How Digital Technologies Are
Impacting Consumers Along
the Purchase Decision Journey
“The shift in consumer decision making means
that marketers need to adjust their spending
and to view the change not as a loss of power
over consumers but as an opportunity to be in
the right place at the right time, giving them the
information and support they need to make the
—“The Consumer Decision Journey”
McKinsey Quarterly, June 2009
D igital technologies have had a dramatic impact on the relationships consumers have
with brands and on the way they shop for them. Consumers are empowered like never
before. They are using these technologies to plan their shopping trips—researching products,
getting usage ideas, seeking out deals and reviewing the opinions of peers and experts—
and are entering the store with many of their brand decisions already made. While much of
this behavior is being driven by newfound, on-demand access to information anytime,
anywhere, both at home online and on the go on mobile devices, the economic downturn
has heightened it. Consumers are taking a more disciplined approach to shopping; tighter
budgets mean that shoppers want to avoid any mistakes. The conventional wisdom has
always been that most brand purchase decisions are made in the store. But with the new,
digitally empowered consumer entering the store better prepared than ever before, is the
new reality that most purchase decisions are made at home or on the way to the store? The
truth most likely lies somewhere in between.
So how can manufacturers ensure that their brands are included in the consideration set
and make the final cut? They must identify shopper needs and behaviors at every phase
during the purchase decision journey and deliver relevant experiences that shape purchase
decisions, from pre-purchase to point of purchase, from consumption experience to post-
Table of Contents
1: The Rise of the Digitally
2: The Purchase Decision Journey and
the Four Phases of Brand Commitment
3: The Digital Toolbox
4: Five Principles for Developing an
Effective Digital Shopper Marketing Plan
1: The Rise of the Digitally Empowered Shopper
W ebsites. Search engines. Rich media ads. Blogs.
Facebook. Twitter. Flickr. YouTube. Wikis. Widgets.
SMS/MMS/WAP. QR codes. Mobile apps.
and on the way they shop for them—how they plan, de-
termine and complete their purchases. Until recently,
the conventional wisdom was that 70% of brand pur-
chase decisions were made in the store.1 Now technol-
These advances in technology have resulted in a funda- ogy, coupled with consumer concerns about the state
mental shift in the way people consume media—from of the U.S. economy, may be creating a new reality, one
passive engagement to active participation. Consum- where more decisions are made outside the store.
ers are evolving into content creators, distributors, pro- Some research indicates that as many as 76% of pur-
grammers and critics. They demand information when, chase decisions these days are being made at home.2
where and how they want it, filtered by their peers,
backed by expert opinions and shared with friends. Three trends, enabled by technology, have given rise to
They have, in effect, wrested control away from publish- the new digital shopper: the Google mindset, social
ers and advertisers. media and 24/7 connectivity.
This newfound control is also having a major impact on
the nature of the relationships people have with brands
I. ThE GooGlE MInDSET: grown by 50% between 2005 and 2008, to 36 million.5
RESEaRCh anD MoRE RESEaRCh The shift in attitudes and behaviors may be permanent:
70% of consumers claim that they will maintain some or
C onsumers are using technology to gather large
amounts of information about the products they
buy. And that research isn’t necessarily limited to
most of the behaviors they have adopted during the re-
cession well after it ends.6
products that will be purchased online or that are high- With the Internet playing such a crucial role in how con-
involvement decisions: 70% of consumers indicate sumers shop, it is not surprising that 48% of consumers
that they are researching everyday grocery products indicate that the Internet has increased in importance in
online.3 their lives compared with the previous year.7
The economic downturn has heightened product re-
search by consumers, driving them to adopt new strate-
gies as they consider every dollar spent and attempt to
avoid making mistakes they’ll regret. Two-thirds are
preparing shopping lists prior to store visits.4 More and 93% of consumers research
more consumers are checking store circulars before or products online before
at the store (71%, up from 64% in 2007) and are bring-
ing along coupons (82%, up from 63% in 2007).2 About purchasing them in a store.8
a quarter of these coupon clippers are finding coupons
online; the number of people using online coupons has
1: The Rise of the Digitally Empowered Shopper
“The explosion in Consumer Generated Media over
the last couple of years means consumers’ reliance
on word of mouth in the decision-making process,
either from people they know or online consumers
they don’t, has increased significantly.”
