On The Path To Purchase

Crowd DNA strategic initiatives director Sarah Brierley explains how, through exploring stories, behaviour and culture, we bring shape and order to the otherwise chaotic business of understanding the purchase journey…

At Crowd DNA we’re increasingly asked by clients how they can best understand the paths to purchase their various consumers take. It’s easy to see why: what with showrooming, webrooming and now even ‘boomerooming’ creating new blends of online and offline behaviours, the significance of consumers’ post-purchase brand relationship, and the ever-increasing expectation for personalisation, it’s increasingly difficult for brands to understand how to deliver the right message at the right touchpoint.

What’s more, there’s a multitude of variables at play. Different consumers exhibit different purchase patterns – so frequent purchasers often make faster, more unconscious decisions than infrequent purchasers, and influencers can seek out more touchpoints than non-influencers. We see different behaviours by category too – so an emotional, brand-driven purchase in fashion looks very different from a rational, deliberated purchase in financial services. And the journey looks different if the purchase is considered, or habitual, or impulse, or ‘for me’, or ‘for someone else’, and so it goes on…

With all of this complexity, where do you begin? We pooled our experience and thinking with esteemed neighbours and partners BD Network: enter our combined Path To Purchase Framework.

We think of the path to purchase as a continuing narrative: a story told by brands, followed by consumers. To deliver powerful consumer stories across the path to purchase we need insight into how brands can have most impact at each stage. And of course, the path is not linear – post-purchase, consumers simply loop back to the beginning of the journey.

So in a path to purchase project, we examine lots of consumer journeys through the lens of a simple model, and for each stop on the path, we identify the significant touchpoints and influences.

But we don’t stop there. For the truest read on the path to purchase, we also need to look to the behavioural and cultural factors. At every stage of a purchase journey, decisions can be conscious or unconscious – only by selecting the right research methods and pinpointing the likely cognitive biases at play can we capture the nuances this presents. And no purchase decision is made in isolation of the culture in which the consumer is immersed – so we explore the cultural orthodoxy of the category and identify cultural trends that may be influencing behaviour.

Only after we’ve looked at all of these points do we believe we have what’s required to paint a realistic picture of path to purchase, and to deliver the most powerful consumer stories. From there, we piece the components together in an intensive analysis phase, culminating in deliverables that shine a bright light on the purchase journey and ensure commercial impact for the client. All in all, a culturally-informed slice of understanding with the consumer at its heart.

To learn more, take a look at our one pager on the subject: PDF one-pager or get in touch