In previous posts, we have stressed the importance of bringing effective marketing into our industry. We would like to share with you some useful insights regarding this topic in our first two posts of this month. This week, we will take a look at the changing approaches that are shaping marketing strategies nowadays.
In order to discuss this, we are using as a reference document an article from the McKinsey & Company website entitled Winning the consumer decision journey, a very interesting piece based on significant quality research and written by David Court, Dave Elzinga, Susan Mulder, and Ole Jørgen Vetvik.
The Traditional Purchase Funnel
Generally speaking, marketing has always targeted those moments (touch points) when consumers are open to influence. These touch points have been usually explained through a funnel-like model: Customers arrive with many brands in mind (the wide end of the funnel) and marketing persuade them to select a specific brand.
From the wide end to the narrow end, the purchase funnel is defined by a linear process that involves the following stages: Awareness, familiarity, consideration, purchase and loyalty. As a general practice, “marketers have been taught to “push” marketing toward consumers at each stage of the funnel process to influence their behavior.”
The advantage of this model is that marketers can understand the strength of the brand at the different levels of the funnel. In this way, they can identify bottlenecks and focus on those aspects that require attention.
Such an approach has defined marketing strategies for years. However, things are different now. According to the McKinsey article, the funnel fails to capture all the touch points “resulting from the explosion of product choices and digital channels, coupled with the emergence of an increasingly discerning, well-informed consumer.”
Consumer Decision Journey
In order to deal with the complexity that surrounds people’s decisions nowadays, new marketing models have been taken into consideration. One of them is the Consumer Decision Journey (CDJ), a circular strategy defined by the following four stages: Consideration, evaluation, purchase and experience. In this model, the interest trigger (consideration) is directly connected with the decision trigger (purchase) through the potential commitment the consumer has established with a particular brand.
The advantage of the CDJ model relies on the way it acknowledges the current environment in which customers acquire their products and services. For instance, brand consideration has expanded during the active-evaluation phase of the product. “Brands already under consideration can no longer take the status for granted.”
Likewise, consumers are not longer passive recipients of information. In fact, during the active-evaluation phase of a product things like Internet reviews and word-of-mouth matter a lot. Although traditional marketing is still effective, marketers need to be able to influence these increasingly vital consumer-driven touch points.
Another interesting observation from the qualitative research exposed by the McKinsey article is the vital role that post-purchase experience plays in generating loyalty among customers. For instance, “more than 60 percent of consumers of facial skin care products, for example, go online to conduct further research after the purchase—a touch point unimaginable when the funnel was conceived.”
Along those lines, companies need to treat loyalty in a different way. Some of the most successful marketing strategies, for example, have been giving “costumers reasons to leave, not excuses to stay” with a particular brand. Because of this, increasing the base of advocates in favour of your business has become a priority of modern marketing.
The Need for A Comprehensive Approach
As we have previously seen, the traditional funnel model is not longer as effective as it used to be. Companies, including those in the spa industry, need to adopt marketing strategies that are capable of understanding the current journey customers go through before they purchase services and products.
In a recent post on LinkedIn, David Edelman, a McKinsey digital marketing strategist, argued that the “funnel is dead, because it is outdated.” At Spa Balance, we strongly agree with that powerful statement. In our complex world, our industry needs to embrace a marketing strategy that is comprehensive and takes into consideration all the variables that may persuade customers to use our services.
We believe, the CDJ model offers the most effective marketing guide today. By focusing on the most important aspects of the journey customers take when they enter the decision process (consideration, evaluation, purchase, post-purchase and advocate), spas and wellness centres will be able to allocate money on the right place and improve their understanding of their customers and competitors, which ultimately will allow our industry to size business opportunities in a more effective way. Next week, we will discuss in more detail the advantages the CDJ model offers to our industry.