—Jonathan Carson, President of Online,
II. SoCIal MEDIa: ers’ reliance on word of mouth in the decision-making
EMpowERInG woRD of MouTh process, either from people they know or online con-
sumers they don’t, has increased significantly.”10 And
O nly one in four consumers believes that advertis-
ing is a credible source of product information.9
But what many do find to be credible are the opinions
studies back this up. While 90% of consumers trust
recommendations from people they know, an eye-
opening 70% completely or somewhat trust the rec-
and recommendations of friends and family. A host ommendations of consumer opinions posted online.11
of social media platforms, such as message boards, What’s more, 84% claim that online customer evalua-
blogs, and user ratings and reviews, have enabled tions influence their purchase decisions.12
consumers to easily share opinions, and social net-
works have expanded the reach of this content and III. 24/7 ConnECTIvITy:
the very definition of “friends and family.” Jonathan MobIlE aS an ExTEnSIon of ThE CoMpuTER
Carson, President of Online, International, at Nielsen,
posits that the “explosion in Consumer Generated
Media over the last couple of years means consum- W ith broadband access at 82%, consumers are
increasingly reliant on the Internet to organize,
simplify and add new capabilities to their lives.13 The
growth in mobile phone penetration, currently at 81%,
means that consumers are always connected, with
readily available information at their fingertips, both at
home and on the go.13 In fact, on a typical day, half of
mobile users go online with a mobile device, checking
email, accessing the Internet, texting, watching videos 10% have used a
or getting maps or directions.14 While most people con-
sider mobile access important for staying in touch with
others, they equally value it as a way to obtain instant to text-message a friend
or family member
Smartphones, and the iPhone in particular, are game
changers, with their computer-like functionality driving about a product
the growth of the mobile Web. Their nearly 19% share
will increase dramatically over the next few years as
people replace their older mobile devices.15 Smart-
phone users are heavily invested in their phones and
tend to use other functions, beyond voice and texting,
while on the go: 80% surf the Web,16 while about 16%
search the Internet for products and services.15
2: The purchase Decision Journey and the four phases of brand Commitment
D igitally empowered shoppers are using technology
to find and research products, to determine how
much to pay for them and where to buy them, to un-
gaining confidence are key as consumers evaluate the
options, plan for the shopping trip and commit to
cover deals and special offers, and to consult with peers
and experts. The 24/7 connectivity that mobile devices • Point of Purchase: During this phase, consumers
offer means that not only do consumers have access to survey the store, search for a product and select a par-
information while on the go and at the store, but retail- ticular brand. They are able to physically compare prod-
ers and manufacturers have expanded opportunities to ucts and select or deselect specific ones. They may also
reach and influence them at key points along the pur- find inspiration in the form of product usage ideas, pro-
chase decision journey. motional offers, or other products or brands that they
had not considered earlier. A positive shopping experi-
More importantly, access to digital content doesn’t end ence will reinforce the consumer’s commitment to both
at purchase. Consumers also go online for information the brand and the retailer.
on how to use a product they have bought, then return
online after they’ve experienced their purchase to re- • Experience: After purchase, the consumer experi-
flect on the experience and to share their opinions with ences the product, interacting with the packaging and
others. ultimately using the product. At this point, consumers
will seek advice on stocking, preparation and usage.
These shopper behaviors are captured in the follow- Positive usage experiences will provide validation that
ing four phases of brand commitment that occur once a they made the right choice and reinforce brand commit-
purchase journey has been triggered. ment, which can influence future purchases.
• Pre-Purchase: During this phase, consumers ac- • Reflection: During this phase, consumers assess
tively seek out information that will influence pur- the entire experience, from Pre-Purchase to Point of
chase. They research products, look for offers, review Purchase to Experience. A positive experience at each
the opinions of peers and experts, prepare shop- phase will reinforce brand commitment, while a nega-
ping lists and select stores. Acquiring knowledge and tive one will lead to brand rejection. During this phase,
IO P U
Stocking Retail impression
Consuming Getting inspired
E T O
consumers will share their experiences with their peers phase. Maximizing brand commitment requires first
and, in the process, review the opinions of others. Those understanding shopper needs and behaviors at each
opinions have the potential to influence their own evalu- phase, then delivering against those needs as part of a
ations positively or negatively. comprehensive marketing plan that may include both
digital and traditional initiatives. Our focus here is on
Each of these phases can either reinforce or weaken digital initiatives.
connections made with the brand in the previous
3: The Digital Toolbox: Pre-Purchase Phase
M arketers have an overwhelming number of digital tools and technologies in their arsenal, but which will cre-
ate the most relevant, engaging interactive experiences and activate consumers? Brand commitment at each
phase of the purchase decision journey, and thereby higher sales, can be achieved by matching appropriate digital
solutions to the goals and needs of three key players—the shopper, the manufacturer and the retailer—as reviewed
on the pages that follow.
Manufacturer Goals Retailer Goals Shopper Goals
BRAND ENGAGEMENT STORE COMMITMENT KNOWLEDGE AND CONFIDENCE
Activate the purchase decision journey Product research
Activate the purchase decision journey • •
• Assist and inﬂuence product research Offer research
Assist and inﬂuence product research • •
• Address barriers to purchase Brand selection
Address barriers to purchase • •
• Assist shoppers in preparing List creation
Assist shoppers in preparing for their shopping trips •
for their shopping trips Store selection
ONLINE MOBILE IN-STORE
Websites (manufacturer, retailer, social media) WAP N/A
Advertising Mobile apps
User ratings/reviews QR codes
PRE-PURChASE PhASE TOOlBOx.
I. ThE PRE-PuRchasE PhasE DIgITal Toolbox PlACECAST’S MOBIlE AD
NETWORk DElIvERS DYNAMIC
MESSAGING BASED ON CONSUMER
n the Pre-Purchase Phase, a purchase journey has BEhAvIOR AND lOCATION.
been triggered and consumers are focused on gather-
ing the information they need for their shopping trip.
Manufacturers seek to drive brand engagement and
commitment, while retailers want to drive consumers to
their store to complete the purchase. A variety of online
and mobile tools can be deployed to address the goals
of all three players, including search, website utilities,
peer-to-peer communications, digital coupons and/or
mobile applications, or apps.
