How Digital Devices Have Turned a Purchase Path into a Purchase Odyssey

By A+E Networks InSites Archives
Cover image for  article: How Digital Devices Have Turned a Purchase Path into a Purchase Odyssey

When was the last time you watched a TV show, saw a commercial, researched the product online, got off the couch, went to a store and made a purchase? It just doesn't happen like that anymore. Of course, consumers continue to take action from advertising, and TV remains the dominant screen in influencing consumer behavior.

But today's consumers are in a perpetual state of shopping and media consumption across a multitude of screens.

Click below to download the A+E Networks Insights Report,The Evolving Path-to-Purchase: The multi-screen effect on purchase behavior.

Just as technology and consumer behavior have evolved, so must a marketer's strategy. Consumers no longer follow a "path" to a purchase or "flow" down the funnel; now they embark on more of a purchase odyssey – a long journey full of adventures, made up of a series of experiences on a variety of devices.

There are three phases to this odyssey – discovery, exploration and purchase. At each phase, about half of the connected consumers are likely to turn to their laptop and a third are likely to turn to their desktop. Mobile devices factor in as well. One in five consumers used a tablet or smartphone during the discovery phase, because those devices are always to hand. Almost 40% of those turned to these screens to explore further, but when it comes to making a purchase the vast majority switch to a laptop or desktop computer. Over half of those switching devices did so for a better user experience.

As more and more consumers embark on their own purchase odyssey it's imperative for brands – as well as content providers – to know their product inside and out, to be realistic about consumer interaction and to act on real data, not headlines.

More devices, more media options and better technology all potentially lead to more opportunities for brands to reach a target audience and drive revenue. The big challenge is accurately measuring usage across multiple devices. The reality is that technology is moving faster than our ability to track it effectively. According to 2014 Nielsen figures, only 11% of marketers strongly believe content providers can reach their intended audience, up just one percentage point from 2013.

Context is everything when it comes to connecting with consumers across devices. Most people don't think about the device at all; they just turn to whatever screen is with them when they want to look into a product. They will often use more than one type of screen, sequentially or simultaneously, but the television remains the most used screen in consumers' lives. It accounts for over 36 hours of viewing a week compared to just over seven hours for smartphones and almost six hours for PCs.

Television is the undisputed leader in consumption of video content. It's always on, connecting brands and consumers who are always on a purchase odyssey, whether they know it or not. Of all forms of video programming, only short form videos are watched more on mobile devices than on televisions. In many instances, however, a digital device is the first screen consumers go to for content.

Media consumption has fragmented considerably over the last decade and purchase path has evolved to a purchase odyssey. As digital platforms continue to grow the role of each screen becomes clearer. In such an omni-channel world a consumer-centric focus is vital. Brands are no longer in charge, the consumer is. Regardless of screen, marketers need to be social, interactive and available to all consumers, wherever they might be.

Learn more about marketing challenges and solutions by clicking below to download the A+E Networks Insights Report,The Evolving Path-to-Purchase: The multi-screen effect on purchase behavior.

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