Follow the path to purchase

Jonathan Dodd

Shoppers now make myriad detours on their buying journey. Mapping how the consumer can be influenced at each juncture is critical

The path to purchase has played a central role in shopper marketing's evolution over the past decade, from tactical activity to strategic discipline. But as useful as various path to purchase models have been at framing strategic discussions, fundamental changes in the marketing landscape are forcing a re-examination of the concept.

Most path to purchase models track the sequential steps that lead a shopper from initial need prompt to ultimate purchase. Whether in the form of a line, a funnel or a cycle, most lend a sense of visual order to the shopping process to help guide strategy development and programme creation. That sense of order, however, is becoming a liability for these tried-and-true marketing tools. As the shopping experience grows more complex, fluid, and digital, the path from need to purchase is rarely a straight line.