Login or signup
36

Why Customers Buy (It's Pretty Simple, Actually)

The first step is a better understanding of the "consumer decision journey." Here's what you need to know.

Advertisement

We recently did some work for a brand that had very high awareness but low consideration in the e-commerce space. Their goal was to get more buyers to consider and evaluate their brand when purchasing. The first step involved developing a better understanding of the "consumer decision journey."

McKinsey & Co introduced the concept of the consumer decision journey in 2009, and present it today as shown here:

The graphic shows the key stages of the consumer decision journey:

  • Consider: What brands/products do consumers have in mind as they contemplate a purchase?
  • Evaluate: Consumers gather information to narrow their choices.
  • Buy: Consumers decide on a brand and buy it.
  • Post-purchase experience: Consumers reflect on the buying experience, creating expectations/considerations that will inform a subsequent purchase.
  • Advocate: Consumers tell others about the product or service they bought.
  • Bond:  Consumers skip or short-circuit the evaluation process and decide not to switch brands.

Our client was not winning in the consideration or evaluation stages.  At most they were winning at the moment of purchase, as their web site and SEO efforts attracted buyers doing a final check of alternatives before purchasing.  The client wanted to address these gaps while remaining true to their core (and highly profitable) operating model.  After some initial analysis of the business, we formed a couple of hypotheses:

  • When they lost consumers at two key stages of the journey--"evaluate" and "buy"--they were also losing them on future consideration opportunities.
  • Consumers that had a few successful transactions were highly likely to find the brand habit-forming and "bond" with the brand.

We decided, therefore, to focus on winning during evaluation and at the moment of purchase, which in turn would drive future consideration. We scoped out four key areas to explore that we felt would improve the "evaluate" and "buy" stages in the short term and drive consideration in the long term.

  1. Ease of use: Can we simplify the shopping experience by minimizing the number of clicks required to complete a transaction?
  2. Breadth of offering: Can we partner with other manufacturers to populate important categories that we were currently underserving, or could we create "destination" brands that were exclusive to our site?
  3. Decision-making support: Can we enlist the community to help their peers find and choose the right products? Would a rewards program for assistance be a good incentive?
  4. Connection: Can we add live chat or other features to humanize the shopping experience and help the consumer to feel more connected to the brand?

We are exploring these areas with our client and will discuss our results in future articles.

IMAGE: Getty
Last updated: Jul 18, 2013

Must-read stories from the Inc. 5000
The Full List
The Fastest-Growing Company in America, Fuhu, Makes a Kids Tablet
One Thing Inc. 5000 Companies Have in Common: Performance
The Psychological Price of Starting an Inc. 5000 Company
The Ten Largest Inc. 5000 Companies
Productivity Secrets of Top Women CEOs
IPO Advice from Inc. 5000 CEOs
Facts & Figures of the Inc. 5000
Methodology

KARL STARK AND BILL STEWART are managing directors and co-founders of Avondale, a strategic advisory firm focused on growing companies. Avondale, based in Chicago, is a high-growth company itself and is a two-time Inc. 500 honoree.
@karlstark




Register on Inc.com today to get full access to:
All articles  |  Magazine archives | Comment and share features
EMAIL
PASSWORD
EMAIL
FIRST NAME
LAST NAME
EMAIL
PASSWORD

Or sign up using: