The shopper journey
From touchpoints to shopper journeys
The route to purchase is the management of the shopper journey in the interest of the manufacturer.
Developing a route to purchase strategy based on the shopper journey starts with understanding the different touchpoints between the shopper and the potential solutions to the consumption need states with the goal of understanding the drivers of conversion. To understand the differences in the use of touchpoints, then- role and importance, as well as the competitive position by touchpoint, it is interesting to look at the touchpoints of the category and the products and services of the manufacturer.
The touchpoints between manufacturers and shoppers have changed profoundly in the last two decades. Traditionally, companies divide between above the line (ATL) and below the line (BTL) activation. This division refers to their position in the profit and loss statement. Above are the expenses related to the brand and consumer marketing activities, such as television, radio and press. Below are the expenses associated with sales and the activation of brands, products and services in the different sales channels to activate shoppers at the time of the purchase. This division is clearly based on the idea of departments and aligned with how the profit and loss and the costs of a company are traditionally structured. It also reflects the understanding of marketing as developing the awareness and preference on the one hand, and the activation and conversion at the point of purchase on the other hand. This view is deterministic to some extent and based on a clear idea of a marketing funnel from awareness, interest, consideration, evaluation and purchase. The basic idea is to move the consumer and shopper from one point to the next closer to the purchase. In such a view, each touchpoint is separate to the next, and an interaction between steps and touchpoints is not considered.
The experience from customer service management and loyalty programs shows that the sum of the performance at each touchpoint does not automatically result in a high satisfaction level. It is enough for the performance at one toirchpoint, or the communication between two touchpoints, to be poor to result in low customer satisfaction. Therefore, the interaction of the touchpoints needs to be considered. The challenge is not to optimize each toirchpoint, but rather to understand their role and interaction, and optimize the route through the shopper journey.77 Tracking and evaluating the role of the different touchpoints and their interrelationship in the increasingly complex environment of multi-touchpoint and omnichannel shopper journeys is something with which many brands are struggling.78
Above the line and below the line have been complemented by a through the line (TTL) view with a more integrative perspective managing the interconnection of touchpoints from the initial activation toward the purchase. An example could be a mass media consumer promotion with clear interaction with other media charnels on more information and activation, e.g. coupons, in paper or digital, to purchase the product in a specific channel or chain, where the product is being fittingly activated.
As the number of media charnels and touchpoints are increasing, the interaction between them increases as well, making the more classical touchpoint and marketing funnel model obsolete. The new models for shopper journeys are more iterative and non-linear.79 Winning or optimizing each touchpoint is not the goal, but understanding the journey and the role of the different touchpoints, how they interact and what the decision process is.80 The shopper is influenced long before the purchase, for planned, as well as unplanned purchases.81 With digital touchpoints, then- number and their influence on the shopper before he arrives at the point of purchase becomes more important.82
The shopper journey neither starts at the point of purchase, traditionally a store, nor does it end with the purchase. The term “moment of truth” was introduced to describe the encounter between shopper and product and service. It describes the importance of meeting shopper expectations and ensuring the conversion from shopper to buyer in a competitive environment. This moment of truth is often called the first moment of truth. There is a zero moment of truth (ZMOT) as well, which takes place before the purchase. It includes the touchpoints of searching for a solution to a consumption need state before purchasing a product and service. The ZMOT idea was developed by Google to establish the importance of being present throughout the different touchpoints, especially the digital ones, up to the moment of purchase. The second moment of truth is when the product and service is used and evaluated.83
Figure 3.16 Comparison of the correlation of touchpoints vs. shopper journeys in relation to customer satisfaction and willingness to recommend
Level of association measured through the regression R2 coefficient through a multiple regression model between touchpoints vs. shopper journey and satisfaction and willingness to recommend.
Source: (Maechler et al., 2016)
The shopper journey starts before and goes beyond the point of purchase. Shoppers do not buy specific products and services, they buy solutions to the consumption need states, and only if these are satisfied will the product and service be beneficial to the consumer and the shopper.84
Shopper journeys need to be analyzed together with shopper attitudes and their impact on shopper behavior. Next to the solution sought for a specific consumption need state the attitudes toward the purchase, in terms of the involvement with the purchase, the level of planning and the shopping mission, define the behavior of the shopper. Depending on these attitudes, the activation and conversion strategy has to be adapted.
