Are Your Manufacturers Giving You State-of-the-Art Research?
As a retailer, you expect your manufacturing partners to support category growth with customer research. But are you getting the insights that matter most?
Path-to-purchase (P2P) analytics is gaining traction as a research approach that represents a huge leap forward in understanding and charting today’s complex shopper journeys. P2P recognizes the omnichannel world for what it is, and understands that the consumer is always shopping — on social media, in-store, on their phones — and that he or she is constantly subjected to media that tries to influence their buying decisions. Think of it as a “shopper-led” approach that combines motivation and analytics to understand the influence of every touchpoint, online and offline, on the same scale. Its outputs provide actionable insight into how to progress and convert shoppers along the omnichannel path to purchase.
While P2P analytics has been developed with multinational consumer packaged goods (CPG) companies and other manufacturers, the benefits can accrue to retailers through the sharing of superior behavioral insights and market intelligence. Take, for example, the person who researches a product online and through social media, comes into a store to check out the physical product, leaves without buying, then completes the purchase on Amazon.com, a very common experience for every retailer. With P2P, you (or your marketing partners) can chart that journey each step of the way. Through online and offline research, you can understand not just what that shopper did, but the crucial question of why he or she did it.
Knowing the why introduces a whole new dimension into your marketing strategy. Was the failure to complete the purchase an issue of cost? Of poor signage? Would a special offer at a particular inflection point change that consumer’s behavior? These are the kinds of questions that are answered through P2P analytics.
A real-life example involved a global food and beverage CPG looking to identify new opportunities to influence shoppers, and to understand the importance of pre-shop in changing shopper mind-sets. The question the CPG company wanted to answer was: Where and how are shoppers most open to influence on their path to purchase, and what are the impacts of various tactics on brand equity? Here's what it discovered using P2P analytics:
- In-store influence: Even in a highly planned category, over 30 percent of shoppers can be influenced in-store.
- Importance of online pre-shop: In a market with 6 percent online sales, up to 40 percent of purchases are researched in advance (50 percent researched online).
- Shopper attitudinal segments: The same shopper will have different attitudes and needs depending on the consumption/usage occasion they have in mind when buying.
These insights allowed the company to fine-tune its marketing programs, optimize each touchpoint, and implement growth strategies with retail partners.
Of course there are a number of other research tools in use now, but none provide the kind of omnichannel insights available with P2P. Marketing mix modeling is useful, but it’s backward looking, evaluating past performance. P2P builds its dataset from activities that happened today. Digital attribution adds granularity on digital touchpoints, but ignores the nondigital. P2P analytics measure the entire journey. Unified measurement blends elements of the first two, but has its weaknesses as well — e.g., it doesn't fully capture the consumer journey. P2P uses a similar holistic approach, but adds a dynamic shopper-centric view.
The use of P2P analytics is growing fast among manufacturers, and with some retailers, too. If your manufacturers aren't giving you the kind of insights available through P2P analytics, it might be time to ask them why not.
Matt Nitzberg is head of global commercial development at Nepa, a leading consumer science company offering customer experience and marketing optimization solutions.