Archive for July 18, 2007

Examining the Path To Purchase

July 18, 2007

I get a few e-mail newsletters on technology and marketing by e-mail most days. One of those this morning had a piece by the managing director of Retail Advantage, a strategy consulting firm.

Al Wittemen looks at how the retail landscape has changed and suggests that it is no longer about brand identity is store, but about shopper identity.

“Maybe 20 years ago, shoppers might have gone into a store thinking about how Tide made their clothes whiter because that’s what they saw in television commercials,” he writes. “But today, as we all know, shoppers aren’t watching commercials as much, and consequently, are not thinking as much about brands and their benefits.

“To the contrary, they are thinking only about themselves – their problems, and how well the shopping experience is addressing their needs. They are driven by the pressures of time, price and lifestyle. And they are motivated by wants and needs that include health/wellness, quality and convenience, for example.”

Wittemen suggests shoppers are not necessarily engaged by the theatrics of big special events and eye-grabbing displays. What they are really looking for are “relevant solutions to their immediate needs.”

If you do things to address a shopper’s pressures or short-term needs, in a more effective way than competitve brands, then you are getting somewhere, he suggests.


Wittemen says there is a path to purchase for consumers that starts with getting them aware of a product or brand, and moves through the steps of attract, engage, motivate and then activate. At each step, there is a decision point to move them closer to a buying decision, or compelling them to move on.

This thinking should really dovetail with how networked signage operators plan their communications strategy in mid to large stores, and also factor into the thinking about content programming.

As an industry, we’re still all over the map on how we suggest digital signage should be communicating with consumers. Some people are still advocating segmented screens with news headlines and all kinds of ill-considered crap, to what end I’ll never know. Others have mercifully developed more thoughtful, seasoned approaches and do just as Wittemen suggests – communicate with consumers in a vivid and relevant manner that makes their shopping experience easier, and compels them to make buying decisions.

Worth a read