When you purchase a product or service, has your process changed over the last five years? Or say even in the last year? Especially in the case of new products or large purchases, most people would say their decision-making process has changed significantly. McKinsey & Co. has developed a great model to help illustrate how consumers currently make purchase decisions, titled the “Consumer Decision Journey.”
Here are the steps in the Consumer Decision Journey:
- Consideration: The consumer is aware of a list of products or brands from which he or she can make the purchase.
- Evaluation: The consumer investigates the options in terms of pros and cons in pricing, channels and any of a number of features and benefits that are desired.
- Buy: The decision is made and the purchase is completed.
- Experience: The consumer experiences the product or service and is very satisfied or very dissatisfied or any point in between.
- Advocate: If the consumer is very satisfied or satisfied, it’s likely he or she will advocate for the product or service.
- Bond: The consumer becomes a brand loyalist. When a purchase must be made again, he or she will bypass the consideration and evaluation stage and go directly to purchase from the brand of choice.
These steps nicely capture the way many purchases are made today. What’s more, much of the evaluation stage takes on place online on company websites, social media, communities and other digital platforms.
Given the current digital environment, advocacy is also taken to an entirely new level of importance. Consumers now have the ability to communicate their satisfaction (or dissatisfaction) with many people very quickly.
The problem is, if recent studies are accurate, brands are not proportionately increasing spending in the digital environment, where the vitally important evaluation and advocacy steps often take place. Instead, spending continues to be heavily focused on the more traditional “push” methods of marketing. This suggests too much emphasis is being placed on the consideration step, with the hope that the buyer will move directly to a purchase.
Times are changing and will continue to change. Greater emphasis must be placed on influencing the evaluation and advocacy steps in the buying process. Long gone are the days when consumers were forced to accept push marketing messages at face value. The consumer is now empowered to make informed decisions. Brands must adapt to this changing buying behavior or risk getting left behind.
Let me know what you think.
Author: Steve Sonn
Steve Sonn is the Principal of S2 Marketing Communications. He has more than 25 years of marketing and PR experience with health care and business-to-business companies.