Tag Archives: Kelton global

Why You Should Revisit Your Shopper Journey (And How To Do It Right)

This post was
originally published on Kelton
Global’s blog
.

Understanding the consumer journey has always been (and
still is) a crucial piece to closing the gap between interest and purchase. But
while fundamental needs haven’t changed, the customer journey is much more
layered and multi-directional.
Today’s consumer doesn’t just follow one of a handful of
discrete routes in their journey to purchasing a good or service. With the
Internet at their fingertips, shoppers now bounce around the traditionally
linear path to purchase’easily jumping from an in-store touchpoint to a digital
platform in the snap of a finger, gathering information from multiple sources
throughout the process.
Consumers can now leverage the wisdom of the crowd to
educate themselves before ever setting foot in a store.

Keep these two major shifts in mind when deciding on
research strategy for your next customer engagement journey project:
Consumers are wildly
more empowered in their relationship with brands.

We don’t just live in the age of information. We live in the
age of informational guidance, with unprecedented access to (and
considerable depths of) knowledge about almost anything there is to know about.
This is especially true when it comes to products and brands. Consumers can now
leverage the wisdom of the crowd to educate themselves before ever setting foot
in a store. This presents a huge opportunity for brands to garner awareness
among consumers shopping for their products. At the same time, this also means
exponentially more touchpoints to maintain and track, as well as heightened
expectations of consistent brand experiences across platforms.
Just as every shopper is able to consume information via the
Internet, they are equally as empowered to publish their own thoughts, reviews,
and experiences en masse. An opinion that was once voiced to a handful of peers
can now be amplified 1,000 fold by way of direct input and feedback platforms.
Rapid customer service response has never been more important as a result.
While companies have lost a degree of control over their digital narrative
thanks to bloggers and product/service review sites, the new landscape is not
without its advantages. Adding a digital footprint to brand perceptions offers
a valuable opportunity to monitor and better understand perceptions of your
brand, and what sites consumers are visiting online.
Today’s world is
defined by options.

The market landscape has become significantly more
fragmented and competitive.
Today’s world is defined by options. Consumers now have a
tremendous amount of choice in what products to buy and brands to engage with
in order to serve a given need. The rapid increase in number of options for
shoppers to explore, coupled with more ways to access and consume products,
means that consumers expect a brand experience that fits seamlessly into their
lives (not vice versa). What’s more, people browsing online now have easier
access to information about your competitors’ even comparing their products and
yours side by side. It’s important to visually communicate this aspect of a
shopper journey in a way that is clear and concise, so that your internal team
can understand and activate on consumers’ actual paths.

It can be difficult to capture the complexities of today’s
typical path to purchase, because there’s
nothing ‘typical’ about it
. Keeping to the traditional research model for
path to purchase is no longer an option, because it doesn’t paint a complete
picture of the varied journeys a consumer may realistically take. But
abandoning the model entirely isn’t the solution, either. We believe in a
differentiated philosophy based on key shifts in the landscape, integrating
existing knowledge with newer techniques (like social listening) to give our
clients a complete and accurate picture of the customer journey.

Infusing Cultural Thinking Into Your Business Strategy

This post was originally
published on Kelton
Global’s blog
.

Understanding culture is crucial for any business that wants
to stick around long term. But culture is a challenging thing to grasp at the
organizational level because it’s big, amorphous, and ever-changing. To
co-opt an idea popularized by the philosopher Karl Popper, culture
operates more like a cloud than a clock: a swirling and
continuously evolving mass that can’t be accurately defined in a single
snapshot.
Businesses, on the other hand, have a comparatively ordered
structure. They tend to want to use clock-like approaches to tackle the cloudy
cultural challenges at hand. This yearning for measurement and simplicity comes
through in questions like:
When does a trend ‘officially’ become mainstream? If we decide to adopt this tone of voice or design, will
Millennials buy our products? What color signals ‘edgy’?
Many crucial aspects of business benefit from structure, but
this ordered approach won’t help businesses to solve their most pressing cultural
challenges. In the cloudy reality of cultural phenomena, linear cause and
effect and simple divisions of reality seldom exist outright.

