2012 Path To Purchase Summit – Review

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Having returned from this years Path to Purchase summit in Sydney, I thought it might be worth offering up some of the key take outs I got from the event.

New Media Influence

The first and perhaps key take away for me, is that given the huge volume of commentary on the importance of digital interactions, no one in consumer goods can afford to ignore the influence that new media has throughout the path to purchase. This has interesting implications for retailers and manufacturers alike.

Retailers face a huge opportunity and an enormous threat. As shoppers seek ever greater convenience proximity and flexibility, bricks and mortar retailers may find their customer bases dwindle as shoppers are attracted online. Yet those who embrace the potential stand to gain, not only from lower barriers to entry into new markets, but also from new ways to enhance loyalty.

Manufacturers could be the beneficiaries of closer relationships with shoppers and of more personalized and social communications techniques which offer the potential to create stronger bonds between brands and consumers. They risk falling behind the curve and becoming eclipsed by competitors who prove themselves to be more relevant or by failing to capitalize on growing online retail environments.

Shopper Behavior – asking the wrong questions

My second key take away is the huge importance of constructing an in-depth understanding of consumer and shopper behavior. Much was made of the importance of insight and the conference exposed the value of both traditional and emerging techniques to get inside the minds people along the path to purchase. What strikes me is that this is an industry that doesn’t lack data but rather struggles to find insight.

In part I feel this is because many ask the wrong questions: seeking a commentary on what currently happens rather than exploring what does not. Too often companies seek to understand those who currently buy and use a brand rather than those who do not, thus limiting the potential to apply data to assess new opportunities.

What’s Next?

My third take away from the summit is that having listened to a vast amount of analysis and commentary I feel many will be left asking, “what next?”. A recent POPAI report  showed the majority of businesses lack a process for managing marketing through the path to purchase. I believe that without a framework to filter information we struggle to apply it. Mike Anthony and I devised our five- step process to help in this. We seek first to understand consumption priorities then decide shopper behavior in order to prioritize channels. This enables the development of a marketing mix and helps construct a framework for investment.

Using this approach I’d summarize my learning from the Path to Purchase Summit as follows: we are learning more and more about what consumers want everyday and in general we see the desire for individuality and social relevance becoming more important.

We find shoppers have massively extended choice and access to information which helps then make smarter decisions. We see that online and offline retail environments enable shoppers to channel hop in search of best value. This means that marketing mixes will need to be applied more dynamically in the future based in a clear understanding of what behavior is to be encouraged. This will inevitably change the investment environment which is likely to have a profound impact on advertising agencies and retailers in the future.

In closing

Will participants walk away happy? I think many will; there’s much to be gained from hearing from the experts that spoke at the event about the developments in the field and how they might affect changes in the industry. I think some may go away feeling that more specific input on practical application would have been useful and many noted that the talks given by the teams at Kraft and at Heinz offered some really valuable inputs. I’d personally like to thank the organizers of the event for giving me the opportunity to offer my advice in this area.

If you’d like to see the slides from my ‘Strategies To Enhance Shopper Marketing’ presentation please go here

If you’d like to see the slides from my ‘Decoding The Path To Purchase’ presentation please go here

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