We’ve all seen the “path-to-purchase” models. Most have lived by them for a very long time. They made sense and reflected the way we understood consumer and shopper attitudes and behaviors. But it’s clear that the world has changed. And we’ve all changed with it.
One of the most significant factors driving this evolution is that technology has been adopted such that it now permeates our lives from every angle. At virtually every age and income level, social segment and lifestyle. We’re not dialing up, we’re dialed in. Through our TVs & DVRs, morning paper, smartphone, laptop, tablet, appliances, stereos, our homes. Heck, we’re even connected with our President from a twitter feed (twitter.com/whitehouse)! All of this has forever altered the expectations we have of people, information, brands and certainly how we shop.
There is no longer a specific line in the sand where human behavior shifts from a passive state of receiving messages (consuming) to a specific pursuit (shopping). Technology has altered the ways we educate, communicate, socialize, and transact. As marketers, the strategies used to predict and intersect human behavior must change in order to survive, let alone succeed.
Audiences have become accustomed to being able to fulfill needs immediately. It’s like blending Burger King with Amazon. You can have it your way. Call, click or swipe. More than ever, shoppers are tuned into sound bites, controlling the conversation and/or the immediate gratification. For example, simply ordering from a mobile device can immediately satisfy the need to refill the diapers stash without waking the baby up to go to the store. Need a new TV? The tablet can immediately provide all the information, comparisons, specs and reviews needed to make the buying decision and the product availability to have it delivered right to their door in less than 24 hours. Those brands that don’t meet expectations are losing relevance and share of heart, mind and wallet.
Audiences have a set of filters that allow them to control what messages are relevant to them. They apply technology (email filters, applications, “friends” or “followers”) and mental filters. They can immediately determine importance, value and interest that result in action. From a decision to follow your brand on Facebook, to adding you to a shopping list on their Smartphone or clicking to buy at that very moment.
Therefore, brand communication needs to be crafted such that it is always inspiring, offering a sense of urgency and value to capture action. They need to be omnipresent and constantly available for interaction. Brand communication needs to balance equity and call to action messaging to align with the new “Shopper Is Always On” mindset.
As marketers, we need to accept that business growth comes not through attitude, but through deeper connections that drive conversion. Good feelings and positive intentions are important for a brand but the imperative is delivering on a strategy that inspires purchase whenever and however they choose to buy.