Thought Leadership

Technology Changed the Purchase Journey, Now Research Has to Change Too

July 30, 2018
Author: Chad King
Technology Changed the Purcahse Journey

Do you know where your customers are coming from, how they decide which providers they choose and why? Technology has drastically changed the purchase journey for most businesses on multiple levels. Most purchase journey research is still treating the path as linear even though it is becoming increasingly dynamic and web-like, with unlimited interactions. While the linear-path to purchase journey research allows you to gain a general understanding of what your customers’ purchase path looks like, it doesn’t give you the details to craft a high-functioning customer acquisition and retention plan.

The reality is that capturing “how and when” people buy is pretty easy. But the journey is complex, so the tough part is distilling the data into useful information so you know exactly which actions to take. Path-to-purchase research should go beyond what the journey looks like—it should reveal the most important interactions for your potential customers and your brand.

Mapping Your Customer Journey

Every purchase starts with the recognition of need. This moment triggers the start of customers’ purchase journey, but the underlying needs and motivations can be very different and are often unique to what your company offers. Each of these “needs” often take very different paths to purchase. From there, you must identify the underlying motivation and understand the common triggers of need recognition and the corresponding shopping goals to help you identify how to reach your specific target groups.

Once need recognition takes place, is your brand top-of-mind? If so, is it being considered? Brand awareness doesn’t always translate to consideration. Understanding why your brand is included and excluded from consideration—and how to fix that—is a key component to driving new-customer acquisition.

Furthermore, because the customer journey is dynamic, your product or service can enter and leave consideration at any point. When potential customers consider your brand—but drop it in favor of another—do you know why?

As you can see in the graphic below, “drop” maps illustrate where potential customers are lost in each path group, revealing which friction points have the greatest impact on losing potential customers. Understanding that impact is key to retaining shoppers.

Path-to-Purchase Overview

The Importance of Going Beyond Traditional Path-to-Purchase Research

Equally important in path to purchase research is the recognition that a sizeable proportion of consumers have no purchase path at all beyond the point of need recognition. These shoppers, or “pre-selectors,” have been influenced over time to the point that, upon the moment of need recognition, they already know what brand they will use without considering any other. Meaning, companies outside that particular brand have no chance to influence these shoppers’ decision with traditional path touchpoints (promotions, website, face-to-face interaction, etc.), emphasizing the importance of passive influences such as brand reputation and word-of-mouth. By exploring this population independently, you get the insight needed to target and influence these shoppers prior to their moment of need recognition, which can give savvy companies an inside advantage.

Escalent’s Path-to-Purchase Research to Surpass Campaign Goals

We were approached by a major national bank to help it identify the key moments in its customers’ journey to opening a new checking account.

We constructed trigger group profiles to gain an understanding of each group’s motivation and pain points and developed tailored recommendations for the brand. Through Escalent’s unique Path-to-Purchase methodology, the bank learned exactly where it was losing prospects prior to purchase, and used that knowledge to design a successful, targeted national account acquisition campaign.

The results were impressive, the bank:

  • Exceeded the sales goals for its checking account direct mail and student checking account acquisition campaigns
  • Ranked as the most improved brand in a 2017 National Brand Index.
  • Achieved an all-time high on internal customer satisfaction and use
  • Was a finalist for a 2018 ARF David Ogilvy Award for Unexpected Targeting and Segmentation.

Our Point of View

Escalent’s path-to-purchase solution captures the dynamic nature of the shopping experience. It does more than describe the path: it pinpoints the most common and influential interactions and prescribes the right strategy for reaching customers within their unique journeys. The result is a well-informed strategy of how and where you can win more business.

Contact me if you would like to know more about our unique and actionable path-to-purchase methodology.

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Chad King
Chad King
Vice President, Financial Services

Chad King is a vice president of research and consulting in the Financial Services Research division. For the past 5 years at Escalent he has led qualitative and quantitative research for financial services companies around CX, path-to-purchase, segmentation, product development and message/concept testing. Through these various types of research, Chad has placed a consistent emphasis on delivering insightful and actionable results. He earned an MBA in marketing and finance from Kent State University and a bachelor’s degree in Engineering from Michigan State University. When not conducting research, Chad enjoys soaking up family time—mostly outdoors—with his wife and two sons.