Search: Given that most consumers begin their prod-
uct research using search engines, marketers are shift-
ing more of their budgets to search engine marketing
(SEM) and ensuring that their websites are search en- QWIkkER hOT SPOTS DElIvER CONTENT
gine optimized (SEO). Some retailers, like Target, are AND SPECIAl OFFERS AT NO COST
TO USERS WITh BlUETOOTh-ENABlED
taking advantage of paid search results to drive con- MOBIlE DEvICES.
sumers directly to online circulars promoting special of- content and special offers at no cost to users on the
fers. Reaching consumers through search can also be go, adding measurability to out-of-home advertis-
extended to mobile devices, with the added bonus of ing. As part of a recent campaign for Pepsi Smash de-
GPS location-based results. Placecast’s mobile ad net- signed to increase brand engagement, transit shelter
work delivers dynamic messaging based on consumer ads prompted passersby to turn on Bluetooth on their
behavior and location. A mobile user searching for run- phones and opt in to receive MicPass hip-hop video
ning events while walking near a Niketown, for example, clips. The campaign yielded a 23% opt-in rate. Another
will be alerted to running gear sold nearby. Bluetooth campaign was designed to drive mall traffic
to local restaurants. Mall billboards alerted shoppers
location-based Targeting: location-based target- to download $2 off Miller Beer coupons redeemable at
ing can also serve to trigger purchases or to encour- specific restaurants. This location-based targeting cam-
age brand engagement. Bluetooth technology delivers paign resulted in a 13% opt-in rate.18
website and Mobile utilities: Marketers can deploy a
variety of Web and mobile utilities to overcome barri-
ers to purchase and get their products on consumers’
shopping lists. A challenge for a drugstore brand like MAkEUP MIRROR
CoverGirl is the inability of shoppers to try on cosmetics lETS USERS
vIRTUAllY TRY ON
before purchasing them, something that they are able COSMETICS.
to do in department stores with the assistance of beauty
consultants. To address this barrier, CoverGirl’s website
offers the CG Makeup Mirror, a virtual makeup try-on
utility. A user uploads her photo and applies cosmetics
to it, getting a preview of what various colors would look
like. Products may be saved to a shopping list, which can
iFOOD DElIvERS MEAl
be printed or sent to a mobile device, bringing the user SOlUTIONS TO iPhONE USERS.
one step closer to making a purchase.
entire purchase journey. In the
Many marketers are adapting their existing website case of the iFood Assistant, users
utilities or creating new ones for mobile distribution. can plan their meals for the week
kraft’s iFood Assistant iPhone app, launched in Decem- and prepare shopping lists dur-
ber 2008, helps consumers with meal planning, shop- ing their commute to work. They
ping and preparation. Users browse recipes, create can then access the lists while at
shopping lists organized by store aisle and then locate the store and even find a recipe
nearby stores via GPS. The app is also synced up with for the broccoli that happens to
kraft’s website (kraftfoods.com), enabling users to ac- be on sale. At home, they can pre-
cess their recipe boxes and shopping lists on the go. It is pare the recipe while watching an instructional video
priced at $0.99, and although it is sprinkled with ads for on the app. later, at the time and place of their choos-
kraft products, it is consistently among iPhone’s top 100 ing, they can rate and review the recipe via the app.
Peer-to-Peer communications: Customer reviews and
The portability of mobile apps means that they can be recommendations greatly influence the buying decisions
deployed by marketers to shape decisions during the of shoppers. Thus, it is not surprising that mobile apps
Dunkin’ Donuts’ Dunkin’ Run is tak-
ing a social approach to shopping prepara-
tion. Its Dunkin’ Run website, mobile site and
iPhone app make it easy for a user to compile
separate coffee orders from multiple friends
and create one consolidated list that can
be viewed in an email, on the mobile site or
COvERGIRl UTIlIzES PEER-TO-PEER RATINGS TO on the iPhone app, or printed out to bring to
ACTIvATE INTEREST AND DESIRE.
and websites alike are integrating ratings and reviews
into their offerings to influence consumers during
their purchase decision journey. Manufacturers and
retailers of a wide range of products, from cereals to
vacuum cleaners to automobiles, are posting user rat-
ings and comments on their websites. CoverGirl takes
user-generated content one step further, incorporating
ratings and reviews in email newsletter communications
to website subscribers, alerting them to the beauty
products rated most highly by CoverGirl’s online
Many brands are identifying and engaging with influenc-
ers through social media to help shape consumer
decisions during the purchase journey. Rubbermaid de-
ploys a blogger outreach program to get the message out
about product benefits through the voice of the consumer.
It provides bloggers with product samples and encour-
ages them to discuss their experiences with others.
Content Distribution and Digital Toolkits: Since
consumers rely on a variety of online resources to IS FEATURED ON AOl FOOD.
research products—manufacturer sites, retailer sites,
third-party review sites, blogs—it makes sense to ex-
tend the content reach beyond websites via content
partnerships. For example, the Campbell’s kitchen
website (campbellkitchen.com) is a sponsor of the
Dinner Tonight section of AOl Food, which features
Campbell’s recipes and reaches busy cooks seeking
recipe ideas beyond the website.
likewise, brands can provide online retailers with con-
tent and utilities to help drive sales. These websites are
playing an increasingly important role along the pur-
chase decision journey as shoppers seek out deals:
traffic to retailer online circulars grew 26% between
November 2007 and 2008.20 The Grocery Shopper CANON’S 360 PRODUCT TOUR IS MADE
AvAIlABlE ON CIRCUITCITY.COM.
