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6 steps for more accurate & actionable consumer decision journey insights

UNCOVERING MORE ACCURATE AND ACTIONABLE CONSUMER DECISION JOURNEYS

Nearly all consumer decision journeys have shifted since the COVID-19 crisis – new journeys have emerged, while others have been reshaped.  As malls emptied in Asia, e-commerce and other digital trends were accelerated, while small neighbourhood stores also did well.

With so many paradoxical changes, an abundance of online and offline triggers, touchpoints, transitions, and interactions, how can brands gain clarity here and take action to influence their decisions?

SKIM, an international insights agency specialising in decision behaviour, has developed a new Customer Journey Mapping insights approach to tackle this challenge – to offer brands clarity on the What, Where, why, When, and How of today’s multifaceted (and messy) consumer decision journeys.  The resulting insights have been instrumental in helping brands align marketing investments to the most impactful touchpoints.

Based on our experience, here are six steps we recommend that help identify and prioritise the most important decision journeys for your brand.

  1. Examine what you can impact: Select potential journey touchpoints to optimise

15 is a good target number of touchpoints when starting to map your consumer decision journey. More touchpoints can add complexity to the connections, which may overwhelm the implementation and execution of the strategy, while fewer may risk missing important areas and pathways.  Include decision touchpoints across offline, online, mobile, and omnichannel activities.

Consumer decision journey

They should be discernible from other touchpoints, likely to be impactful, and actionable.  We often recommend using qualitative research or data reduction to develop this list.

  1. Capture stated and behavioural consumer data to map the journey: Uncover the frequency, sequence, and importance of touchpoints

Once you have chosen the touchpoints to assess, the next step is to quantify the impact and importance of each touchpoint on the consumer’s overall decision journey. Calculate how much of a role each touchpoint plays in the final decision using sequence analysis and robust predictive modelling.

Consumer decision journey

A rigorous modelling approach is critical to accurately assess the impact of digital behaviour here.  Much has been written about the ‘messy’ shopper journey, so it is important that the model can handle multiple journey possibilities.

A consumer’s decision journey is non-linear in nature and context-driven (mobile, location, occasion, social media, etc).  For the most accurate insights, journey model development should include passive metering and digital tracking behaviour analysis to fill in the ‘real-world’ behavioural gaps and find granular insights for implementation.

The data you uncover in this step will provide input for developing journey clusters.

  1. Uncover unique and actionable decision journey clusters: Identify like-minded consumers

We recommend using clustering techniques to capture like-minded consumers.  Clusters differentiate journey types and the experiences your customers engage in as they move through paths-to-purchase.  Many consumer journey clusters involve a defining online component, either for information, or searching or recommendations. We expect this to be a permanent change in many journey models.

Clustering helps identify the What, Where, Why, When, and How of shopper journeys.

  1. Visualise the decision journeys landscape: Size the clusters within your total market

Once you have journey clusters, it helps to type, visualise, and size the various journeys and their channel membership. Sizing the meaningfully different journeys helps you understand how many targetable journeys exist, how prevalent they are, and what channels are most important for each journey.

  1. Prioritise which journeys to target for your brand: Analyse which clusters will deliver the most economic potential and capturability

The next step will be to identify your brand’s potential to capture market share. To maximise the ‘actionability’ of this consumer decision journey exercise, you will need to capture the relationship among key metrics in the journey model, including:

  • Economic potential: Each journey’s potential value to your brand
  • Brand capturability: Your brand’s potential ability to acquire each journey

Consumer decision journey

This is essential for both strategic and tactical execution. Using quad maps can help visualise this prioritisation.

  1. Activate and unlock decision journey insights: Conduct interactive cross-functional workshops

After uncovering today’s decision journeys, the last step will be to ensure they work for your team. Socialisation and activation are critical for successful marketing to new journey segments.  This step is even more important than in the past because the new, or reshaped, journeys will be more complex and may be unfamiliar to your team.

Consider interactive workshops to improve stakeholder alignment on strategic and tactical plans. In addition, interactive dashboards can help bring the insights to life and ensure marketing and brand teams can explore new scenarios for reaching your target consumers.

ASIAN CONSUMER JOURNEYS AND ECOSYSTEMS

In Asia, online and offline touchpoints work simultaneously as ecosystems more and more – for example in China, where Alibaba and Tencent cover everything from digital and social media, to entertainment, e-commerce, and even physical retail. We expect this trend to spread across Asia with players like Reliance/Jio in India or Grab in Indonesia. Each of these ecosystems have their strengths and limitations.

Consumer decision journey

Consumer decision journey

Asian consumers are changing their habits and behaviours very rapidly. They are choosing – or being forced to choose – different ways of exploring, discovering, and buying products. Brands should untangle these journeys and create strategic partnerships with the most relevant media and retail partners and ecosystems to come out as winners.

SKIM’s Decision Journey Mapping offers a sophisticated approach to understanding the implications of specific touchpoints and sequences of actions along the path to purchase. Leading brands around the world have shifted to this journey modelling approach for a more accurate view of today’s consumer decision journey.

By Michael Hetherington LinkedIn and Vinay Rao LinkedIn at SKIM Singapore