In 2022, consumer spending in the U.S. stood at 13881.10 USD billion from 13818.36 USD billion in 2021. These statistics show that marketers should seek to understand consumer behavior to gain from their spending habits and make them loyal customers. The main challenge for marketers is to smoothen the way for consumers to walk themselves through the buying process. The following are the four phases of the customer purchase journey that every business needs to be familiar with.
Phase 1: Recognizing the Problem and Searching for Information
At the beginning of the consumer journey, the customer knows there is a problem they need to solve. This means the consumer has an unmet need and starts researching to find information to help them address that need. The consumer may use the internet to explore various products that may prove helpful. Actually, according to a study by Pardot, 72% of buyers go to Google to conduct their research.
Also, potential customers will look into several different brands and browse through customer reviews to determine how “real people” experienced their purchases. Additionally, the consumer will turn to social media to see what influencers or brand ambassadors are saying about a particular product or brand. The consumer may also seek recommendations from trusted friends. These opinions will help the buyer narrow down the products or brands they will buy.
In fact, studies show that information created by the consumer is influential information at this stage of a buyer’s journey. Ultimately, this phase is where the new customer wants to know what real people think and what they have experienced after using a particular product.
Phase 2: Evaluation of Alternatives
During this phase, consumers want to narrow their choices down from a long list of brands or products. The consumers start to weigh the experiences and reviews of other consumers. These other consumers may be like-minded people found online or personal friends.
Depending on the scope of the purchase, the buyer may acknowledge their need for expert help to make their final decision. Moreover, the consumer may seek advice from a store sales representative or manufacturer. At this stage, the sales reps have the power to sway the buyer’s decision. Therefore, having sufficient knowledge about a particular product and the ability to relate to the customer’s needs can significantly impact their final decision.
Phase 3: Moment of Purchase
At this stage, the consumer makes their purchase decision. The consumer decision journey takes into consideration a combination of factors. First, they will consider the comments of other consumers who have experience using the product. Secondly, they will consider the advice of experts in the industry. Lastly, they will form impressions from touch points like TV commercials, digital signage in public places, and ads on social media. Based on these and many other factors constantly playing in the consumer’s mind, they will finally reach a decision and choose a product for purchase.
Conversion is among the most challenging stages in the customer’s journey. A consumer may abandon your brand during this decision-making process. However, you must make the digital path to purchase as seamless as possible to avoid losing customers at this stage. Therefore, you should think about the various payment options you provide, the copy of your checkout page, and how it is for customers to move through the process.
Many digital shoppers prefer buying products on forums like Amazon to a direct-to-consumer store. A “Where to Buy Solution” means consumers can purchase wherever they like. This helps boost a brand’s success at this stage in a buyer’s journey.
Phase 4: Post-Purchase Experience
The customer experience determines the brand loyalty loop. When a buyer tries your product and develops a positive impression with their post-purchase experience, they will most likely give positive reviews of your brand. This is also known as the advocacy stage. At this point, an impressed buyer will spread the good news about your product to their friends through word of mouth and social media. They may also use digital signage media or pictures to create brand awareness.
Ultimately, this leads to customer retention since the buyer will buy more products from your brand in the future. The consumer’s positive memories of their buying experience greatly influence their future buying decisions. Furthermore, post-purchase consumers respond to ads for complimentary products too. Therefore, depending on what you are selling, you may boost the customer loyalty of your buyers.
Consumer Buying Journey
Marketers must familiarize themselves with all the phases of the customer purchase journey. One way to stay updated is through a customer journey map. This is a visual representation of all the steps a consumer takes before they become a customer. Thus, information acquired from this map helps marketers gain a deep understanding of the experiences and mindset of buyers. As a result, they can identify barriers to conversion and pain points and address them.