The aim of every marketer is to reach consumers at the time which most influences their decision making on the pathway to purchase. This is when the consumer is open to influence and will welcome brand and product information.
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Traditional thought is that there is a ‘funnel approach’ when making a purchase decision. We start with a number of brands / products we’re aware of and through a series of stages the number of options are systematically reduced. Think of those classic models from any Marketing 101 course such as the AIDA model of: Awareness to Interest to Desire to Action.
This type of purchase journey may well be true for a number of purchase situations but that’s not to say it’s a linear process of elimination for every need-state, for every category or for every individual.
As researchers we are looking to understand the particular traits of different purchase cycles across categories. As a starting point, there are some common elements which can help guide us in shaping these different paths to purchase. These are:
Something worth highlighting is that at the pre-contemplation stage a number of touchpoints are continually influencing us, even before we enter active consideration. These include:
- Word of mouth
- Social media
- The internet
- Past purchases
Take many FMCG purchase journeys, they’re about reinforcing habits and loyalty or they’re looking to encourage switching by disrupting others’ established habits. Through the sheer amount of choice that is available for some FMCG categories, this can result in some very late decision making.
The next time you’re in a supermarket, take a look at how people are reacting to a whole aisle of cereal options. With so much choice, you’ll see people changing their minds right at the point of purchase.
This poses the question: To what extent are brand experiences required in an FMCG purchase journey?