The Digitization of the Path to Purchase

There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed shopper behavior. More and more people are shopping online and the path to purchase has changed dramatically.

Some figures cite staggering increases in online shopping by as much as 18% in 2020 in the US alone. Moreover, studies show that omnichannel shopping for FMCG goods has increased by 50% this year with almost half of these purchases made through e-commerce.

As our clients struggle to adapt to these changes in shopper behavior, at Explorer we have been studying how CPG categories like food and beverage can meet these challenges head on.

In the past it was so easy to think of retail as being divided into two separate parts: Brick-and-mortar and online. If shopper research was conducted for the online environment, it tended to focus around the product and the user experience without taking into account the entire consumer path to purchase and decision making. Now, consumers move seamlessly back and forth between the digital and physical retail environments as they make their purchase decisions. Pack, POSM, pricing and shopper marketing have all combined and need to be examined together to get a holistic view of consumer behavior.

While digital and physical shopper behaviors continue to combine, the one constant that can be used to study consumer behavior to gain deeper insights is behavioral science.

Usually the physical shelf was the first place a consumer saw your product in the old brick-and-mortar store. This is likely the place where their shopper behavior was first influenced. Today though, consumer behavior is influenced by everything from brand web sites, to click and deliver services, BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In Store), Amazon, DTC (Direct to Consumer) Sites and the huge array of digital advertising that can be found everywhere online. Even purchases that ultimately end up being made in store have somehow been influenced by the digital world along the customer decision path.

It’s no surprise then that our clients want to know when, where and how to influence shoppers along the journey for their brand to win.

One way Explorer is helping to tackle this problem is through our DecisionPATH customer journey approach. We measure the total customer journey and understand digital behavior and the importance of different touchpoints along the journey. Often, we then work with clients to test their digital touchpoints on live websites. To understand in-store behavior Explorer has the broadest toolkit of immersive environments. Our latest Immersive Qualitative Research allows us to immerse a moderator right in the store. Having the moderator in the context of the environment replicates being in a real store environment. The moderator can move up and down the aisle to point out different items on the shelf and zoom in on packaging to probe for deeper insights.

Contact us if you would like to learn more about our DecisionPATH and Online Immersive Research Platforms.

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