17 January 2010

The Changing Consumer Decision Journey

In June 2009, McKinsey released survey findings of research efforts to audit purchase decisions of 20,000 customers across the US, Germany & Japan. Called “The Consumer Decision Journey” it advocated a change in how marketing should change in response to how consumers were reaching outside the funnel, changing the way they research and buy products.

The summary of the findings, with credit to McKinsey, were IMHO, as follows:
  • Increased new channels and constant barrage of advertising, had led consumers to choose few brands/category than spends would suggest.
  • When consumers are ready to start the decision process, ignited by a new need, they actively look for information rather than wait. Digital channels have primarily driven this change.
  • The funnel now is circular rather than linear

  • Being in the initial consideration set is no guarantee you will remain there. Your weakest link, is most likely to let you down and you need to have focused plays across stages of the decision journey
  • Finally, it’s not a must a marketer needs to invest at every stage of the decision journey. Insights, budgets and brand’s priorities can be used to build more focus into the investments.
In the last 6 months since the piece was published, I have constantly thought of this framework to base a few of my interactive marketing strategy recommendations. Even if we haven’t gone through the whole of the research & implications with clients, the logic resonates and sells itself very well when we explain our recommendation  – This is where you are - this is where you want to be- these are how consumer decisions are being made - this is what we recommend you do - this is how we will track impact.

And more importantly, I have kept a track of how I am making buying decisions, and it’s not far from the truth.

The Consumer Decision Journey is a fascinating piece of research finding, if you have a McKinsey Premium membership. If you don’t, you the abridged version is a great start.
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