October 24, 2019


Path to Purchase: Modern Consumer Shopping Behavior

Always Driving To Purchase

Modern Consumer Shopping Behavior

With advertising spend expected to reach $223B in 2019 and $241B in 2020 (GroupM This Year, Next Year: Worldwide Media Forecast June 2019), it would appear there are endless opportunities for marketers to deliver growth. But it’s no secret that being a CMO today has its challenges. While countless new ways to reach audiences in paid media are constantly being cultivated, this evolution has resulted in consumers being inundated with ads. As the chart below illustrates, only 42% of the roughly 400 paid ads consumers see each day are recalled, and only 3% actually engage consumers. This means that today’s marketing spend must work harder to deliver bottom line results. With so much competition in the marketplace, brands must ensure their messaging breaks through the clutter and connects with consumers at key moments of decision making. The problem they face most is: How?

With the pressure to show return on media investment, marketers are being faced with a dilemma – deliver short term brand performance via the more immediate lower funnel behaviors (site visits, sales, etc.) or invest in long term brand health. While technology and the widely available leveraged analytics, such as Market Mix Modeling and MultiTouch Attribution, are supporting this scheme, are they truly delivering on the full picture? Getting to understand how best to optimize brand performance and drive efficient media ROIs with those analytics is, of course, commendable and necessary …. but short-sighted!

Marketers and communication professionals need to be able to consider and account for the underlying consumer attitudes and behaviors that are vital in building strong brands in the long run. But this doesn’t happen overnight. Brands need to earn their position in consumers’ minds and hearts to generate lasting, bounding impressions, resulting in strong brand biases. Here’s where purchase journey thinking comes into play.

In an effort to ‘de-code’ the true impact and efficacy of media, marketers not only need to look at which channels are driving sales but also when, how and why each one is evoking engagement with consumers. Harnessing this purchase journey lens allows us to understand how media moves consumers from initially forming brand awareness and perceptions to establishing emotional connections with a brand to, ultimately, contributing to brand selection – the Holy Grail of marketing!

Understanding the role that channels play across different stages of a consumer’s journey, and not just at the point of purchase, allows us to give ‘credit where credit is due’ to channels at the specific point in time and attribute their impact either to building brand health or to purchase. This is especially important since we know that forming strong, longer-lasting bonds with consumers early on is key to overcoming the current trend of ad bombardment and inherent declining brand loyalty.

Furthermore, we’ve learned from MMMs that only about 10-35% of brands’ sales are directly attributed to current media/marketing, while the remainder credited to the ‘baseline’ of equity building from past media/marketing efforts. (GroupM Market Mix Modeling benchmarks). Recent research from Nielsen also quantifies the long-term value of media even further stating a three-fold greater sales lift than those typically seen from a short-term impact. So why are we operating in parallel tracks, focusing on shorter term, lower funnel analytics independently of longer term, top of the brand health funnel metrics? Not integrating these analytics together into a holistic solution falls short in capturing the synergy and understanding how one impacts and improves the other. Yet with a purchase journey lens, marketers can develop a better understanding of how and which media contribute toward building brand bias and consideration and how branding aids in moving consumers across stages of their purchase journey to drive business results.

(Adapted from a case study by WaveMaker)