The Customer Path to Purchase- an evolution

Oh how things have changed since 1898 when the American E. St. Elmo Lewis, devised the traditional path to purchase. Then, there was an identifiable and predictable journey to decision making, now we, as consumers, have an ocean of information at our fingertips and the patience of a hungry toddler when it comes to wi-fi speed. I wonder if any other Generation x-ers like me remember the golden pages TV adverts where, following a wild party the teenager wakes up to find mum’s best antique table scarred- where do they go to find a French polisher who saves the day and creeps out the back door as the folks return through the front- why the Golden pages… where else.

Today’s golden pages not only finds us the French polisher but will also provide a youtube video for do it yourself repairs with bread soda and beeswax if you can’t find someone in a 5K radius of your home.

Then, the path to purchase was a politely labelled funnel of desire, interest and awareness that finally led to action and that all important purchase, now, while the fundamental desire is still the main motivating factor, the barrage of influences that drive interest and awareness are omnipotent.

I attended a wonderful update on the soon and sure to be iconic Ireland’s Ancient East product. Interestingly, the path to purchase of a consumer for IAE, is being influenced before the traveller even knows they have a desire to visit the East coast and is underpinned by one of my favourite elements of Irish-ness, the ability of the humans on this island to tell a good story.

Skift had some interesting research where the relationship between the enjoyment of the research and booking of the trip coupled with the anticipation of travel is superseding the actual travel experience. I am not too sure where I land in terms of the anticipation being more enjoyable that the actual travel, but for sure there is a value in the anticipation which probably drives the high levels of expectation of today’s traveller. Again, much of the momentum in terms of high expectation travel is fuelled by the awesome level of Customer interaction and data customisation which can now be pushed to the consumer via social media channels.

So where are these musings going- well really to an acknowledgement that the basic human desires required for purchase remain, but the influencing factors of having a global information network available 24-7 fundamentally changes how the customer behaves once the desire is established and the funnel is not so much a funnel but a series of ever decreasing circles of information which the consumer can hop between before crossing the finishing line. The Moral of the story – marketing and sales and customer service have never before needed to be more aligned to speak to the consumer at every stage of their journey and ensure the road leads to the purchase of their product instead of that of the competition.

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