Network makes it easy for consumer packaged goods
manufacturers to distribute content, such as recipes, rates than print coupons, because while consumers
to grocer websites. Additionally, contextually relevant often forget to take their coupons to the store, they
ad placements on those sites offer the ability to add will rarely leave their mobile devices behind. Mobile
advertised products to shopping lists directly from coupon apps, such as Yowza!!, take advantage of the
within the ads. For example, 360 product tours for iPhone’s GPS capabilities to deliver electronic cou-
Canon products can be found on CircuitCity.com. pons for a variety of retailers and quick-service res-
taurants (QSRs) based on a user’s physical location.
Digital Coupons: As consumers look for ways to
stretch their budgets and as newspaper circulation
declines, coupon websites, such as Coupons.com
and SmartSource.com, are experiencing record- Mobile coupon redemption
breaking traffic, stealing share from newspaper FSIs.
Mobile coupons are also becoming increasingly pop-
rates average 5%–15%.
ular. These coupons tend to have higher redemption
QSRs have successfully launched mobile coupon pro-
grams, with cashiers either manually entering the
coupon codes or merely viewing the coupons on the
mobile device. high-volume, low-margin supermarkets
have had a harder time with implementation, since most
checkout scanners are unable to recognize coupon bar CEllFIRE USERS APPlY COUPONS TO
ThEIR GROCERY lOYAlTY CARDS.
codes, and cashiers can’t slow down lines to manually
enter the codes. Cellfire and AOl’s Shortcuts have over-
come this barrier by linking coupons to grocery loyalty
cards. Users planning their shopping trips can browse
coupons either online or on their mobile devices and
apply the coupons to their loyalty cards. They can also
browse coupon offers on their mobile devices while at
the point of purchase. The savings are automatically
realized when the purchase is made. Cellfire’s initial
tests indicate redemption rates averaging 5%–15%, far
exceeding the 1% average for paper coupons.21 lAYAR’S MOBIlE
product Research Mobile apps: Mobile apps are be- ABOUT hOMES FOR
coming increasingly important in reaching and engag-
ing consumers while they are researching purchases.
For example, users of the SnapTell mobile app can pho-
tograph the cover of any CD, DvD, book or video game,
and the app will identify the product and provide local with their pre-purchase research. Users of Metaio’s
and online retailer price information, as well as product iliving iPhone app take a photograph of the room they
ratings. Android users can also take advantage of their want to furnish and then virtually place furniture in the
mobile devices’ bar-code scanning capabilities as an- room to get an idea of how it would look. The mobile
other means to get product information. augmented reality browser of SPRxmobile’s layar app
associates and displays digital content—for example,
Augmented reality apps, which blend the real world with real estate for sale, popular bars, ATMs—over the reality
digital data, are being launched to assist consumers on view through the mobile camera’s lens.
3: The Digital Toolbox: Point of Purchase Phase
II. ThE poInT of puRChaSE phaSE DIGITal Toolbox
D uring the Point of Purchase Phase, consumers are focused on retrieving the research and offers they had
amassed during the Pre-Purchase Phase, finding the products, making their selections and completing their
purchases. They may be inspired to deviate from their planned purchases by any new information they acquire at
the store. In this phase, the manufacturer is focused on increasing share of basket, whereas the retailer is focused on
increasing basket size, but both want to make it as easy as possible for shoppers to find the items they are looking
for. Mobile technologies, such as quick-response two-dimensional bar codes (or QR codes), WAP-enabled sites and
short message service (SMS), are particularly relevant in the store environment, as are other in-store technologies,
such as kiosks and handheld scanners.
Manufacturer Goals Retailer Goals Shopper Goals
INCREASE SHARE OF BASKET INCREASE BASKET SIZE POSITIVE SHOPPING EXPERIENCE
Assist in locating products Assist in locating products Pre-store research Reassurance
• • and offer retrieval •
Provide relevant solutions Inspire unplanned purchases • Selection
• • Product search •
Ensure positive shopping experiences Provide relevant solutions • Purchase
• Product discovery
Ensure positive store experiences •
ONLINE MOBILE IN-STORE
Retailer website digital toolkits WAP QR codes
Mobile apps Mobile image recognition search
QR codes Kiosks
Mobile image recognition search Handheld scanners
GPS Interactive carts
SMS/MMS Smart shelves
POINT OF PURChASE PhASE TOOlBOx.
Mobile product Research utilities: Mobile should be
an integral part of marketers’ in-store shopper strate-
gies, providing consumers with the information they ClOThING ShOPPERS CAN
vIEW COMPlETE OUTFITS.
need at the point of sale. QR codes extend the value of
product packaging by providing shoppers with easy ac-
cess to additional information on their mobile devices,
helping them with their purchase decisions. For exam-
ple, a shopper who takes a snapshot of a QR code on a
Woollaston wine label with a mobile device is linked to
wine reviews and tasting notes. QR codes are also being
used to cross-sell products in-store, driving incremen-
tal purchases. Although these codes are still in their in-
fancy in the United States, it is predicted that within the SEvENTh GENERATION’S lABEl READING
GUIDE AllOWS ShOPPERS TO lOOk UP
next two years, most mobile phones will come with pre- lABEl INGREDIENTS WhIlE AT ThE STORE.
installed QR code scanner apps.22 Meanwhile, market-
ers can deliver similar experiences via SMS marketing.
Calls to action can be placed in any media—shelf talkers,
packaging, circulars—and consumers can initiate text
messages to receive quick links to additional content.
Mobile videos are being used to address barriers to
purchase and provide a work-around for any retailer is complicated) and could also be used at home after
infrastructure limitations. For example, when The home purchase as a how-to guide.
