The path to purchase has evolved, and I am grieving. Sometimes I even whip out my old college textbooks and stare at that uncomplicated model and am reminded of simpler times.
Follow these few simple steps and I promise, you’ll have made it through the cycle of grief to the other side. (Yes, Adele’s “Hello” should be playing in your head at this point.)
Step 1: Get on board.
The CPG industry is approaching the tipping point. Consumers are embracing technologies, devices, and services—all, which make their lives easier. Making tasks like shopping, cooking, and even getting gas—more efficient and frankly, more fun.
According to The Digital Future: A Game Plan for Consumer Packaged Goods, within the next five years, CPG companies need to plan for a so-called 1-5-10 market, in which digital’s current 1 percent penetration will likely expand to 5 percent and could accelerate to as much as 10 percent in short order. The five percent represents nearly one-half of total CPG growth during the next five years, meaning those companies who don’t rise to the occasion will risk it all, and those that do will establish their position as industry leaders and that will be difficult to change.
In summary, times they are a changin’, acceptance is key. And really, s*** or get off the pot, as my father would say.
Step 2: Acknowledge the evolved path to purchase.
The future is here and it’s digital. Great, right? Brands can spend less money, reaching the right consumers in the right places, at the right times. Sort of.
The 1-5-10 CPG market means an extremely fragmented path to purchase as consumers regularly switch back and forth between digital and physical channels.
To drive CPG conversions, it’s no longer only about SEO and website visibility to hopefully inspire a quick “trip” to purchase. Although these things still matter (don’t forget about them), there’s been a very clear shift toward an emphasis on the “journey”—and I really mean journey—to purchase when consumers can, and are, jumping on and off the path to purchase at any point in time…multiple times.
So, how can we develop marketing plans knowing full well we will lose them and pick them back up at a different stage of purchase multiple times?
Step 3: Be consistent. Be aware.
We are officially in the trenches of omni-channel marketing. In Lehman’s terms “it’s all marketing.” Every last bit of it. Each platform needs to have awareness of the other. Your website needs to know what experience your consumer had on Twitter, how they interacted with your brand’s website, and what kind of in-store experiences they have had.
The experiences of the consumer must be seamless, consistent, and reactionary across brick and mortar, social, mobile, and any/all other consumer touchpoints. The story we are telling should be consistent whenever and wherever the consumer interacts with us.
Take Apple for example. Yes. Apple is great at everything. But really, consider the brand’s consistency. Every product, store, Genius Bar member, point of sale collateral—they all reek of Apple. And for a consumer considering a computer purchase, checking out blogs and consumer reports while visiting a hectic Best Buy and listening to both their pro-PC and Mac buds, this is a huge benefit allowing Apple to tell the story of their brand and products at every turn in a buyer’s journey—and hopefully, sell them on it.
Then, consider how Apple has created iCloud and our Apple IDs that have made every interaction thereafter, completely seamless. Our in-store experiences and generally any other experience, are completely based on our past product use, in-store interactions, engagement with their website, etc. Our IDs learn with us and inform Apple how to be reactionary. In the last years, we’ve welcomed Apple Pay. Our money is now within the Apple infrastructure and again, connected to our Apple ID. They’ve even inserted themselves seamlessly into the purchases of other products! The sky is the limit.
We can’t stop the consumer’s path to purchase from evolving, but what we can do is ensure that their experience with your brand is consistent and informed at every touchpoint, whenever and wherever they may arrive.
Awareness and seamlessness are only made possible by paying more attention to tagging and reporting and then pulling all of the data together to create a sophisticated customer profile that we consistently refine. So get close to your analytics team, folks! You’re going to need them.
And if after all of this, you still feel crippling grief for the good ol’ days in path to purchase—give Brokaw a call. We’ll help you through the process and get you on the upward path (albeit an extremely fragmented path) to purchase.