Updated: Sep 5, 2019
No, midwifery isn’t our latest venture here at Touchstone, but we do enjoy getting to grips with life in general. We design bespoke apps and services that enable our clients to also hold life in the palm of their hands. By getting closer to the day-to-day workings of a person’s world we can help our clients see where they might contribute to that shopper journey and therefore stay in the frame for purchase.
But here’s the thing … mapping a shopper’s life can be messy and for brands that want to be in the right place at the right time, it can be even more challenging because of this. Where does my brand need to be, for which shoppers, when and what do we say when we ‘show up’? And how do we ensure our interventions are enhancing, not detracting from their experience.
Understanding when and how to connect with an audience requires a certain agility and precision but also a serious breadth of view to witness the ebb and flow of the pathway. This is where we have discovered that custom designed multi-method approaches are needed for understanding not only the nature of the journey to purchase (what it looks like on the surface) but, critically, also being able to intercept this journey at any point to explore the inner workings (what it feels like beneath the surface).
So, what does life look and feel like? Well, increasingly it looks rectangular. We all know Smart phones have become an integral part of our lives and for researchers they provide an easy, familiar platform for shoppers to show and tell us their stories. Digital mapping is not a new thing but is often used to simply harvest and analyse information rather than truly open a dialogue with real shoppers. For sure, digital allows us to see and monitor hundreds of journeys as they unfold but, in addition, we have built in the ability to handpick individuals for deeper conversations along their pathway. Digital mapping tells us we all might go through similar stages in our purchasing lives, but how we live that life varies greatly: this is the most fertile ground to hunt for a breadth of effective activation levers to buy.
For our shoppers, flexibility is key for sustained engagement and quality of input, and for us as researchers, the key is to be able to react immediately as shopper pathways are logged and develop or change course. We offer a hybrid of data collection with more conventional app-based surveys as bookends pre and post journey completion. While shopping, browsing or mulling, shoppers have the options of video, text, audio and images to communicate what’s happening when, in their world.
One really useful example is Voice Activated responses (much like ‘Alexa’). Shoppers can think out loud as ideas or considerations pop into their head – even when they aren’t actively shopping. Our most profound thoughts and decisions often arrive when we least expect them, right?
A less palatable but fundamentally important hot topic for us as professional journey scanners is Elimination. Not a word most brands relish but finding out why a product drops out of consideration, and when, is hugely valuable information. We don’t just focus on the “successful” journeys but also open conversations with those who drop out of the journey. Speaking directly with those who fail to complete a purchase, or opt for a different brand choice, is fundamental to building those effective activation levers … where did they go, why, what for and what might have kept them on course?
And perhaps ‘on course’ are the two most important words in pathway to purchase insight. First, we must establish the course before we can understand the deviations, eliminations and conversions. More importantly, there is never one course or journey but there are always important, shared milestones: our goal is to bring definition to these milestones for our clients. If we understand these milestones, then we can build activation plans that guide shoppers towards these achievements on their path to purchase in which ever order suits them most, and in ways that enhance their journey.
It’s not easy, but that’s life.
If you have any path to purchase challenges you would like to discuss, then please get in touch: email@example.com