Depot wanted to convey to shoppers that its Safety
Quick light ceiling fans and light fixtures were easy Mobile apps are gaining more traction in-store. Seventh
to install, it created mobile videos that could educate Generation’s label Reading Guide iPhone app offers a
consumers at the point of purchase. Shelf displays searchable index of ingredients, allowing shoppers to
prompted shoppers to send a text message to receive look up label ingredients while in the store. Users of the
a link that initiated a streamed instructional video on ShopSavvy app can scan product bar codes while at the
how to install a particular fan or fixture. The video over- store to review prices online and at local stores, giving
came a barrier to purchase (perception that installation them the confidence to complete their purchases.
Recognizing that consumer product reviews can play
a critical role in influencing purchases when consum-
ers are on the go, Walmart enables its shoppers to text
canon’s WaP-enabled site focuses
product UPC codes to its mobile service to retrieve
primarily on ratings and reviews. The site,
product reviews and additional product information.
powered by the Mobilevoice product review
app, enables shoppers to browse peer-to- Social Shopping Technologies: Amazon.com revo-
peer ratings and reviews of Canon products lutionized social shopping years ago by applying col-
on their mobile devices while at the store. laborative filtering algorithms, based on peer product
purchases and ratings, to product recommendations.
Some marketers are looking beyond peer ratings, en-
abling consumers to interact with a smaller, more trusted
group of people they actually know—that is, friends and
family—while they shop online or offline. Social shop-
ping technologies let consumers virtually connect with
friends at the point of decision, bringing in the element
of fun while providing the validation they may need to
Bloomingdale’s experimented with social shopping in
2007. Its virtual Mirror enabled shoppers to connect
live with friends and family members as they modeled
outfits in front of a mirror. Shoppers could send pho-
tos or videos of themselves to their MySpace page or
to friends via email or cell phone. The friends voted
“yes” or “no” on an outfit in real time and could text-
message back. The mirror displayed the vote tally and
ShopTogether, Sesh, Fluid Social and other social shop-
ping technology vendors empower shoppers to in-
tegrate their friends and family into their shopping
zugara is combining the functionality of augmented
reality and motion capture to take social shopping to
a new level. Its Webcam Social Shopper prototype al-
lows shoppers to virtually try on clothes by using their
webcams and computers, seemingly holding articles of
ChARlOTTERUSSE.COM clothing in front of themselves and creating the illusion
ShOPPERS ShARE ShOPPING
SESSIONS WITh ThEIR that they are wearing them. They can livestream their
FRIENDS, GETTING ThE
vAlIDATION NECESSARY TO webcams’ feeds to friends and family, and receive com-
COMPlETE ThE PURChASE.
ments and feedback in real time.
“Inspector Gadget has
taken up residence in retail
ShOPPING APP COUPlES
ThE FUNCTIONAlITY OF
stores, with coupon-dispensing
AUGMENTED REAlITY WITh
MOTION CAPTURE. kiosks, Web Tv cooking
scanners, smart carts picking
products based on grocery
sessions at online retail sites. For example, visitors to lists, text reminders of last
the website of Charlotte Russe, a teen clothing and ac-
cessories retailer, invite friends at different locations to minute items, and Internet
shop with them virtually on the site via collaborative sites that track purchases and
chat sessions. Early results from technology vendors in-
dicate that shoppers who engage with these technolo- analyze nutritional content.
gies spend more time on retailer sites and have larger
order values as they share product ideas with their
Technology is changing the
friends.23 rules at retail.”24
In-store Technology solutions: Interactive technol-
ogies are being deployed at retail to bring the store
to life, to provide personalized experiences and so- UkROP’S kIOSkS
lutions, and to help shoppers find the products that DISPENSE PERSONAlIzED
CIRCUlARS TO lOYAlTY
are right for them. ShoptoCook’s kiosks distribute PROGRAM MEMBERS.
branded recipes and coupons to shoppers who seek
inspiration for quick and easy meal ideas. The com-
pany’s research indicates that 80% of those who get
recipes in-store buy the ingredients to make them.
Ukrop’s loyalty program members scan their cards at
Savings Spot kiosks when they arrive at a Ukrop’s gro-
cery store in order to receive personalized circulars
with messaging and offers based on their purchase
history. Offers may include unadvertised specials for
Modiv Media’s Scan It! system for supermarkets also
brings personalization into the retail environment,
combining shopper data (loyalty card purchase and
MODIv MEDIA’S SCAN
redemption history), contextual data (radio-frequency IT! SYSTEM BRINGS
PERSONAlIzATION INTO ThE
identification, or RFID) and behavioral data (products RETAIl ENvIRONMENT.
put in the shopping cart) to deliver targeted advertis-
ing and promotions. Shoppers scan their loyalty card
at a Scan It! kiosk upon entering the store to access
a handheld scanner device. They scan items as they function similarly and can provide additional services
put them in their cart and get cross-promotions and on their screens, including product demonstrations
special offers. MediaCart’s interactive shopping carts and directions for finding items within the store.
In-store Digital Networks: In-store digital screens
and networks provide succinct, clear and relevant mes-
sages that remind shoppers of brand associations or
give compelling reasons to purchase a particular brand
at the point of purchase. The Walmart Smart Network,
for example, deploys message optimization technolo-
gies that enable the delivery of targeted content by
store, by screen location, by day and by time of day.
