Research/Analytics: Consumer Purchase Cycle

At any moment, your potential (and existing) customers are at various stages of a Consumer Purchase Cycle (aka “Purchase Funnel”).  They’re either pre-purchase, in-purchase or post-purchase.  Cycle is a better metaphor than funnel as the relationship with consumers doesn’t end at a sale.  A consumer will, eventually, choose to buy your product or service, or not.  Choose to recommend your product/service, or not.  The model for consumer purchase funnel that Ventropy Media uses is shown below.

Consumer Purchase Cycle With Conversion Actions Graphic

Every brand, every product is different.  Learn your consumer’s purchase cycle, the steps they take before, during and after purchase…

Note that our model also includes consumer Conversion Actions that can be generally matched to each step of the Consumer’s Journey.  All conversion actions have value, and some earlier conversions are easier to get than others as they place less demands on a consumer, both financial and psychological.  For example, providing an email address to join a mailing list is less demanding than providing credit card information.

The goal of marketing is to move people from one stage in the purchase cycle to another, deepening the relationship and driving, eventually, to purchase and loyalty (repeat purchases).

Every point in the consumer’s journey provides opportunities for marketers to influence consumer attitudes & behavior.  Let’s look at them more in depth.

  1. Trigger
    A consumer begins to think about purchasing your goods or service.  Did they run out of a product and now need it again?  Are they considering buying something new?  Have their needs changed?
  2. Consider
    Consumer thinks about their needs…figures out what discriminators are important to them.  Which services, features and benefits are the most important for this purchase.  Low price point items usually have a very short Consider phase, whereas high price point items require more time (a “considered” purchase).
  3. Search
    Consumer collects info from all sources.  Friends, family, co-workers, online, tv, radio, advertising, etc.  The consumer is figuring out which brand, product or service has what they need.
  4. Choose
    This is when a brand, product or service “tips the balance” in the consumers mind and a selection is made.  Understandably, many marketers spend an inordinate amount of time focused on ‘Choose’ phase.
  5. Buy
    Consumer makes purchase.  The actual purchase event itself.  Is the purchase online or in-person?  Is the purchase made with an offer, or not?  How is the checkout experience?  Easy?  Intuitive?  Instilling trust in the brand, product or service?
  6. Use/Experience
    Consumer determines whether the purchased brand, product or service delivers the expected benefits or results.
  7. Advocate
    If your brand, product or service meets expected results, and the consumer is motivated, they may endorse, advocate or actively promote for you.  How do you get consumers to do this?  Social media is a masterful channel for this.

Ventropy Media recommends studying your consumers journey to better understand how to effectively communicate with them, regardless of which stage they are at with your brand, product or service.

Keyword research is a great starting place.  You can extract a great deal of information from figuring out which words and phrases consumers are using to find your brand.  The search terms themselves are the “tell”…careful study of the search terms can yield important clues as to which stage of the purchase cycle the consumer is at.  Messaging can be targeted accordingly.

If you’d like to know more about how Ventropy Media helps clients like you achieve digital marketing success, click here.