Take, for instance, the ever-changing cultural dialogue
around masculinity. There are literally thousands of new images and messages
being shared every day ‘ some of which challenge the more traditional
assumptions, and some of which reinforce them. In the middle, brands like Target
are incorporating a softer, more fluid, set of cues in a traditional ‘patrizate-friendly’
way. In the world of consumer values and brand perceptions, far more of the
challenges that we face are ‘cloudy’ than we might imagine.
Grasping the deeper cultural dialogues around things like
masculinity, femininity, fun, beauty, style, and the like will be
impossible if you’re looking for machine-like predictability or linear cause
and effect. The best problem-solving approaches blend technical, linear
‘clockwork’ thinking with creative, lateral ‘dynamic’ thinking. While a
thorough initiative is best guided by a bona fide Cultural Insights researcher
(shameless plug), there are some things that an organization can do on its own
to infuse cultural thinking into the strategic mix:
1. Pay attention to
the fringe
If a competitive brand feels fresh and new in the category,
they’re likely tapping into something that we can learn from’ even if they’re
small in comparison. The fresh ideas in the category now are
often candidates for its future, especially in quickly-changing categories like
food and beverage, consumer tech, and retail. 15 years ago, how many of us
brushed off the idea of health(ish) fast food?
Action Step: Include ‘extreme’
consumers in your qualitative research, and look at the edgier elements within
your category, including crowdfunded ideas.
2. Use Cultural
Insights for early and exploratory initiatives
Use Cultural insights early on to challenge some of the
entrenched ideas around how your category or brand is working. Then, explore
these hypotheses in subsequent research. For example, if your brand refresh
involves looking at emergent ideas in beauty, use CI at the outset to
come up with a range of territories, and then use consumer insight and
co-creation work to nail the best iteration for your brand.
Action Step: Incorporate Semiotics and Trend Analysis
into your research mix at the outset, expanding the number of ideas in play.
3. Harness
‘Expectation Transfer’
Consumers grow accustomed to certain norms in one category,
and the expectations for these norms are slowly demanded of, and adopted into,
other categories. This phenomenon, known as Expectation Transfer, can
cause categories to disrupt not only their own verticals, but others that
feel ripe for reconsideration. Leverage expectation transfer for your brand by
staying extra observant of shifts in other verticals, and adopt them before
they become a standard to stay ahead of competitors.
Action Step: Widen your scope (in landscape analysis
& consumer research) to more than just your category. Try to intuit what
these brands have captured about the consumer, and incorporate that into your
plans.
4. Find natural
places to impact the conversation
In ways that are often hard to measure, brands have the
potential to influence the wider cultural dialogue just as much as they reflect
it. Don’t wait for a good idea to be fully entrenched in the
mainstream ‘ or your category ‘ before acting on it.
Action Step: Look to make public stances in ways that
bring your brand’s point of view & key equities to life, and be bold in
defending those views.
5. Use social
listening to inform hypotheses
The Internet itself is a highly organized system, but the human
activity that takes place on the Internet is much more of a churn.
Leverage powerful social intelligence platforms to make the cloud-like swarm
seem a little more clock-like.
Action Step: Set up a social listening dashboard
following key sentiments and influencers (but be sure to avoid the pitfall of
seeing it as a measurable stand-in for the complexities of the real cultural
world).
Culture operates more like a cloud than a clock: a
swirling and continuously evolving mass that can’t be accurately defined in a
single snapshot.

With so much to see, hear, and read, culture is
absolutely fascinating on both an organizational and personal level. By
simply reframing how they think about culture and using the available insight
tools in accordance with this new way of thinking, brands can get ahead of the
curve and fully understand where their consumer is headed.