MarketingCharts: Online Shoppers’ Path to Purchase Becomes More Complex and Personal
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary of a current article from MarketingCharts, a Watershed Publishing publication providing up-to-to-minute data and research to marketers.
Seventy-three percent of online shoppers agree that their path to purchase is more complex and less direct than it used to be, according to an About.com study. As the traditional purchase funnel has been upended and turned into more of a "loop," per the study, shoppers indicate that shopping has taken on a more personal nature. That is, 79 percent agree that their relationship with brands is much more personal than ever before, and 68 percent agree that shopping today is less about the brands/products themselves and more about them (what they’re feeling or needing).
The survey was limited to 1,600 American respondents who own smartphones, seek information online and on mobile at least once a week, and are frequent shoppers (including browsing) in at least 2 of 8 categories (food, home, health, personal finance, tech, fashion/beauty/style, autos, travel).
The evolution of the shopping experience means that for 87 percent of respondents, there’s more to it than simply "identifying a need, exploring options and purchasing." Instead, consumers identify six common behaviors along the path to purchase:
- Openness – "being receptive to new or better experiences"
- Realized want or need – "something acts as a catalyst; gives the consumer a reason to start looking into things she wants or needs to do"
- Learning and education – "understanding the fundamentals in order to make a purchase the consumer can feel good about"
- Seeking ideas and inspiration – "looking for, noticing, keeping track of examples, thought-starters, motivators in order to take the next step"
- Research and vetting – "compare options; look for deals; takes price, value, reviews into account, as well as personal associations with brands
- Post-purchase evaluation and expansion – "consumer uses or experiences a purchase and decides how she feels; might post reviews, share experiences"
Consumers move in "spider webs" from one behavior to the next, influenced by different media and devices along the way. For example, social media and TV are more important for ideas and inspiration than learning/education, but the opposite is true for store visits.
- Online Shoppers Say Their Path to Purchase is Becoming More Complex, Personal – MarketingCharts
- The Purchase Loop (study) – About.com
Why do you think consumers in the About.com survey said the online path to purchase has become both more complex and personal? Does it make sense to now liken the path to purchase to more of a loop than a straight line? What does this all mean for e-commerce sites looking to attract and keep customers?