The traditional approach to consumer buying decisions rests on a liner model where in consumer starts with a brand, then reduce those choices through more knowledge about each brand superimposed by the weighing of various options and means and finally make their purchase decision after evaluating those brands. The marketing efforts of the brands aimed at influencing each of the process or funnel stages through various advertisement messages and with each step bring the audience to weigh the brand more favorably than the other on various criteria.
The traditional marketing Goal Remains same: Influence consumer at decision making stages
This will be true for all times. Though the landscape itself is changing making the linear model of consumer purchase cycle distorted which can be ascribed most importantly to the information flow that transcends the traditional marketing cycle as well as the immense alternatives brought about by the online medium.
Consumer Driven Purchase rather than Push marketing by Brands
It is the consumers now that are seeking the data proactively, and not always the data that brands wish to disseminate. Thus, it is leading to a process wherein informed consumers are getting evaluation reviews from friends, family members, user interest groups and online videos and multifarious of channels. Thus, the consumer not only has some starting brands in mind but some expectations clearly laid out which may lead to brand shift if they do not get them when actual shopping decisions are made. The key take away is that the consumers are interacting with the brands much later in the purchase cycle than they did in the past and with loads of data that influence their actual buying decisions.
Searchability of a business
Another important disruption is the proliferation of different mediums through which a consumer actually confronts a product and evaluated it before making a actual buying decisions. Now big brands are overtly pressed for increasing their online footprints as the medium is seem to be great equalizer with ever new smaller players gaining visibility with right kind of online strategy and creativity. This impacts the evaluation process on two counts. Fist, there are greater availability of data that is important for consumer evaluation process. Second, it also impacts the loyalty process thereby reducing the reminiscence and brand stickiness. The most important factor that is going to impact the traditional consumer buying cycle is evolution of the online medium to influence searchability through personalized search, location based targeting and user cycle historical data that may lead to last level influence on the consumer buying decision. Thus, while earlier, the consumer visited a store with some brands in mind, location based search may actually influence the decision in favor of a new one rather that the one with which the consumer originally started with. This has also led to the widely held conclusion on the part of marketer that there should be more focused towards consumer driven marketing and in consumer lifecycle investments. In many cases as much as 50% of the actual sales in some form passes though the online medium ( May Be though organic search, Paid search, reviews, Social Media) in one form or other.
Roles have changed
Earlier each stage of the buying cycle were influenced by the advertisers for pushing the consumer to enhance the brands attractiveness that ultimately leads to an actual purchase. But online information and media has changed that completely. Now the consumer comes with loads of reviews and data and his/her evaluation with various brands may not be for the actual buying decision but to justify the decision they have already made. In a way now marketing also incorporates efforts wean the consumers from the competitors. Now the CRM needs to be fully integrated with social, personalized data as well as engagement history data.