At The ExperienceBuilt Group and MMR Research Associates, we’re all about conducting research with the right context. The more context we have, the better our output. In a recent Journey Mapping project, we leveraged mixed-method research to define the context of the research question and conduct a deeper exploration of our hypothesis. Through quantitative and experience research, we were able to more accurately define the buying journey and identify opportunities in the marketplace.
There are a number of ways we can implement mixed-method research. The simplest approach is to open the front half of a project with experience discovery that will inform the approach and topics for inclusion of the quantitative back half. We can also flip the script and lead with quantitative research in the front half and experience research in the back half. This approach adds dimension and layers to our experience research results, which in turn provide deeper insights. We can also use an iterative, “donut” approach, wherein we expand our research based on the results uncovered earlier in the project by adding a third phase.
Let’s dive into the approach we took with our recent Journey Mapping project. A leading manufacturer of outdoor appliances worked with EBG and MMR to:
Understand how consumer segments experience the buying journey via Experience Research.
Identify the moments or touchpoints consumers are most open to influence via Quantitative Research.
Identify the marketing activities that provide the most value in consumers’ decision to purchase or repurchase via quant and contextualize them via Experience Research
Identifying Buyer Journey Framework and Buyer Groups
EBG leveraged experience research to identify the buyer journey framework. We conducted diary-aided interviews, virtual shop-alongs, and follow-up experience interviews throughout participants buying journeys to understand their motivations, habits, and preferences. We analyzed the results and applied a common retail journey framework: Triggers, Shopping, Purchase, and Post-Purchase.
These insights would inform the quantitative study and were captured to inform strategy in an interactive platform. We mapped this framework using Miro, an online whiteboard. Better than a static PowerPoint, this board serves as a living document where internal team members and strategic partners can collaborate to guide strategy sessions, brainstorm new approaches to the buyer journey framework, and galvanize product teams.
Beyond the buyer journey framework, our Client wanted to know their customers at a more intimate level. So we set out to define buyer groups based on what motivates them to purchase and ultimately identified four specific persona.
Prioritizing Touch Points through Quantification
MMR took the experience research findings as a guide for the quantitative survey development. An online survey was conducted using a MaxDiff analysis to identify attributes considered during purchase and a tournament analysis to understand purchase decision drivers. The framework and buyer groups were baked into the study to add dimension to the findings in order to understand the shopper experience of each stage and identify ways to influence purchase decisions throughout the buyer journey.
What we uncovered…
We value our Client’s confidentiality. They come to us for a competitive edge, so please note that the data and insights below are examples based on the project.
The frameworks below are generalized. When we do this for our clients, we focus on the nuances of their industry, custom-tailoring our approaches to meet their needs. Our years of experience helped us build journey frameworks to serve as a starting point, but they’re not prescriptive or set in stone. We take a flexible, personalized approach to every project and meet our clients where they’re at. Here’s what we found.
Retail Journey Phase: Trigger
Before shopping occurs, many sources of influence help define target consumers’ shopping missions. These sources include family recommendations, what their friends use, social media influencers, the “latest” product models, and assistance from store associates.
Shiny Object Buyers made up the biggest percentage of buyers – 52% – and were the most common shopper type among our Client’s ‘latest model’ product offering.
In The Moment Buyers made up 27%, and are most responsible for our Client’s specialty product offering.
Researching Buyers made up 13%, and were most often purchasing our Client’s primary product offering.
Testimonial Seekers made up 8%.
Purchase triggers are often varied, but shoppers’ most common reason for purchase was having an old, worn-out product that they needed to replace or wanting a larger alternative.
Retail Journey Phase: Shopping
Next, shoppers enter the “Shopping” phase, in which they actively consider and research their purchase. We found that consumers generally think about buying the Client’s product for a little over six weeks before they start actively shopping and researching. Additionally, shoppers usually have three or four retail stores and brands in mind early in their shopping journeys – so getting into consideration early is key. Consumers’ pre-purchase knowledge is high, with 56% reporting as “knowledgeable” about their considerations, 39% neutral, and only 5% reporting as “not knowledgeable.”
This is the stage in which shoppers make their purchase decisions in advance, including product type, brand, store, method, and budget. Retail stores, Google, and YouTube are commonly used resources for Shopping decision-making, with online reviews playing a big role in final decisions.
When deciding whether to shop in-store or online, consumers experience pros and cons with both. Shoppers like being able to see the product in person, but online shopping allows easy price comparisons and a wider range of product choices, along with the ease of home delivery.
Once they decide to shop in-store or online, other factors influence which retail store or online channel consumers will use. When making this decision, shoppers might ask:
How many options are available in-store and online?
What are the prices like in-store and online?
What stores sell the product near me?
Retail Journey Phase: Purchase
In the Purchase phase, consumers finally choose the specific product they’re going to buy and the purchase channel they’ll use to buy it.
Once it’s decision-time, many factors influence the purchase. This provides opportunities for brands and stores to influence shoppers at this critical moment. When making the final purchase, shoppers can be positively influenced by factors like:
Helpful in-store displays
An assortment of brand accessories and parts offered
Added services like, offering assembly
Shoppers make multiple visits before purchase, both online and in-person. Some might need to research more if they saw new features to consider, while others might need to shop at other places if the store or site they went to didn’t carry what they were looking for, or they weren’t able to see it in person.
Retail Journey Phase: Post-Purchase
Post-purchase touch points achieve a number of goals: functional and tactical experience, inspiration, and education. Extending relationships with customers past their purchase helps build brand loyalty. There are three core touch points for customers in this phase: getting ready to use the product, using the product, and upscaling and maintaining their product.
After analyzing the results from each stage of the buyer journey, we found that there was an opportunity for the Client to increase post-purchase engagement.
Upon completion of the research, the EBG and MMR teams jointly analyzed the quantitative data through the lens of the experience research. We mapped the data to the buyer framework in the Miro whiteboard so Client decision-makers could clearly understand motivators and identify ways to influence purchase decisions. Through our research, our Client will develop plans that will increase market penetration, purchase frequency, and willingness. Now, our Client has the insights they need to close gaps to better influence shoppers, improve experiences, and strengthen their brand.