New technologies are adding additional layers of per-
sonalization to these screens. METRO’s Extra Future
Store in Rheinberg, Germany, has experimented with
linking in-store screens to RFID product tags to deliver
more relevant messaging and promotions. When shop-
pers pick up tagged Pantene products, for example,
an overhead screen delivers cross-promotional prod-
uct offers. YCD Multimedia is testing facial-recognition
technology to enhance in-store screen messaging. A
ThE WAlMART SMART NETWORk DElIvERS TARGETED CONTENT.
shopper’s facial features—nose size and shape, eyes,
cheekbones, jawline—are analyzed to determine the
shopper’s particular demographics, resulting in highly
targeted advertisements. loyalty card data and in-store locations to deliver tar-
geted messages and offers to shoppers’ mobile de-
Many of these stand-alone technology solutions and in- vices. Its Wi-Fi hot spots can identify and alert shoppers
store digital networks may eventually be integrated into within a 3-foot radius to promotional offers while they
consumers’ personal mobile devices. Acuity Mobile’s are still shopping rather than after checkout (for exam-
AisleCaster, currently in development, will link grocer ple, Catalina Marketing).
3: The Digital Toolbox: Experience Phase
III. ThE ExpERIEnCE phaSE DIGITal Toolbox
D uring the Experience Phase, when consumers experience their purchases and validate their brand choices, they
seek usage directions and suggestions. Their experiences will contribute to determining their brand loyalty and
what they will share with others. Depending on the type of purchase, the approval of others may play a role. For
example, a mom who has purchased Ragu pasta sauce for dinner will take her family’s feedback into consideration
when later evaluating the experience. In this phase, both manufacturers and retailers can provide usage ideas and
customer service solutions to ensure positive brand experiences. A variety of online and mobile customer service
solutions, community tools and videos can address the goals of all three players.
Manufacturer Goals Retailer Goals Shopper Goals
PRODUCT USAGE AND SATISFACTION PRODUCT USAGE VALIDATION AND APPROVAL
Provide usage ideas Provide usage ideas Usage directions
• • •
Ensure positive brand experiences Provide customer service solutions Preparation
Provide customer service solutions Consumption
ONLINE MOBILE IN-STORE
Websites (manufacturer, retailer, social media) WAP N/A
Video Mobile apps
IM chat QR codes
Message boards Bluetooth
Email Video podcasts
Mobile image recognition search
ExPERIENCE PhASE TOOlBOx.
product usage Guidance: Providing purchasers
with guidance, advice and suggestions on how to
use a product can ensure that consumers have posi-
tive brand experiences. The QR codes that Springer
Mountain Farms places on its chicken packaging al-
lows mobile users immediate access to recipes and
promotions at the company’s mobile website. Recipes
on packaging are commonplace, but QR codes add
an element of flexibility. The recipes associated with a SPRINGER MOUNTAIN
FARMS ON-PACk QR
particular QR code can change by the time of day they CODES lINk USERS TO
ThE MOBIlE WEBSITE.
are scanned (for example, a breakfast idea versus a
dinner idea), the day they are scanned (for example, a
quick weekday dinner casserole versus a slow-cooked
stew on weekends) or the season (for example, a
Thanksgiving recipe versus a Christmas one).
Mobile and online videos are also helpful in en-
hancing the brand experience and ensuring suc-
cess, providing step-by-step guidance on how to
use a product. Betty Crocker’s online cooking club,
The Mixer, provides webcasts (live and recorded)
of cooking demonstrations of various recipes by
Betty Crocker experts. home cooks can follow
along, preparing the recipes and having the op-
portunity to ask questions during the live webcasts.
CoverGirl’s step-by-step makeup application tips on
its website and its YouTube channel videos advise
MEMBERS OF BETTY CROCkER’S ONlINE COOkING ClUB
cosmetics purchasers on how to get the desired look CAN COOk AlONG WITh ExPERTS.
using the products they have purchased.
Weber’s on the grill iPhone app,
which features hundreds of recipes linked to a
shopping list that users can take to the store,
provides instructional videos that can be fol-
lowed while grilling. It also includes grilling
techniques and a built-in grill timer that en-
sures that recipes are done to perfection.
COvERGIRl’S lIvE ChAT BEAUTY CONSUlTANTS
ARE AvAIlABlE FROM EvERY PAGE OF ThE SITE
TO PROvIDE ExPERT ADvICE IN REAl TIME.
Customer Service utilities: Digital tools can be used
to help ensure that consumers have positive brand ex-
periences. live Chat is a method of responding to cus-
tomer questions directly in real time through Internet
chat technology. It is useful during the Pre-Purchase
Phase, when consumers are conducting product re-
search on websites and are having difficulty navigat-
ing the sites or determining which products are right
for them. live Chat is often used during the Point of
Purchase Phase by online retailers to proactively in-
vite a shopper to chat when they sense that she may
be about to abandon her shopping cart. During the
Experience Phase, live Chat customer service repre-
sentatives can address consumers’ usage questions.
CoverGirl.com visitors can access CoverGirl’s live
Chat Beauty Consultants from every page of the site
to get advice about how to apply the products they
have purchased. These sessions present an opportu-
nity to promote additional products.
