Part 2 – Four Key Truths About The Consumer Journey
Sophie Cork , Boutiques’ DISCOtiquer and Senior Planner
This is the second piece of our F#%! The Funnel series, outlining our alternative approach to the AIDA funnel and we, as a strategy-driven channel agency, came up with something better.
In order to have a credible alternative solution to the funnel model, we need to strip it back to the fundamentals of consumer buying behaviour and agree on some core principles. Here’s some of what we think are the most important truths about the purchase journey…
1. Passive consumers don’t care about your brand
A common misconception that brands have is that everyone in their target market is equally likely to engage with their marketing. Most commonly seen with prospecting activity, brands might not understand why ads targeting their core customer demographic aren’t driving the response they expected.
While it may be hard to swallow, ultimately the answer is simple – consumers who aren’t actively in market for what you offer do not care about your brand. They are just going about their life not thinking about the category or brands within it simply because it’s just not relevant to them right now. In today’s digital age, consumers are bombarded with information and adopt a level of blindness to messages that aren’t relevant to their current position to avoid becoming utterly overwhelmed. This means that the majority of people will be unengaged receivers of marketing messages and are unlikely to retain the information they’ve received, let alone engage with the brand delivering it.
We refer to this as the ‘living’ stage of the journey – a state of passive consumption where the likelihood of engagement is at its lowest, and where brands have to work their hardest to achieve cut-through and be remembered for when that consumer – wherever down the line – does enter the market.
2. Awareness is not enough
That leads us on to the next core truth, as if passive consumers aren’t actively engaging with messaging about things not relevant to them, how can brands ensure their ‘living stage’ marketing is effective? The foundation of brand building is establishing and maintaining not only a presence of brand but communication of values, features, benefits and beliefs to consumers. In order to be considered as a brand of choice for when the time comes, consumers need to have built an understanding of what makes your brand unique, how your brand can address and meet their specific needs, and whether your brand appeals to their values.
This is why simply being known about is not enough, and a sporadic approach or one-off ‘brand awareness’ campaign will not be impactful. Brands need to be consistent with their brand building and shift focus from people just having heard of the brand to what it is they want people to think and feel about their brand instead. A move away from solely looking at brand awareness uplift as a measure of success is key to this, instead looking to brand impression tracking as an indicator of what associations are being made with the brand by consumers.
3. Brands have little influence over consumers entering the market
Triggers are a highly important feature of the buying journey as they serve as the prompt catalyst for a consumer’s decision to enter the market and begin their buying journey. They are what takes someone from ‘living’ to ‘looking’. Where brands have opportunity to play a big part in influencing decision-making, they have relatively little influence over when a consumer enters the market.
Triggers are almost always dictated by need, whether that’s because something is broken or worn out or because of an external event like a seasonal change or life circumstance, which are out of a brand’s control. And while brands can help to establish a perception of need, for example by building desire in the category or by providing solutions to consumer problems, ultimately it’s hard to make a consumer who had no interest become someone who is now ready to buy. This has become even more striking for brands as cost of living pressures continue, as consumers are more cautious about spending and are reducing frequency of non-essential purchases.
4. There is no one size fits all
A major pitfall of any consumer path to purchase model is that it’s impossible to make it truly representative of the full range of buying experiences. For example, contemporary marketers emphasise the importance of both the emotional and rational states of consideration that a consumer experiences along the journey, but with this comes the risk of overemphasising what takes place when a buying decision is made or how complex the journey is. For example, are we tapping into our core emotional needs when choosing which meal deal to buy? Do we really need to establish an emotional connection with our toilet cleaner brand of choice?
Much in the same way that the journey to purchase can look wildy different across categories, different types of consumers will approach purchasing decisions in a variety of ways. Research shows that older consumers are more likely to be more considered about their purchase and spend longer researching products online than their younger counterparts. They’re also more likely to look to online reviews and recommendations as part of their consideration of a brand, whereas young consumers are more likely to be influenced by the types of content and online presence of a brand they’re considering.
While a ‘master’ model can be a highly useful tool to explain the core theories and principles around consumer journeys, marketers should be mindful of the motivations, barriers, features and touchpoints specific to the category at hand.
Stay tuned for our third and final piece in this content series about our own alternative to the traditional funnel, built with these truths at its core.
Feeling fired up after reading that and wanna talk?
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