For 50% of us, the typical path to conversion involved using 3 or more devices. Our journey often starts on one device and finishes on another, involving 22 touchpoints on average. If the new path-to-purchase is becoming more complex, it also involves less intermediaries between the brand and the consumer. Digital marketing, social-media platforms ad etailers connect brands directly with their audience, prompting more and more categories to expand their online business. For example, Tempur-Pedic lures online shoppers with free delivery, 90 night trial and financing options. 10 years ago, who would have thought of buying this mattress online?
If online shoppers can easily find and purchase your product online, they can just as easily ignore your brand or never even become aware of it.
Brand awareness and clarity is therefore more important than ever. Ideally, you want consumers to search for your brand so that they don’t get tempted by the many competitive products available at their fingertips. This implies consumers already know your brand and believe in its value proposition. In-store marketing and sales associates won’t help you pitch, because there is no store.
Here are some examples of brands that succeed by evolving or re-inventing the path to purchase in their category.
For years, you have been buying Tupperware, Avon and Mary Kay products through sales meetings (sorry ‘home parties’) organized by your next door neighbor (your ‘beauty consultant’). Cosmetic brand Rodan + Fields has evolved this model. Rather than selling their products in your living room, Rodan + Fields’ consultants rely on Instagram and Facebook, posting before-and-after selfies and offering free products. Gone are the days of fulfilling your order at the back of a station wagon. Your Rodan + Fields consultant will refer you to her website, where you will choose your product and order directly from the company.
Visits to subscription box sites have grown almost 3,000% since 2013. I see at least 3 reasons for their success.
They make boring products look sexy again. Dollar Shave Club disrupted the shaving category by turning a functional product into an emotionally engaging experience. Until DSC, Ads for razors focused on product attributes such as the number of blades and an aloe Vera strip. DSC launched its brand on Youtube with ads that rely on humor and irreverence to make the brand relatable.
They simplify consumers’ lives. Busy working women no longer have time to shop for clothes. Personal shopping service StichFix combines data science and human stylists to select clothes, shoes and accessories for its members. Customers then try the clothes at home, hold on to what they want and return what they don’t.
They deliver a personalized experience. Remembering your name and your favorite meal was once exclusive to the luxury industry. Subscription clubs leverage advanced analytics such as predictive models to ship you clothes, meals and even teas that you will want to wear eat and drink.
Purchase Experiences That Were Cumbersome And Disjointed
For almost 90% of us, buying a car feels cumbersome and painful. To the point that nearly 25% of Gen X would rather get a root canal than haggle with a car dealer.
TrueCar saw an opportunity to simplify this buying process by convincing car dealerships to provide its members with upfront pricing. Members receive a guaranteed savings certificate that they redeem at the dealership.
Because buying a new car almost always starts with thorough research, Edmunds.com created a one-stop car shopping experience, where shoppers can compare models side-by-side, access user and expert reviews and decide whether to buy or lease.
In a similar vein, AirBnb is evolving its offering to simplify the travel planning experience and provide its members with accommodation along with guided tours, care rides and musical outings.
While the multiplicity of devices and media channels disrupt legacy business models, it also creates an opportunity for brands to foster their relationship directly with consumers and provide them with a wider, more complete offering. The challenge for brands is to stay on top of consumers’ mind by being omnipresent throughout the path to conversion. To succeed, advertisers and their agencies can no longer rely on a few 30 second spots. The pressure is on them to produce thousands of creative executions that drive brand awareness and preference across all channels.
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