Mapping the Millennial Path-to-Purchase

September 30th, 2016 
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Earlier this week we presented some work on the Millennial path-to-purchase at the MRA conference for corporate researchers. We were joined by our client Kelly Bowie, AVP of Marketing and Consumer Insights at Guardian Life Insurance Company. For your reading pleasure, we’ve posted a summary of the key points, and a copy of our presentation below.

w/ credit to Ed Tufte (Beautiful Evidence, 2006) for the content on slide 16.

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Understanding the customer’s path-to-purchase is an increasingly important topic in consumer insights. Traditional sales funnels tend to depict the customer’s journey as an orderly process—discrete steps, one happening after another. The problem is that these models are focused on actions taken by the company, rather than the experiences of the customer. They tend to oversimplify the nuances and variation in an actual purchase experience, which limits their usefulness to marketing and sales strategy.

Alec Baldwin in his role as a sales executive in the film Glengarry Glenross

There’s a gap between the conventional model of a sales funnel and real behavior.

When we allow customers to depict the journey on their own terms we learn that the process is more messy and improvisational than we assume. In real life people get confused, make mistakes, and cope with incomplete information. It’s really more like an ecosystem than an orderly path.

Graphic depicting factors influencing the customer's purchase journey

Studying the path-to-purchase allows marketers to empathize with customers, identify pain points during, and offer more relevant solutions. In our presentation we provide a set of tools for qualitative researchers that can be used to map out the path to purchase. Our examples are drawn from a study of the purchase process for Millennials buying individual life and disability insurance, but the same techniques can be applied to any category.

Feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions about the research, or our presentation. Thanks again to everyone who joined us on Wednesday at CRC 2016!

Book Club: This Little Pinot Went to Market

July 6th, 2016 
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Book club is a monthly series where we highlight the most informative and inspiring books on marketing, advertising, and business strategy.

This Little Pinot Went to Market Book Cover - Larry Lockshin

Follow the link to buy This Little Pinot Went to Market

Whether you’re dishing out a second course, or a second helping of advertising, we can agree that everything goes better with wine.

From the earliest pages of this book, Professor Larry Lockshin eloquently explains the core ideas of effective strategy, “Marketing, in a sense, is the philosophy of satisfying the buyer that must permeate successful competitive companies . . . the perception [that customers] have of your company is carried by your products and your people in every interaction.” From this vantage point the book takes the reader on a guided tour of wine marketing. Through the lens of wine, the author examines key ideas from marketing science, and how they apply throughout the marketing mix.

The beauty of this approach is that the lessons from these articles can be applied to many categories aside from wine. They reflect fundamentals truths about marketing science and consumer behavior.

The book is structured as a compilation of short, easy-to-read articles. The writing is concise. The examples are direct. The analysis is smart. And if you want to learn how to tell a story that weaves complex theories and research findings into an engaging narrative this book is a useful template.

Lockshin takes on challenging marketing topics like Double Jeopardy theory, salience, segmentation, and market based assets. Throughout the book he somehow manages to convey the significance of these ideas, without burying the reader in data, or sacrificing nuance. As a reader you come away with the impression that, like wine that develops subtleties over time, this straightforward approach reflects his mastery and deep reflection on the subject.

Some of the key ideas/topics covered in this book:

  • Marketing’s role within a company (seems obvious, though it’s often misunderstood)
  • Straightforward explanation of market based assets
  • Identifying factors in the market that contribute to the growth of the category
  • Common mistakes committed by small wineries, which conveniently apply to small brands in other categories
  • A simple way to measure market penetration and see if a brand is on the right growth trajectory
  • The influence of wine labelling and package copy, and strategies for effective packaging
  • Price and pricing strategy
  • Fundamental questions for marketers to answer, and act on (e.g., When and where do people buy? What role does the product play in their lives? Do different groups buy for different reasons? Do they rely on different kinds of information when they buy?)
  • Distribution, and how to form an effective partnership—an aspect of the marketing mix that’s often overlooked, but critically important to building a brand
  • Most importantly, this book makes empirical generalizations from marketing science meaningful by showing how they apply in an actual category

This book is on Plannerzone’s reading list because reading these articles is more engaging than considering theories in abstract, or through the heavy-handed anecdotes that fill marketing textbooks. It’s also very well written, and a good reminder on how to make complex ideas accessible.

As usual, it’s better to let the author speak for himself. The following are two videos, one on the book, and a presentation on the author’s research in wine marketing.

This is a useful primer on the types of things to mention in a book pitch, although I deduct style points for not including a clickable link in the YouTube video or its description.

Book Club: Marketing in the Era of Accountability

June 2nd, 2016 
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Book club is a monthly series where we highlight the most informative and inspiring books on marketing, advertising, and business strategy.

The book cover of Marketing in the Era of Accountability

Marketing in the Era of Accountability, by Les Binet and Peter Field, Warc (2007)

Each month we’ll look at a different book from the Plannerzone reading list. The books are from various disciplines—marketing, economics, medicine, psychology, design—but are all connected by a common thread of strategic thinking.

Every book in the series, in one way or another, addresses the fundamental questions of strategy: what works, what doesn’t work, and why.

This month we’re looking at Marketing in the Era of Accountability, or MEA for short. The book analyzes 880 case studies from advertising campaigns that have been awarded an Effie (IPA Effectiveness Awards). These are, arguably, the most effective marketing campaigns in the world.

By studying these campaigns the authors were able to identify factors that separate good marketing from great marketing. As the introduction explains, “it aims chiefly to narrow the gap between common practice and best practice in marketing . . . this publication will separate out the misleadingly glittering from the truly golden.”

The book analyzes data on six areas of marketing strategy that can help or hurt effectiveness: briefing, budget setting, communications strategy, media strategy, measurement, and payback. In each of these areas MEA challenges common marketing preconceptions, and backs up its claims with meaningful data. Here are examples of key ideas for each area:

Briefing. “Direct response metrics help make a campaign more accountable. However, direct campaigns, while cost-effective in profit terms, tend to produce fewer business effects.”

Budget Setting. “Category share of voice, rather than budget size, most accurately predicts success, and therefore some view of likely competitive expenditure must be factored into budgeting.”

Communications Strategy. “Emotional approaches work particularly well for premium brands as a way of justifying the price premium. Value brands require a more mixed approach.”

Media Strategy. “If longer-term brand effects are an objective, as opposed to short term response, judge all media opportunities on their power to enhance the ability of communications to engage emotionally with consumers.”

Measurement. “Look for correlations between campaign effects and exposure to the campaign, not recall of it. In particular, showing that attitudes to a brand correlate positively with recall of its advertising does not prove that the advertising works (the ‘Rosser Reeves fallacy’).”

Payback and Remuneration. “Use NPV to measure the effectiveness of your campaign in financial terms.”

Each section ends with a list of “golden rules” to guide decision making in each area. These lists are helpful reminders, or perhaps even checklists, for marketing strategists as they build campaigns.

Perhaps the most impressive things about this book is the data itself. This is a welcome relief from most marketing texts. For all the talk of being data-driven, marketing books and articles tend to rely on a few hand-picked case studies, and broad generalizations built on faulty evidence. In contrast, Binet and Fields use skeptical eyes and a broad collection of data to make their case.

Why is it essential reading?

This book is on the Plannerzone reading list because it makes a strong case for creative, emotional marketing communications, and demonstrates how these campaigns lead to more profitable marketing. In the process they dismantle some common marketing myths, and provide helpful checklists for strategists.

For more insights on these topics, check out this study by Binet and Field from the journal of advertising research. The book is available for purchase on WARC.

Be on the lookout for a new book next month!