Canvas Research Study: What We Get Wrong About the Customer Journey

By Canvas Worldwide InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: Canvas Research Study: What We Get Wrong About the Customer Journey

Customer journeys are not a single straightforward path but rather two separate journeys happening simultaneously. That's a topline insight from a recent Canvas Worldwide market research study.

Canvas presented its findings in a webinar hosted by Peter Watkins, Senior Vice President, Managing Director for Canvas Worldwide's Decision Road and Flo Halliwell, Group Strategy Director for Omnicom research and insights agency Hall & Partners. They drilled down into results of a years-long study, the second phase of which included 2,450 participants. It covered 49 brands and eight verticals: apparel, automotive, beer and spirits, fast food, financial planning, insurance, movies and streaming, and skin care.

Adding further context, Watkins noted: "Traditionally in marketing, we've depicted the customer journey as a linear pathway to purchase. What we saw in our work was that the consumer is not on one journey … but two happening simultaneously," he said. "One is a brand journey, which can continue throughout a lifetime. The other, the purchase journey, can be more of a start and stop, sometimes leading to a purchase and sometimes not."

Ultimately, in order for someone to make a purchase, the two journeys need to converge.

"Purchases happen at the intersection of 'buy this and buy now,'" Watkins explained. "When brand affinity is high enough, and purchase propensity is high enough, someone will pull out a credit card."

Brands need to invest the time, energy and money to develop tight relationships with consumers that hold up over years. "If the brand makes them happy -- if it reminds them of things that they like, delivers great value or an exclusive product or service -- that increases brand affinity and purchase propensity," he said.

Canvas's research suggests that of all possible brand encounters, the ones that have the greatest impact on both affinity and propensity are those that make people happy and deliver great value. With that in mind, brands need to carefully consider how they want to curate consumer experiences.

According to Watkins, brand journeys can be very long. Many people in the study discussed interacting with brands for a decade or longer. The relationship is personal, with consumers creating their own stories around the brands. And it's catalytic, meaning the more familiar they are with the brand, the more likely they are to notice it out in the world.

The relationship can also be volatile. "A negative encounter with a brand can have seven times the impact on brand affinity as a positive one," Watkins asserted.

One way brands can increase brand affinity is by exposing consumers to the brand more often and in varying contexts. But that's the hard part, Watkins said. "You have to invest a lot of time and communicate consistently over time to get people to increase their affinity for your brand," he added. "A single misstep can send people's opinion of your brand hurtling."

Meanwhile, purchase journeys generally take place over much shorter timelines, although people certainly spend more time thinking about their purchase of some products (such as automobiles, financial planning, or insurance) than others (fast food or apparel).

Regardless of their ultimate reason for purchase, respondents in the study "usually wanted to treat themselves," Watkins said. This held true even for the less "fun" categories, such as insurance.

The study also uncovered four distinct categories of buyers that tend to be shopping at any given moment:

  1. Clout Hounds -- People who are preoccupied with their image and what a given product says about them. They are more affected by celebrity endorsements and social influencers and are less brand loyal. "If a market shifts, they will shift with it," Watkins noted.
  2. Real Deals -- Consumers who tend to find brands they like and stick with them.
  3. Compulsive Consumers -- People who just like to shop. The endorphins they get from buying a product is as important as the product itself. For this group, "it's all about the experience of shopping and as a consequence," Watkins said. "This group is much less brand loyal."
  4. Straight Shooters -- A group that is the most responsive to brand experiences, whether the reaction is positive or negative. "These people are less concerned about the brand itself," Watkins explained. "They pay attention to whether they are treated with respect. If you make a mistake, they may not ever forgive you. If you deliver a good product or service, there's no reason to make a change."

For each group, "ultimately their purchase decisions reflect the person more than the purchase," Watkins concluded. "The more you can tailor your marketing to the way they think and the way they make an evaluation about a brand or a purchase, the better off you'll be."

Click the social buttons to share this story with colleagues and friends.
The opinions expressed here are the author's views and do not necessarily represent the views of

Copyright ©2024 MediaVillage, Inc. All rights reserved. By using this site you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.