Connecting With Customers At Each Stage Of The Purchase Cycle

Posted by Loren Heinzeroth

November 25, 2013

A recent study referenced in Advertising Ageis another indicator of how important it is to tailor message content and media touch points to the unique interests of customers at each stage of the relationship. The study is an effort of MEC Media and is derived from research involving more than 100,000 consumers worldwide.

The research has some interesting implications for allocating communications efforts with the purchase cycle in mind. For example, what are the most effective ways to reach out to consumers in your category as they progress from "passive" (not actively shopping) stage to "purchase" stage? Are most decisions made in-store, or are the stages leading up to that possibly even more important? What are the best strategies for connecting your brand with the triggering events that most influence purchases?

Though there are some differences by category, and only 12 categories are represented so far in the data, here is a snapshot of observations that seem generally applicable:

1. Across all categories, from toothpaste to cars, 53% of consumers who bought a particular product or service said they had a strong idea of which brand they would purchase before they started the buying process. One interpretation: aiming all of your resources at the moment of purchase may not get you on the consumers' short list.

2. When brand bias is low before purchase, earned media exposure such as social platforms, word of mouth, online blogs and reviews -- are important touch points as consumers consider the opinions of others before deciding on the brands they will weigh further.

3. Consumers with a bias for one brand can still be swayed by promotions and other tactics, of course, as mentioned in the report. Paying attention to the "gap" between what people think and what they do is important.

As we frequently discuss with clients, there needs to be a strong integration between brand marketing and shopper marketing. Once again, it's all about understanding the customer -- developing insights about the psychology of choice in a media spectrum that offers many new tools to connect with your customers.

Topics: Consumer Retail Channels