The ever changing customer journey

Knowledge is power and the need for knowledge of the traditional suppliers and manufacturers about the journey of the customer both online and offline is growing. Previously these two were not in contact with each other but this has changed. The competition for the Euro of the DIY consumer is on! All the large DIY chains have web shops and they are not afraid of investing in them. For example B&Q, this UK based DIY chain recently invested 60 million pounds in optimizing their web shop on the powerful domain DIY.com. But there are many more parties that should not be overlooked. Amazon.com for example also sells everything DIY related and in most countries there is a local player [link bol.com] doing the same thing. There are also the pure players that focus on a specific job or product group like for example the bathroom. There are examples of successful pure players that decide to put their concept to use in other areas of the house as well. Victoria Plum is such an example. The name already gives you a hint – they started off focusing on the bathroom, but nowadays they also offer products for the bedroom, living room and more. You can’t call these pure players anymore – they’re more like semi-pure players.blogbkCustomer journey researchWhen a client comes to us with research needs on the customer journey our first priority is always to really find out what the customer wants to know. In our sector this is mostly research on the so called touchpoints (channels) where to reach the customer. What are they using, why, on which moment and what do they expect from you? The challenge here of course is that there is no such thing as “the consumer” but a multitude of profiles with different backgrounds and characteristic. This is a very important part of customer journey research: segmentations. Our clients often find themselves in different phases when it comes to the segmentation process. When you know exactly who your target group is it makes it easier to map their touchpoints. When a client hasn’t developed their segmentations yet we first of all need to find out who they are exactly serving or want to serve a two step approach is the best option for that. First of all we will identify through qualitative research who the customers are. From here we extract research profiles that we then test with quantitative research. For our customers this type of research is always exciting and the results are always a spark for discussion in the board room. For us as consultants these routes are a very “thankful” process – we are always certain that our reports will be on top of the desk instead of catching dust somewhere in a drawer. blogbk2Wrong assumptions and surprisesCustomer journey research almost always presents surprising results. Of course, classical stereo types are confirmed, but we also learn new things. I recently talked to a 20-something year old young lady who was currently acting as the main contractor for the renovation of her newly purchased bungalow. She had to coordinate and boss around many different craftsmen that all came to conduct their part of the renovation. She told me it was a nerve wrecking experience having to make all kinds of decisions that she didn’t really have a clue about. You wouldn’t be surprised if I told you she felt a bit.. insecure. But did she get any help from a manufacturer or supplier? Either online or offline? No. I believe when a reliable party (like a supplier or manufacturer) presents itself to her as her partner during the renovation and advices her on what is right and what is wrong, she would definitely let that partner take care of the whole renovation instead of shopping around. The market is missing opportunities here, the young DIY’er is in many cases insecure and is looking for support. Another example of a surprising result is an older retired man I talked to, he was a very experienced DIY’er and would always go to the specialty stores or building material wholesaler for his projects. Nowadays he doesn’t go to the physical stores anymore but orders everything he needs online. He might have taken a sneak peak in the store first, but orders online afterwards – you’ve lost your client! The bottom line her consists of 2 things. On one hand the consumer knows everything of everything – or at least has the potential to do so. I would expect that they are well informed, if not you as a supplier have a job to do and a great opportunity to utilize. On the other hand is making assumptions when it comes to the customer journey a mistake. Who would have thought for example that the 65+ age group would be the most frequent users of the iPad? I don’t think Apple focused their marketing budget on them. But also the assumption that certain products will never be sold successfully online. Take tiles for example, you won’t buy them until you’ve seen them right? You can’t do that online, but what if a pure player enters the market that sends you samples of the tiles you are interested in over the mail? If that tile turns out to be bit cheaper than in the store it becomes very interesting for a lot of consumers to buy their tiles online! The last thing I want to share with you is the rise of Houzz. An online platform that connects inspiration, orientation and the actual possibility to purchase. Already huge in the USA and currently active in 12 other countries with many domains (including the .nl) already purchased. So keep an eye on this innovative player. All in all the market is evolving constantly. Many different players are trying to get the favor of the consumer, but there is no clear winner yet. Here at USP Marketing Consultancy we will keep track of all development and advice our clients on where their target group is, what they are looking for and how they want to be surprised by the suppliers. Dit artikel in het Nederlands? Klik hier.