Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 2783
, Published on 26 November 2013
Influencing a consumer’s purchase decision is a crucial role of a marketer. A potential customer needs to be targeted at specific touch points where he is most prone to influence. A customer purchase journey maps out the various touch points which effectively shape the final purchase decision of a consumer. Different mechanisms have already been proposed, explaining how individuals make a purchase decision. The traditional customer decision journey was based on the ‘Funnel Approach’ where consumers would start at the wide end of the funnel with a number of potential brands in the consideration set till the final purchase decision is made.
Kotler proposed a five stage model encompassing the buying decision process. The five stages are Problem recognition, Information search, Evaluation of alternatives, Purchase decision and Post-purchase behavior. Although it is not necessary that every consumer passes through all the five stages, the model captures all the individual considerations involving a new purchase.
Now, digital media has expanded the customer decision journey. The advent of digital media has changed the way in which consumers frame their purchase decision. Consumers now have a wider range of choices across different platforms (mobiles, search, and social media) and ‘post-purchase’ is no longer the end point of this journey. Strategies now need to focus upon getting the customer’s attention, engaging them and building loyalty. The updated customer decision journey focusses on the relevant touch points that digital media opens up for customers.
Mckinsey proposed a non-linear approach to the customer decision journey in the context of digital media. Since individuals are now open to different channels of information, a single click is enough to bring a person closer to the brand, or away from the brand. Their research shows that two-thirds of the touch points during the evaluation phase involve customer driven activities like internet search, online reviews and recommendations.
The customer purchase journey can be adapted specifically to the mobile platform in the following way –
Awareness: Customer needs to be aware of the brand whether or not he has the intent to purchase. The main point here is to be visible to the consumer when he or she needs or is expressing an interest for a product/service. Even when the individual is not expressing a need, the brand should be known to him so that he considers it immediately when the need arises. Hence it is important for a brand to have a presence in organic and paid search, forums for related categories, on local searches and location apps when a customer is on the go.
On the mobile medium, it can relate to brand awareness through mobile search and display ads, mobile videos, mobile website, social media engagement and blogs.
Mobile discovery of brands is different than on the desktop. They are time constrained and do not want to skim through a lot of search results (Camden, 2011). They want a definitive answer which will help them make immediate decision. Hence it is important that the brand appears on top of search result and sponsored ads for relevant search terms.
Comparison - The upcoming trend is that consumers reach for their mobile phones to research and access information. Customers now want to know exactly which brands are available, at what price and how are the reviews for the brand, so that they can make the most informed decision. Brands that rely on in-store communication or their own website lose out on the opportunity to convert from the awareness set to the consideration set.
Moreover for consumer durables like automobiles, comparison of prices and features becomes an important driver for purchase. Google research also suggests that customers with an intent to purchase search for generic terms first to come up with a set of alternatives and then research on certain chosen brands. In this sphere blogs and review sites, aggregator mobile sites, mobile coupons and discounts help in positioning the brand better in relation to competitors.
Purchase – By providing customers with a value proposition that is available only on the mobile platform, a brand can build its exclusive customer base. This can be in the form of discount codes or additional information not available in store or on the regular website. The codes can be sent to the customer via SMS/application and this creates the additional value for a customer through mobile. This also creates an incentive for the customer to visit the store and buy more once they are inside. TNS publishes an annual Mobile Life Study, based on responses from 38,000 people in 43 countries. According to the report, 39.7 percent consumers in India prefer an access to information on their phone than speaking to sales assistants in stores. They are willing to engage with brand offerings since 11 per cent of the smartphone owners in India are keen to receive mobile coupons.
Post Purchase experience – Excellent customer service and customer engagement factor in here. Social media and mobile apps should help build brand loyalty with its customers. Hence by providing a rich, engaging and functional experience, a long lasting relationship can be established with the customer. Constant updates about deals and new products can be sent to the customer by SMS, mails or through an app to further engage the customer. However studies have shown that there is a negative relationship between excessive advertising through SMS and trust. Consumers believe that brands that send irrelevant information through SMS build distrust (Alak & Alnawas, 2010).
Sharing – Social media is now increasingly being accessed by users on mobile phones. This means content sharing through mobile phones is also on the rise. Any bad reviews or references about products can prove to be detrimental to a brand. Hence efficient touch points in this stage propagate good word of mouth and fuel the comparison stage. Social media engagement, review sites, forums and aggregator sites play an important role here.
In India, there is a rise in the number of consumers with purchase intent using mobiles at different points in the customer journey. Indian brands are constantly coming up with new ways to engage the mobile audience through applications, mobile video and SMS. This also implies that a great amount of customer information is available at the marketer’s fingertips. With increasing mobile and tablet penetration, it is important for brands to evolve their engagement techniques across mediums to cater to the changing audience.