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Consumers’ Journey to Purchase: A Long and Winding Road?

Consumers’ Journey to Purchase: A Long and Winding Road?

Manufacturers and retailers alike need to know where, when and how to connect with consumers along their purchase journey; however, winning the sale is not the final destination.

Understanding post-purchase behaviours is equally critical for the industry as these steps ultimately lead the consumer to return to the path to purchase.

Smartphones present a convenient example of the cyclical nature of technology consumption. We research, buy a device, use it and ultimately dispose of and/or replace it with a new one. But while each product purchase journey follows this trajectory, the steps can vary greatly.

The Path to Purchase

A trio of Consumers’ Journey to Purchase reports from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) defines the steps to purchase for audio, health and fitness, and mobile devices. The research reveals five basic buyer waypoints intrinsic to the sale of consumer technologies, beginning with 1) requirements. Most purchase journeys commence with assessing requirements. Repeat purchases (i.e., smartphones) may skip the requirements step, for example.

Like hop-scotch, the next steps of 2) conducting research and 3) assessing product options often occur together, but can modulate between online and physical stores. From here, consumers 4) decide where to buy and 5)make the purchase—either online or from a physical store.

CTA’s research identifies influence factors that act like roadside billboards as consumers move toward the register. Major influencers include: friends/family, salespeople, a store display and online reviews. Across the audio, health and fitness and mobile device purchase journeys CTA examined, a friend or family member had the largest impact on influencing the purchase.

Following the Sale

After the sale is made, behavioral paths diverge and some journeys, unhappily, run aground in a return or refund. CTA’s recent Consumer Technology Post Purchase Report is the epilogue of the buying experience, exploring: purchase satisfaction, product registration, return activities and resolutions, warranty claims, device replacement/disposal and future use intent.

The research found post-purchase satisfaction is high (94 percent) across the more than three-dozen product categories surveyed, with audio (98 percent) and health and fitness (97 percent) purchasers exhibiting the highest satisfaction

More than half of consumers registered their product with the manufacturer, either at the time of purchase or afterward. Registration is the most common action taken at the time of purchase (34 percent), while post-purchase, consumers are eager to share about their new technology as more than half (56 percent ) either write an online review, tell a friend or family member, or post pictures or videos to social media. Here’s evidence why these actions are so influential to consumers on the path to purchase.

Few consumer technology purchasers buy installation/ setup service after the sale. Among those who do find they need help with installation after getting their tech product home, the biggest factors are time involved in the install (39 percent), needing more than one person to complete the install (26 percent), and the install was more difficult than anticipated (18 percent). This is why retailers need to talk to customers about install services on the sales floor before they realize they need it.

On the warranty front, 40 percent of consumers say they buy extended warranties. And only a handful of consumers filed a warranty claim within the first year of ownership; but those who did reported satisfaction with the outcome. More good news is the percentage of consumers returning a product was also very low. The most common reasons for returns are the product did not work as expected (32 percent), purchased similar/multiple products and decided not to keep that one (32 percent ), and the product not working out of the box (30 percent). Service after the sale is vital to building loyalty and essential to putting customers back on the purchase path.

Steve Koenig, Sr. Director, Market Research, Consumer Technology Association

Main Article: https://www.cta.tech/News/i3/Articles/2016/March-April/Consumers-Journey-to-Purchase-A-Long-and-Winding.aspx

EFF Times (Editor)

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