Social Media: “When you have a problem, your
first instinct is not to call customer service because
it’s going to be painful,” says Salesforce.com senior
vice president Alex Dayon.25 Rather, consumers turn
to social media—message boards, blogs, social net-
works—where they can resolve issues on their own
by interacting with one another. Many companies
are enabling these customer self-service discus-
sions by creating forums on their websites. Nestlé’s
veryBestBaking.com community message boards fea-
ture discussions on a wide range of baking topics. A
purchaser of Nestlé Toll house Chocolate Morsels
who is uncertain about how to prepare the on-pack
cookie recipe can tap into the wisdom of other visitors vERYBESTBAkING.COM’S MESSAGE BOARDS ENABlE USERS
to the message board. TO INTERACT WITh EACh OThER ABOUT ThEIR PURChASES.
Marketers are also closely monitoring brand conver- social media. Now a single consumer can broadcast
sations on Twitter and third-party blogs and message a problem to thousands upon thousands, potentially
boards, and stepping in when appropriate to ad- damaging a brand. Companies such as Comcast,
dress customer service issues. While failure to meet JetBlue and Starbucks are engaging their customers
customer expectations has always been an issue, on Twitter, responding to inquiries within hours in a
the risks were not as great prior to the explosion of public forum and turning customers into fans.
3: The Digital Toolbox: Reflection Phase
Iv. ThE REflECTIon phaSE DIGITal Toolbox
D uring the Reflection Phase, consumers evaluate their purchase journey, from Pre-Purchase to Point of Purchase
to Experience. Their evaluation of their experiences will impact retailer and brand loyalty and what they will
share with others. In this phase, both manufacturers and retailers can provide rewards for brand or store choice,
encourage purchasers to share their positive experiences and trigger the purchase cycle again by providing repur-
chase reminders. loyalty programs, social media tools and email and text message reminders are the goals of all
Manufacturer Goals Retailer Goals Shopper Goals
BRAND LOYALTY AND ADVOCACY STORE LOYALTY AND ADVOCACY EMOTIONAL CONNECTION
Reward brand choice Reward store choice
• • Brand evaluation
Enable positive sharing Enable positive sharing •
• • Retail evaluation
Provide repurchase reminders Drive repeat store visits •
• • Sharing and endorsement
Garner insights Garner insights •
ONLINE MOBILE IN-STORE
Websites (manufacturer, retailer, social media) WAP N/A
Message boards Mobile apps
User ratings/reviews QR codes
Photo/video sharing SMS/MMS
Loyalty programs Loyalty programs
REFlECTION PhASE TOOlBOx.
Social Media: While peer-to-peer and expert
reviews play an important role during Pre-Purchase
Phase product research, they also play a role post-
purchase. After making purchases, consumers go
online to voice their opinions in social media, such as
message boards, blogs and social networks. In do-
ing so, they may review what others have said, which
could influence their final evaluations. For example,
a consumer who had little success with an on-pack
macaroni recipe may go online to write a review
of the product and recipe, and find that others are
confidently posting positive experiences. This may
convince her to repurchase the product and give WIllIAMS-SONOMA ENCOURAGES BUYERS TO RETURN TO ThE SITE
TO RATE AND REvIEW ThEIR PURChASES.
the recipe another shot. CoverGirl’s Facebook page
encourages fans to share their product experiences
and engage further with the brand in social media.
CoverGirl website visitors also share opinions on all
products through Bazaarvoice’s ratings and review
software. Similarly, the Campbell’s kitchen website EMAIlS REPlENIShMENT
REMINDERS FOR BEAUTY
allows cooks to share their experiences with others PURChASES.
through its recipe rating and review functionality.
Post-Purchase communications: Online marketers
use post-purchase email communications to encour-
age consumers to share their experiences with oth-
ers; to send them replenishment reminders; and to
cross-promote products that may be of interest to
them. Williams-Sonoma’s emails invite consumers to and other shoppers. Neiman Marcus sends emails to
return to the site to review purchases, stressing the customers who purchased beauty products online
importance of those reviews to both the company to remind them that it is time to purchase again.
the Ride Rewards. This program lets parents earn
points by registering and interacting on the website
EnjoyTheRideRewards.com, and the points are sub-
sequently redeemed for sweepstakes entries and
prizes. My Coke Rewards members accumulate points
for their purchases, which can then be redeemed for
various prizes; members enter UPC codes and man-
age their accounts online or on their mobile devices.
harrah’s mobile loyalty program
for Rio hotel and casino in las
SCANAROO’S MOBIlE APP STORES lOYAlTY CARD INFORMATION. Vegas leverages the property’s customer
database to provide real-time offers, prop-
loyalty programs: Retailers, the travel and hospi- erty information and loyalty points to guests
tality industry, and financial services have long used on their mobile phones. When hotel guests
loyalty rewards programs to strengthen relationships check in, they are prompted to opt in to re-
with their customers. U.S. households currently aver- ceive text message offers on their mobile
age 14.1 program memberships, up 18% from 2007.26 devices and, in turn, receive various offers
That’s a lot of cards to carry around, so mobile ven- during their stay.
dors have launched apps that help consumers orga-
nize all those loyalty cards. The Scanaroo iPhone app
files all loyalty card information in the app; users take
photos of their loyalty cards with their mobile devices,
and the app converts the photos into digital format,
providing on-the-go access.