The starting point of a shopper journey is the consumption need and future intended usage, and the awareness of possible solutions. Attitudes in terms of involvement, planning and shopping missions influence the shopper journey. This influences the shopper in selecting the most appropriate point of purchase as a function of his consumption and shopping needs. The process of searching, selecting and buying is related to the attributes of the point of purchase and the shopping experience. With the acquisition of the product or service the consumption need state can be satisfied, i.e. the consumption or usage of the products and services. The experience with the selected solution influences the future preference and relation in terms of loyalty, recommendation and advocacy. During the entire shopper journey
Figure 3.17 Comparison of shopper journeys for television sets and cosmetics Example of two shopper jounieys. one for television sets and one for cosmetics. Source: Based on Dodd, 2011
process, there are different touchpoints, including social platforms. The process is influenced by the social reality of shoppers, e.g. sociodemographic characteristics and the level of digitalization.
The consumer of products and services is the target of consumer marketing. The objective of consumer marketing is to initiate, secure and increase consumption through developing awareness, preferences and loyalty for brands, products and services. To develop the need, preference and willingness to pay for products and services at a price higher than the cost to serve is the basis for each profitable company. To achieve this there needs to be a purchase. Without the act of purchase, there is no consumption. And there is no need for purchasing if there is no intention of consumption. Many times the buyer and the user, the shopper and
Figure 3.18 Shopper journey framework
Key phases of the shopper journey from the consumer need states to the use and evaluation of the product and service. The consumption need states generate the shopping trip and choice of point of purchase in line with the shopping mission. The conversion from shopper to buyer takes place at the point of purchase with the influence of the shopping experience. Thr ough the use of the product and service, as well as through the different touchpoints and social platforms, a relation to the brand, product, and service is developed which influences recommendations and advocacy. This again influences the initial considered set of solutions of the consumption need states.
the consumer are identical. Here there are important differences between categories and situations. For example, with cosmetics, the consumer and the shopper are the same people in more than 90 percent of cases. The same applies to beer in direct consumption situations, in on-trade channels, e.g. bars, pubs, restaurants etc. In the case of groceries, the situation is usually different. The shopper and the purchasing process connect consumer marketing with the moment of product and service selection, i.e. the availability and presentation of products and services at the point of purchase.
Broadly speaking, consumer marketing is focused on developing awareness and preference for products and services, while shopper marketing focuses on purchasing, product and service selection. These are two separate processes, and even if the consumer and shopper are the same person, the attitude as a consumer and as a shopper is different. As a consumer, there is a preference, as a shopper there is a multidimensional decision on preference, consumption occasion, availability and price. Therefore, the objectives of consumer marketing and shopper marketing differ. Consumer marketing is often aspirational, describing and identifying what consumers would like, often with an emotional component. In many cases the people associated with a brand, product and service are different from the consumer.
Shopper marketing, on the other hand, has to focus on the people who will actually buy the products and services to meet their specific needs. While consumer marketing triggers engagement with consumers, shopper marketing triggers needs more aligned with the reality of the shoppers, in terms of usage and price, but also in temis of availability.
In the B2B environment an important distinction is made between the user and the chooser. The purchase decision is made in the intersection between these two. The user is
Figure 3.19 Brand communication and sales targets
Example of brand communication and sales targets in Africa in relation to socioeconomic levels.
Figure 3.20 Cost of ownership
Example of evaluation criteria for products and services in the B2B field, in this case for the telecommunications industry in Western Europe.
the one who has to define the needs and the basic criteria to evaluate the product and service. Based on this the chooser can evaluate the different alternatives and select the best that satisfies both the needs of the user and the economic criteria of the chooser. The economic criteria are not reduced to just price, but also include the cost to serve, the quality and the service. For example, the price of a machine may be lower if it does not include service or maintenance, but depending on the need for service or maintenance, it may be that the lower priced machine is more expensive in the end than the other, where service and maintenance are included in the price.
