Inside the Buy
Join AMP Agency as we travel the Path to Purchase. Get into shoppers' heads to learn what happens before they buy. Discover what information they're looking for, what affects their decision to purchase and how to attain their loyalty.
With this, the fifth installment of AMP Agency’s AMPlified Research Studies, we sought to explore what happens before consumers decide to buy. How do they go about that process? What information are they looking for along the way? How is their loyalty attained?
We found that there are many factors along the Path to Purchase that affect how a consumer makes a purchase decision, and that brands and other consumers have the power to sway those decisions by harnessing the power of information.
Consumers who participated in our research were between the ages of 25 and 49 and had made a purchase in the past month in one of five different product categories:
- Consumer Electronics
- Food & Beverage
- Health & Beauty
AMP spoke to 865 respondents who were engaged in one of three ways:
- Online Survey (750 respondents)
- Ready, Search, Shop Private Social Network (15 respondents)
- Virtual Eye-Over-the-Shoulder Website Exploratories (100 respondents)
The online survey served to provide a baseline level of quantifiable information to how many consumers navigated the Path to Purchase.
The Ready, Search, Shop network gave us first hand exposure on how consumers move along the path. Consumers who par ticipated in the Ready, Search, Shop network were asked to create a network profile and join a private social network that only AMP and our research respondents could access. Respondents were asked to complete various projective exercises, post numerous blog entries regarding their purchase habits, and complete an online shopping activity.
Finally, the Virtual-Eye-Over-the-Shoulder Website Exploratory allowed us to watch the research take place. Respondents’ online sessions were followed and recorded as they simulated an online shopping experience using the web as their primary information source.
What is Happening to Brand Loyalty?
Brand loyalty is harder to obtain than ever before. In fact, AMP Agency found that only 3% of consumers say they are loyal to a brand and never buy anything else. A Contemporary Loyalty has been born where consumers are somewhat loyal to a product, but open-minded to similar products that are new or better.
With Contemporary Loyalty comes a new Path to Purchase that drives it. This new Path to Purchase places value on the consumer’s purchase consideration stage – the information-gathering stage. During this consideration stage, consumers conduct research on products they want to know more about before they actually consider buying them. Each day a brand has something newer and better to offer, driving this research – this enlarged consideration process.
Another unique aspect is the power of “group think.” Brands alone do not control the elements that affect a consumer’s intent to purchase. The research consumers conduct plays a role, as does the research and experiences of other consumers. Influential information is generated by many sources and necessitates a new purchasing strategy that, when successfully managed by brands, builds loyalty.
In this study, we examine the steps consumers take during their purchase decision journey – the Purchase Decision Cycle. We examine what is “Inside the Buy.”
All Consumers Do Research
We discovered that all consumers do some kind of research before making a purchase. Combining all categories – Consumer Electronics, Baby, Fashion, Food & Beverage, and Health & Beauty – an average of 43% of consumers always do research before buying. This research process adds an incredibly powerful element to a consumer’s purchase decision. This research process is what we will later define as the new Path to Purchase.
Cost Is Still Reigning King
Consumers’ need for education about a new product, or their purchasing in a new product category for the first time, can serve as catalysts for seeking out information. Positive and negative personal experiences with brands or products, or positive and negative experiences of friends or family can also spawn research. One of the largest drivers of product research is getting the best deal. Consumers know that many retailers compete on price, and they use that to their advantage.
“Target.com had special offer with no shipping charge…I love to shop at good prices.” –Brenda A., 45
Research Drives Purchase Intent
The research that consumers conduct greatly influences their purchase behavior. When a consumer has a positive research experience in which they find all the information they are looking for, purchase intent increases. 94% of consumers say that the research they did positively influenced their decision to make a purchase.
Pre-purchase research happens through many different channels, but the most influential channel, consumers say, is the web. This resource is incredibly accessible, easy to use, and offers a number of – what consumers consider to be – unbiased opinions. In many cases, a consumer will ask a friend for their thoughts on a brand, and af ter receiving them, that consumer will head to the web to validate what they’ve heard. The web can be more powerful than a peer’s point of view, and this is why our research focuses heavily on what we’ve identified as the Purchase Decision Cycle and the new Path to Purchase as they live online.
This is an excerpt; for the full pdf click here.