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January 12, 2018
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February 6, 2018

Mobile Unlocks The Path To Purchase Like Never Before

The path to purchase is absolutely critical for any brand to understand, and mobile tools are now providing researchers with profoundly better path to purchase insights than they’ve ever had before.  Until recently, the path to purchase was exceedingly difficult to study because no traditional research methodology allowed the researcher to be present with the consumer during the extended period of time – often many days or even weeks – over which the four primary stages of the path to purchase unfold.  These stages are:

  1. Awareness – How does the customer become aware of their options / specific brands?
  2. Consideration – How do they select between brands and products?
  3. Conversion – Where, when, and why do they actually buy…or not buy?
  4. Evaluation – How do they feel about the experience and would they do it again / recommend the brand?

Instead, researchers (including many on the ThirdSlice team, once upon a time..) relied upon paper journals, which consumers try to keep nearby and fill out as they go through the buying process.  But consumers often forget to bring their journal everywhere they go, and journaling does a poor job of capturing the emotional aspect of the journey.  The other leading qualitative research methods for understanding the path to purchase, including one-on-one interviews and focus groups, ask the consumer to recall and share the process they went through to buy a given product.  But these traditional methods all rely upon the consumer’s memory, which research has shown to be highly flawed, particularly when trying to recall the details of a multi-step process that happened in the past.  Of course researchers can’t be faulted for having relied heavily upon these methods over the course of the last fifty years or more.  They really were the best available.

But how thing have changed!  Using app-based mobile qualitative research tools, we can now literally tag along with the consumer 24×7, and see how the path to purchase unfolds with high resolution and accuracy.  No matter the time, place, situation, or event, participants have their phone with them, and can literally “hit a button” to share detailed information – including photos, videos, open-end, and closed-ended responses – through a custom-designed study focused on gaining a detailed picture of a specific buying journey for a particular product.  Whether the prospective buyer is at home at their computer doing research, having an informal chat with colleagues at work, walking the mall or in the aisle looking at products, or on their tablet or phone shopping on Amazon or elsewhere, we can can now be with them and have them answer questions and share very specific details of every element of the path to purchase as they move from awareness, to consideration, to conversion, and to evaluation.  

Consider the path to purchase for a new gas grill, and a two-week long mobile qualitative study designed to fully illuminate this process.  During the course of this study, prospective buyers were able to share the details of the entire experience.  At their own homes, friends’ backyards, home improvement stores, and inside SUVs and pick-up trucks, the entire process was revealed through consumer generated-photos and videos, as well as open and closed-end survey responses, providing amazing clarity that brought all of the joys and frustrations of this process to life.

Imagine over the course of a two-week long study, enabled by a very intuitive mobile app, that participants were asked to do the following:

  • Tell us – through open ends, closed ends, and videos – about you, your life, and how cooking and grilling fit into it.
  • Show us your current grill (if you have one), what you like and don’t like about it, and why you have decided to buy a new one.
  • Show us where you plan to put your new gill and the pros and cons of that location.
  • Help us understand your level of knowledge about grill technology, features and benefits and how you learn about them.
  • Take us to two stores and tell us all about the experience of shopping for a new grill.
  • Keep us with you at your desk, on the couch, in the car…wherever you are and share with us your experience of conducting online research about grills.
  • Keep us with you as you go to friend’s houses (and anyplace else) and share with us your experiences of talking with others about their grills and how it fits into how you learn about grills.
  • Talk to us about the expected challenges associated with delivery and set-up of your new grill and removal and disposal of your old grill.
  • Show us your new grill at your home and how you feel about your entire path the purchase.

Could traditional research methods, like journals, interviews, shop-alongs, or focus groups have provided the same level of depth and insight into the gas grill buying process?  We’ve been involved in hundreds of path to purchase studies that relied upon traditional analog methods, and we can say without a doubt, the answer is no.

Contact us to learn more about how mobile qualitative research can shine a bright light on your customer’s path to purchase by allowing you to tag along from start to finish, giving you insights you’ve never had before.

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