. According to one recent study conducted by the University of Washington, reallocating just 1% of your marketing spend to influencer strategy can result in a 16.6% increase in engagement.

“Try to find some way to highlight that the people who are writing the reviews are real and have attributes that people can relate to,” Reece explains. “Quality shoppers want to make sure that products fit their circumstances—for example, if they’re buying clothing, that they have the same height or chest size of the person writing the review.”

Quality shoppers prefer to experience the product
“Experiencing a product first-hand, in-store is the ultimate way to evaluate quality. Personal recommendations are also important. As a proxy, I’m keen to see detailed product-in-use videos and images from people who have already purchased the product.”

It should come as no surprise that quality shoppers love to judge products in person. According to a 2022 Forrester study commissioned by Shopify, 32% of brands said they’d be establishing or expanding their use of pop-up and in-person experiences, and 31% said they planned on establishing or expanding their physical retail footprint. Further, 52% of brands surveyed said they plan to offer virtual shopping by investing in technology that enables online customers to easily connect with brand representatives and do things like virtual try on clothing.

What to do: In-person shopping gives quality shoppers a chance to touch, feel, and try out products. While opening a brick-and-mortar store might not be in the cards for your ecommerce businesses, consider launching a physical pop-up shop or temporary showroom to allow quality shoppers to interact with your products.

You may also want to pilot virtual shopping experiences to “make it real” for shoppers on your site. If physical stores or virtual shopping technologies are not an option, videos–especially those featuring real people using your products–can help entice quality shoppers to make a purchase.

Return policies and warranties matter to quality shoppers
“If a merchant or brand believes in their product, then they will stand behind it with extended coverage or excellent return policies. When I’m still not 100% sure on an item, a great return policy or warranty will allow me to make a purchase without too much risk.”

Having clear money-back return policies and explicit product warranties with transparent shipping and payment options can assuage many concerns for this group of shoppers.

What to do: Give shoppers a Prime shopping experience directly on your site. Adding Buy with Prime to your ecommerce site allows you to offer a trusted and convenient checkout experience, transparent delivery estimates, fast, free shipping with easy returns, and A-to-z guarantee. These familiar online shopping benefits can help bolster confidence among quality shoppers.

“In the absence of complete trust in the product quality or the merchant, the Amazon guarantee gives them the confidence that they can go ahead and make a purchase even if they’re not 100% sure,” Reece says.

Ask for feedback to improve the quality of your product

It may seem obvious, but as a brand, you should be continuously evolving and improving your product. No matter the shopper archetype, the quality of your product is always going to play a significant role as a sales driver.

Zugu, an iPad case brand I work with, is one perfect example,” says Buy with Prime’s head of tech business development Dan Jeong. “Product quality is the reason they’ve been able to rise to the top in their category. They leveraged all their customer feedback. If you look at their product and how it’s evolved and improved over time, it’s incredibly impressive. They have something like 27,000 five-star reviews on Amazon alone and are consistently in the top ten for iPad cases because they focus so much on the customer experience and implementing feedback on their product. And because of it, they’re a mid-market brand that’s pushing more units than some enterprise-level brands.”

What to do: Use surveys and feedback tools to capture customer feedback about what’s working and what’s not. Tapping into the sentiments of your customers–especially repeat purchasers–can help you prioritize product innovation.

A lot of online brands like you have to wear many hats to run your business effectively, and you don’t always have the time to gather and act on customer feedback. Simplifying operations is one way to create more time to invest in innovating your products. Check out these time-saving hacks that might help you and your team carve out time for product innovation.

As you optimize your website experience to appeal to quality shoppers, consider using the trust of Prime to build shopper confidence. Learn how Buy with Prime can help you tap into the needs and motivations of quality shoppers.

Kelby Johnson