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Omnichannel perspective on Path to Purchase – needed, but hard to capture

February 23, 2017

Consumer journeys become more and more complex

and changes happen faster than ever. Consumers learn about products, compare prices, share opinions, consume content and make their decisions where and when it best serves them on their path to purchase.

Different websites, devices, store channels and media types (both online and offline) interacts and impact consumers throughout their journey; together forming a total consumer experience that is decisive for success or failure for brands and retailers. To make things even more complex; consumers paths to purchase are highly different for different consumer segments, purchase channels and shopper missions. Most CPG (Consumer Packaged Goods) giants and top retailers agree regarding the importance of an omnichannel perspective on consumer experience. But still, most of them have not moved beyond single-channel tactics.

The gap between online and offline shopper insights

One big challenge for companies not moving into an omnichannel perspective is the lack of easy to implement and robust research methods to measure consumers’ omnichannel paths to purchase. Which online and offline touchpoints should be prioritized for brand building and ultimately conversion? Most CPG companies currently have a good understanding of how their shoppers are behaving both online and offline. However, this understanding often does not link the online world to the offline world and to how shoppers are interacting and behaving across the entire Path to Purchase.

There are several reasons why marketing research methods fail to uncover the omnichannel paths to purchase.

Let’s go through the most common approaches:
  1. Self-stated surveys: The most traditional way of researching path to purchase is asking consumers about their Path to Purchase, the touchpoints they encounter, and the impact they’ve had on them. This method allows for mapping of typical Paths to Purchase, including all types of touchpoints. However, it is typically difficult for people to simply tell what touchpoints made them take a specific action. As a result, this method gives very limited insight into the impact of different touchpoints.
  2. Monitor consumers’ digital behavior: This method has a higher validity since it’s based on actual behavior. However, it only links to online behavior not capturing the interaction between online and offline interactions which is the central aspect of omnichannel paths to purchase. Moreover, companies do not have access to online purchase data from different e-retailers why conversions cannot be captured.
  3. Qualitative research: Focus groups, online diaries or in-depth interviews enable research to dig deeper into consumers reasoning and motives behind behaviors. Qualitative methods are therefore widely used to understand Path to Purchase. The main problem with using a qualitative approach is that it does not quantify either your finding or measure the impact of individual touchpoints.
  4. Media Mix Modelling: In this method advanced statistical modelling is applied on historical data on media spend and sales. MMM does not rely on surveys – so it is free from any research biases. It also allows for understanding the impact of individual touchpoints, guiding media planning. However, MMM requires high quality time series data of all relevant media spend and sales, which is difficult for media owner to get a hold of. The method is also limited to the media channels used by the advertiser historically. Moreover; interactions between and sequences of touchpoints are very difficult to capture with MMM.
Do you recognise the challenges above?

I understand if it´s hard to find a research methodology to capture Path to Purchase across channels. Maybe you want to share how you have solved this situation by writing in the comments section? If not, you´re most welcome to get in touch with me and discuss this subject.

What methods do your company use to understand Path to Purchase?

Nepa’s approach to map consumers’ omnichannel Path to Purchase is to use both monitored and self-stated data. We do this by collecting individual single source data (both attitudinal and behavioral) through a focused panel of respondents for a limited time period (via web scraping, browser monitoring, app monitoring and a self-reporting portal). This way we can capture all touchpoints that consumers interact with and also their actions (e.g. makes a visit or purchase), not limited to bought media or owned channels. By modelling this data, we help our clients to understand impact of individual touchpoints as well as combinations of them. As a bonus, we use trigger-based surveys to capture motivations behind actions and experiences of touchpoints.

“The output give our clients an actionable framework to make market-by-market decisions about how to focus their media, marketing and sales investments along the Path to Purchase.”

I help businesses to thrive with customer-centricity by utilizing the power of continuous consumer insights. There is no end to what you can achieve with real-time consumer insights, customer feedback and footprints. Do you want to know more about our approach or share your view on these challenges? You´re most welcome to get in touch with me.


+46 76 337 74 02