Figure 3.21 Traditional shopper journey in retail
Linear shopper journey to receive information, be informed, test, buy and evaluate the purchase.
Source: Bastistich, 2013
The concept of cost of ownership is very useful to better understand the B2C sphere. One example is low-cost flights in Europe. The best-known low-cost European airline is Ryanair. The price of a ticket is usually cheaper than that of other airlines. However, the price only shows the face value that the buyer sees directly, and not the total cost. The total cost of travel can be in line with that of other airlines. Ryanair often works with smaller and more distant airports, because they are cheaper and for each service, such as luggage, food etc., travelers have to pay extra. If all costs are added up the total cost of the flight, such as the ticket, transportation, luggage, additional time etc., often becomes considerably less attractive. Therefore, the cost of ownership varies dependent on how the different dimensions of a product and a service are evaluated at a certain point. It is therefore important to understand that the decision drivers that activate shoppers are different depending on the occasion of the purchase.
To activate the shopper and lead him through the purchase process from the identification of the consumption need states to the purchase needs, this same process needs to be understood and analyzed. Without a need, awareness, preference and availability at an appropriate price and cost of ownership there will be no purchase. The process from needs identification to purchase, the shopper journey, describes the interaction between the brand, product and service and the shopper. The interaction takes place across the touchpoints between brands, products, sendees and shoppers and drives the selection of the appropriate solution for the shopper depending on his or her needs in terms of consumption need state and purchase situation.
The route to purchase is the management of the shopper journey in the interest of the company to drive preference and purchase in favor of its own products and services. In other words, it is the strategy to manage the shopper throughout the shopper journey in favor of the company and its brands, products and services. Traditionally, the shopper journey was relatively simple and the main information sources were through classical media, like TV, radio and newspapers, and at the retail store.
Today, shoppers are informed through a multitude of media channels and buy in different sales channels, depending on the consumption need state and purchase situation. A shopper journey today is not linear and has more touchpoints.
For such a shopper journey it is clearly more complex to develop a route to purchase strategy. The management of the route to purchase is the management of the shopper toward the product or service to connect with the route to market, which has to ensure that the product and service is available at the right place, time and activated in line with the shopper expectations. The route to purchase connects the marketing intent with the route to market strategy.
Figure 3.22 Shopper journey for personal care products Shopper journey for personal care products in Western Europe. Source: Author
Figure 3.23 Global Gender Gap Index 2020 Level of gender equality in 2020.
Source: World Economic Forum 2019
Shopper journeys are local
Consumer marketing strategies of international companies often have a strong global component, but the closer to the moment of purchase, the more important the local specifics of a market become. Shopper marketing therefore needs to have a local focus in design, and even more in the phase of implementation.
The sociopolitical environment can differ significantly between countries and regions and has an important impact on purchasing behavior. In more traditional societies, the responsibility for grocery shopping often remains with housewives, while in countries with a higher degree of gender equality the responsibility' for shopping is more evenly distributed between the genders. In addition, the incidence of single households differs between societies.
Economic differences, not only between segments of the population, but also between countries and regions, influence shopper marketing approaches. The economic differences of countries imply differences in the understanding of shoppers, their segmentation and the strategies needed to reach those segments. In the telecommunications industry, as an example, segmentation in developed countries is often based on lifestyle, while in emerging countries segmentation by income levels can be more useful.
In such different markets, the needs of segments are different, as are the ways in which people buy and the points of purchase are structured. In addition, the role of digital touchpoints and e-commerce differs.
The shopper journey and how the shopper arrives at the product and service depends on the category, but also on the reason for the purchase, the consumption occasion, as well as the involvement, the importance of the purchase, and the information necessary for the purchase decision.
Shopper marketing is ultimately a local challenge, depending on the sociopolitical environment, the economic situation, the market structure and the supply and use of technological solutions. The strategy to activate shoppers and deliver the products and services to the shopper needs to be based on local specifics, even if the brand strategy and its positioning are global.