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On Thursday, April 25th, we are presenting at one of the breakout sessions at the Retail Advertising & Marketing Symposium, an annual forum about marketing and advertising trends in the Canadian Retail Sector. Our presentation, titled The Path to Purchase Isn't Always a Path, reveals the varied steps in the path to purchase for a large group of consumers across a series of categories, channels and retailers.

While many existing theories already exist about the path to purchase, many of these frameworks were developed before the proliferation of the internet, social media, and multi-channel and omni channel retailing. In our conversations with clients, we have noticed a growing number of marketers who are interested in mapping out the path to purchase.

Path to Purchase

At the symposium, we will present an overall path to purchase framework which follows a general four-step process: Need Identification, Information Search, Purchase Decision, and Post-Purchase Evaluation. We tested this framework across several major categories and among different shopper groups using VC Insight Communities.

From the data that we have collected so far, retailers should note the following highlights:

  1. The path to purchase differ by category shopped (i.e. health & beauty vs. apparel vs. beer/liquor) - but within each category the paths also differ by gender, age, store shopped, whether the product was purchased as a gift or not, and whether it was a planned or spontaneous purchase. Companies should consider mapping out their own path to purchase on a category, brand, and even a product level.
  2. The various paths should be cut by relevant cohorts to get a better understanding of target segments. Each path will likely uncover subtleties that marketers can target in different ways along the consumer path to purchase.

We plan to run our path to purchase framework longitudinally to gain deeper insights on different consumer purchase paths and also continue to capture the various nuances that emerge. We'll share the complete report from this study soon. If you sign up, we will let you know as soon as results are ready.

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