How does your Swiss Made watch end up in the hands of consumers? What is the best channel to connect luxury customers with the products you have to offer? What are the steps along the way the customer takes to get there?
The Customer Journey, also known as the Path to Purchase, refers to the series of channels and steps a luxury customer use and are exposed to that enables them to finally purchase your luxury product. The Path to Purchase can be complicated in this day and age, but the basic elements remain the same. Everyone looks for inspiration for something to buy, performs some kind of research to narrow down the best option, chooses a place and time to make the purchase.
The tried and true method for commerce, utilizing the most familiar methods of sales inspiration remains the physical retail location. Over a quarter of shoppers find their inspiration in the retail storefront. Even in places like the UK and US, where ecommerce is thriving, in-store browsing remains popular, even defying the global average of 27%. UK shoppers find inspiration in stores at the rate of 32% and 28% of US shoppers are motivated to make a purchase in-store. The data shows that almost half of consumers, 48%, prefer to shop with a brand that has a physical store. The real question remains, not whether a brand should have a physical location, but what kind. The shopping experience is key to entice the consumer. Is the store worth visiting?
Social media is the fastest growing approach for customer inspiration. It’s important to know that it is also dramatically divided by generation and demographic. Half of consumers aged 16-24 look for inspiration on social media and has is largest audience amoung women. When you study the over 55 age range, the percentage drops to only 12 percent. A cross all age group 37% Women visit social media for inspiration, while men are about 25%.
A similar number of consumers are going directly to the Brand website to find inspiration. When associated with a direct-to-consumer solution, Luxury Brands can deliver a rich and emotional experience that entices, informs and appeals. Beautiful images and video can lean the customer to consider a purchase. In contast, marketplaces lack the emotional aspect. Big retailers like Amazon, Target, and Walmart are provide, a functional, transactional and cold experience.
The majority of shoppers, including Luxury Shoppers, use a search engine, like Google, when looking for new inspiration, ideas and trends. This digital channel provides the greatest appeal to 58% of individuals 45 years and older demographic. While still very important to younger age groups, the rate of usage drops more and more as you go backwards. Once you reach the 16-24 age group, only 36% of shoppers report using search engines. What was once believed to be the ironclad best method for inspiration is now changing.
Research suggests that digital dominates when it comes to the inspirational phase of the path to purchase. A digital strategy is the most useful, but brands should be sure to utilize multiple channels.
Locking down a clear search engine visibility is vital, and when combined with a strong social media presence will drive customers to an emotionally rich brand website. This solid foundation will lead the way to the next two phases along the path, name the research and purchase phases.