Bang! One minute I was riding high and the next I was lying flat on my back, with a shattered elbow and a broken femur.
After 11 days in hospital, multiple drips, three surgeries and various pain killing options, I was released back into society.
And so my recovery began.
While still in hospital I bought a surfboard and, three days after discharge, I secured a two-man kayak – something I have wanted for quite some time. A few days after that, a brand new Black+Decker cordless drill, and due to my lack of post-surgery mobility, multiple Uber rides.
This really made me evaluate the consumer purchase journey scenario, something we at Carat have been interrogating in detail for quite some time. There are classic models to be followed and then there are some that don’t follow a very linear journey, but more a systematic and complex series of twists and turns.
Both are sound and work well when trying to identify possible brand touch-points and trying to predict movements. But my thoughts focused more on an issue we as a team had been looking at: Why are we even in the market in the first place? And how strange and unpredictable my consumer journey had been to final purchase!
Money in my pocket
I began to consider a new surfboard because I had some money in my pocket from selling my old iPhone. I then had a fall and was lying flat on my back in hospital trawling my newsfeed and saw one pop up. I made the decision then and there to buy it.
So, I entered the consideration phase because I had sold my old phone and then made a purchase in a haze of operations and stale aircon because, well, I thought it looked like a good buy. Relatively speaking, my consumer journey consisted of a rather brief consideration period and then a strange trigger, the hospital. The brand I had chosen, though, was one I had experienced before and trusted.
I’ve always wanted a kayak, but again my consideration journey was triggered by an interesting circumstance. A family tragedy and the sale of a boat put me into the consideration zone but still I didn’t make a purchase. You could say that my consideration went into hibernation. Only upon discharge from the hospital and a few conversations about the great outdoors while still bedridden did I start to look at options. And there it was. An awesome two-man kayak, a renewed consideration period of roughly 29 seconds and then, purchase!
Both my journeys were unpredictable and not necessarily what a classic consumer buyer behaviour model might have anticipated but still, two sales were made. Oh and the drill… well, I was just bored and had heard of Black+Decker before so, why not.
This made me challenge my thinking even more. Many journeys are influenced by very unpredictable factors and, of course, triggers to enter said journey and finalise it. The road to purchase can only truly be anticipated if we have the deepest understanding of the in-journey circumstances and the reasons for these journeys in the first place.
If we as marketers can understand why a consumer has entered the journey cycle in the first place, we have more chance of predicting behaviours that might lead to a final purchase trigger.
One way to look at it could be to ensure we have an ‘always on’ catch net, but this can be costly and to an extent, quite generic. The best option would be an integrated channel approach, an optimised ecosystem that is planned around a researched consumer journey but includes provision for unexpected triggers – not easy.
The exact journey and final trigger itself is as unpredictable as an 11-day stay in hospital, but through an intricate combination of qualitative and quantitative data, as well as creating bespoke research methodologies and creative consumer interactions that complement our audited data, we can get a good indication that will inform an approach. The perfect balance of this intricate formula helps bring unpredictable consumer thought processes to life – something we have been working on for quite some time.
I’m lying in bed writing this piece now while on what the doctor calls “light leave”. I need to head into the office though and I really want a coffee but can’t get to my local coffee haunt as my broken femur is only allowed to touch the ground in two weeks’ time – so driving is not an option. Hmmm, maybe I should get an Uber and I can stop at the coffee shop on the way?
I’m still not quite sure what I’m going to do with the drill though… perhaps I can use it to build a new arm rest.
And so my journey continues…
Graham Deneys is strategy director at Carat Cape Town / SSA
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