Visualize the WHY of why people shop the way they do.
By Mark Mattimore, Lead Strategist
In a contemporary omnichannel marketplace, consumers interact with brands from many vantage points. A seemingly endless selection of media channels all combine to offer a dizzying array of options for modern consumers. One of the most effective tools to understanding this shopping landscape is the Consumer Journey Map.
In its simplest form, a Consumer Journey Map is a graphic representation of how a consumer shops and the journey they take in order to make a purchase decision. It’s essentially a roadmap of how your consumer thinks and the type of information they seek, which allows you to sell better and faster.
How we visualize this consumer experience can tell us a lot about their thought processes along the way. A Consumer Journey Map provides a detailed path-to-purchase that helps:
- Articulate predictable activities that define the planning, purchase and social sharing journey of a product experience
- Define the “problems to solve” and aspirations for consumers at each point in the journey to guide communications strategy and messaging.
- Prioritize the media to most effectively reach consumers at each point in the journey.
This tool defines the path and diagrams the experiences a consumer goes through while interacting with a brand to achieve a particular goal.
Mapping the details
But how do we unpack the experience of brand interactions as a consumer shops? And how do we map the journey in a way that improves the experiences for our consumers? Answering these questions involves diving head-first into the details of a Consumer Journey Map.
Understanding who exactly is taking the journey is the crucial first step in the process. We must develop relevant personas that reflect the consumers for whom we wish to map the journey. By defining key audience needs, we can craft offerings and communications that speak directly to their unique experiences.
Data and research
While Consumer Journey Maps can be created by tapping into general customer and market understanding, the most effective process is to obtain data on the specific journey itself. This means going to the source and conducting primary consumer research. The use of qualitative exercises to uncover perceived needs and primary motivators can reveal new target groups or uncover touchpoints that were not previously recognized. A variety of different methodologies can be leveraged to obtain these learnings. The more immersive the better.
A Consumer Journey Map defines the discrete steps a consumer goes through in the shopping journey. But each phase of the journey isn’t just about what consumers do. It’s also about the struggles they must overcome. What tensions do consumers experience along the way that are unaddressed or underserved? During the journey, each phase has requirements that must be resolved to eliminate these tensions in order to progress to the next step.
Activities to guide activation
The process of Consumer Journey Mapping identifies opportunities that compel consumers through the journey to the benefit of the brand. By identifying the media consumers are using along the way and mapping those opportunities, a brand can align its marketing touchpoints with the actions a consumer takes.
Visualizing the journey
Ultimately, a graphic is developed to outline phases, which comprise the stages of category engagement and adoption, and represent a typical path the consumer takes when shopping. A Consumer Journey Map is always created from the perspective of the consumer, not the brand or product category. It’s a working document that can be edited and evolved as it’s being used as a tool to help identify when and where you meet consumers.
Why you need consumer journey maps
Answering questions about the activities that define the consumer’s planning, shopping and purchase journey helps brands provide expertise that stands out and makes an impact. Giving consumers a richer shopping experience more attuned to their needs and the realities of their experiences enables a brand to reach consumers where they live and address them in a way that stands out from normal category noise.
With a depth of category knowledge and decades of practical research experience, Stephens Direct can help your brand cut through the noise. Do you need help getting your consumers' journey mapped?