Brand marketers have been getting on board the
loyalty program bandwagon too. huggies recently
launched the online rewards program huggies Enjoy
4: five principles for Developing an Effective Digital Shopper Marketing plan
I. lEaD WITh shoPPER INsIghTs aND NEEDs, • The Manufacturer: how do shoppers approach
noT wITh TEChnoloGy. the product category and evaluate brands? What is
the role of technology in achieving desired brand po-
It is not about technological bells and whistles to get
shoppers’ attention at retail. It is about focusing on
shopper insights and applying meaningful technol-
sitioning? In driving brand choice? What retailer tech-
nologies can be leveraged to drive brand purchase?
ogy at key touchpoints during the purchase decision Once you have completed the evaluation, map the
journey in order to engage and convert shoppers into right technology solutions against any barriers to pur-
buyers. chase. how can you help consumers determine which
products best address their needs? how can you allay
Start by evaluating the objectives, motivations and any uncertainty consumers might have about brand
technology capabilities of the key players: performance? how can you help them know at which
stores to find the products? And when they are in a
• The shopper: What are shoppers’ technographics? store, how do you help consumers navigate their way
What barriers exist during the purchase decision jour- to the products? how can you guide them in using the
ney? how do consumers approach digital technolo- products? Given the similarity in goals, it behooves
gies in their role as shoppers? retailers and manufacturers to collaborate on some of
the solutions—online, on mobile and in-store.
• The Retailer: What are shoppers’ in-store need
states? What existing digital technologies and infra-
structures can be leveraged to activate shoppers dur-
ing the purchase decision journey?
II. wEavE DIGITal ShoppER MaRkETInG SoluTIonS InTo EvERy TouChpoInT alonG
ThE puRChaSE DECISIon JouRnEy.
M arketers tend to focus on getting consumers to purchase their brands. But there’s a role for digital shopper
marketing post-purchase as well. Provide consumers with the tools they need to ensure positive usage experi-
ences, reinforcing their confidence in the purchase choices they have made. Explore tools that enable consumers
to share their experiences with others, and consider rewarding them for their loyalty and advocacy.
CoverGirl deploys various digital solutions to address barriers during the purchase decision journey. From its in-
teractive website—where visitors can get personal makeup tips and advice from trained Beauty Consultants—to its
WAP-enabled site that shoppers can access in the store to its how-to videos and live Chat functionality to its social
media applications, all technologies serve to influence decisions during the purchase decision journey and trans-
form purchasers into brand loyalists and advocates.
IO P U
Stocking Retail impression
Consuming Getting inspired
E T O
COvERGIRl OFFERS DIGITAl SOlUTIONS AT EvERY PURChASE DECISION
Retail Winners are Testing
III. TEST anD lEaRn.
82% believe that innovation in how to
connect with consumers is a very valuable
opportunity (versus 53% of laggards). N ow is not the time to sit back and wait. Manufactur-
ers and retailers alike are experimenting with new
technologies, gauging consumer reactions and amass-
• ing learning that will give them competitive advantages
in the future. Innovative manufacturers are focused on
32% use in-store digital media connecting with consumers in new ways, forging lasting
(versus 17% of laggards). relationships. Recent research indicates that the most
successful retailers are deploying new technologies
• in-store to drive sales and to create more compelling
and personalized in-store experiences for their custom-
14% use mobile coupons or incentives
ers. They are experimenting with handheld devices,
(versus 9% of laggards).
digital signage and mobile coupons.27
14% provide handheld scanners to shoppers
(versus 4% of laggards).
Note: Winners are defined as those
exceeding average industry growth rate,
and laggards, as those below the average
industry growth rate.
Iv. haRnESS ThE powER of SoCIal MEDIa v. TREaT MobIlE aS ThE ConnECTIvE TISSuE.
DuRInG ThE puRChaSE DECISIon JouRnEy.
W ith peer-to-peer recommendations more impor-
tant than ever and easier to share through digital
l ook to mobile to reach consumers at every touch-
point during the purchase decision journey. It is the
one channel that allows you to follow consumers in their
technologies, it is critical to evaluate how, where and lives and deliver highly targeted and personalized com-
when consumers are sharing opinions and recommen- munications, and it is also highly measurable.
dations in order to determine how to best leverage
these technologies: Mobile devices seamlessly connect what shoppers do
online with what they do in the store. These devices are
• Pre-Purchase: Where are shoppers conducting their always on and always present; they are no longer just
pre-purchase research and which social media are they wireless online devices, but a very personal and custom-
tapping into? ized medium. It is no surprise, then, that mobile is dra-
matically changing the way people shop: from the way
• Point of Purchase: What role does social media play they conduct product research to the way they make
when shoppers are at the store? Do they need to touch selections in-store to the way they experience the pur-
base with friends and family in order to have the confi- chase to the way they, finally, evaluate that purchase.
dence to make purchases? Do they need to check on
the ratings and reviews of peers?
• Experience: how can social media be leveraged to
allow consumers to help one another ensure positive
• Reflection: In what ways can social media be used to
drive brand loyalty and advocacy?
Five Principles for Developing an Effective Digital
Shopper Marketing Plan
Lead with shopper insights
and needs, not with technology.
Weave digital shopper
marketing solutions into
every touchpoint along the
purchase decision journey.
Test and learn.
Harness the power of
social media during the
purchase decision journey.
Treat mobile as the
Digital technologies have revolutionized the shopping landscape, empowering consumers
and permanently altering the way they interact with—and shop for—brands. They research
purchases before, during and after their shopping trips—on computers, on mobile devices
and at kiosks. They demand information at the time and place of their choosing.
These technologies present marketers and retailers with a plethora of innovative and ex-
citing opportunities to reach, engage and influence consumers. Winners in this new world
are navigating ways to best deploy technologies along the purchase decision journey to
maximize brand commitment, delivering consumers the right mix of information, solutions,
inspiration and community. At home. In-store. And on the go.
Are you ready?
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