Path to Purchase – Connecting Dots in the “New Era of Shopping”

By Sean Dunn (originally published on Nepa)

Recently we covered the basics of Path to Purchase in our Q&A with Matt Nitzberg. This week, we’re talking to Lindsay Cowan – who was invited to speak on understanding Omnichannel shoppers at the upcoming ESOMAR Shopper Experience Summit (June 6th, Amsterdam.)  Lindsay provides us a great preview of her talk on how leading brands are  connecting the dots to generate mores sales and build a stronger brand.

Q: First, why is it important for organizations to understand path to purchase?

A: It’s important because organizations are missing growth opportunities by not understanding the role and value of online and offline touchpoints in this “new era of shopping”.

Companies use path to purchase insights to optimize media investments across all paid, unpaid, earned and owned touchpoints. This understanding is helping companies create integrated communications and campaign strategies for different shopper mindsets.

Q: You mentioned we’ve entered a “new era of shopping.” How do you see new consumer behaviors creating new opportunities for marketers that understand path to purchase?

A: Marketers that see beyond the generic, one-size fits all stats we hear over and over again like “70% of all decisions are made before the arriving at shelf,” are winning the battle to convert new shoppers at different points along the Path to Purchase. Consumers are increasingly taking non-linear journeys to buy products, smart marketers that connect these dots across online and offline channels will better understand how touchpoints trigger or influence action at different stages of the journey. The opportunity then is for marketers to invest more effectively to attract new shoppers, get on the shopping list, optimize conversion and increase penetration.

Q: In the new era of shopping what are some of the new KPIs marketers should be watching?

A: We focus on developing “touchpoint effectiveness” rankings so that investment and focus can be prioritized to the right areas to create optimum shopper conversion. I believe that any approach should isolate why, where, when and how shoppers are converting or not converting – and measure the role of each touchpoint individually, as well as in combination with other touchpoints. To determine this, we track the impact of all offline or online interactions to understand which ones influence and which ones convert.

Q: In your presentation you’ll be talking about discovering hotspots and opportunities after diagnosing path to purchase data. Do you have any examples of “Ah Hah!” moments when Nepa helped a client improve their strategy?

A: Being that the path to purchase is unique for each category, each project we’ve done has several “ah hah” moments. One key area is to understand how shoppers research before buying…..even in a low engagement, high penetration category. Interestingly this is not just true for categories in developed markets, but also for emerging markets. Even where the majority of purchases are still made in store in these markets, shoppers are still researching and using offline touchpoints as vital influencers in their decision making. So, the “Ah Hah” moments have come when a client understand specifically which touchpoints they need to target to which customers and when.

A specific insight that I will share in Amsterdam is that a brand that operated on the traditional belief that 70% of consumers had made their decision before shelf identified that only about 45% had fully planned their purchase – we helped them understand what type of shoppers could be influenced. In a category where influencing just 5% of these undecided shoppers to make a category purchase equals over 3 million pounds per month, this knowledge was a true game changer.

Q: What’s the most important take away from your presentation that you want to emphasize?

A: To win in this “new era of shopping” brands must master the path to purchase by understanding the effectiveness of every touchpoint, both online and offline, and as part of an interconnected shopper path.

Q: And finally, for those of us that will not be in Amsterdam, how can we learn more?

A: Immediately, you can pop over to blog posts by colleagues, Robert Beatus and Matt Nitzberg, that provide additional perspective on the challenges marketers face amidst changing buyer journeys. After, the presentation in Amsterdam, I will be hosting a webinar with the same content – and you can register your interest in that here. And, for those that are very eager to understand their consumers purchase journey, contact me here. 

This has been a real pleasure, Sean. I’m excited to create the webinar for all who are interested.

Thanks, Lindsay – we really appreciate the insight. Have a great time in Amsterdam – it sounds like the ESOMAR audience is in store for a really insightful presentation.

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