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Jayanth Narasimha & Prashant Saxena

Savvy and hard-to-please Singaporean consumers – mapping their omni-channel journeys is simply not enough

BY JAYANTH NARASIMHA & PRASHANT SAXENA

Minister for Trade and Industry, S Iswaran, recently spoke on how retailers need to start thinking of omni-channels (including online sales and mobile applications) to stay relevant. The success of Honest Bee, Carousell, Zalora, and RedMart (bought over by Lazada) only proves e-commerce works really well in Southeast Asia.

Last month, Unilever's Global Vice President of Customer Development, Badri Narayanan, said, "From an omni-channel perspective, you need to realise that a consumer doing research offline can end up buying it online. He can research online (but) end up buying it offline. Or he could do both online and offline." Understanding omni-channel consumer journeys has become imperative for marketing decision-makers.

Different consumers interact with online and offline touch-points differently. This is largely dependent on their key motivations. Looking for maximising bang for the buck while planning a vacation, exploring new scotch blends, or just rushing to a nearby store to get ingredients for tomorrow's breakfast – consumers come in from contexts.

Smart combination of qualitative and quantitative research layered with macro trend analysis and analytics helps map out context-based journeys of target consumer personas. As brand stakeholders attempt to map their consumers' path to purchase and fulfillment, there are many issues that need to be addressed along the way –

  • Consumer journey maps lack actionability from touch-point perspective: Consumer journey maps need to be explained to media agency, planning and content partners for actionability purposes. A typical map contains a whole lot of touch-points – all seemingly important in a consumer journey. These maps need to go beyond and prioritise the touch-points at each journey stage to answer `so what' and ‘now what'.
  • Lacking focus on the message at different stages: Marshall McLuhan's ‘medium is the message' reminds us on how various touchpoints embed themselves in any message they convey. They influence how the message is perceived by consumers. Heavily polarised focus on mapping the consumer takes away the concentration on messages at different stages and touch-points of the journey.
  • Outdated consumer mission definitions and unidirectional paths to purchase: Consumer journeys are no more contained within single missions. Shopping has become more fragmented and there are many micro journeys within a purchase cycle.

To overcome these challenges, we need to keep touch-points and channels at the heart of the consumer journey understanding. Insights should give marketers the power to INFLUENCE consumer journeys, not just understand them.

For a brand to win through influence, it needs to connect and accelerate consumers through stages in the journey via right touch-points and channel strategy. The brand needs to light up the most optimum pathway for consumers and the touch-points have to propel the consumers in the right direction.

One can also reduce time through enabling a series of ‘micro interactions' that move the consumer towards your brand. Remember the quick compliment from store staff saying the shirt fits you perfectly? You bought that shirt, didn't you? Minor triggers sometimes purely based on impulse or emotion can get converted into a path of purchase faster than a logical, painstaking research and weighing of options.

Creating influence in consumer journeys starts with getting closer to your brand targets
Singapore is not an easy market. Savvy consumers are exposed to a plethora of touch-points and channels. They are well informed and hard to please.

Therefore, co-opting with consumers and tracking their behavior in a holistic manner is the first step towards creating influence. Technology can be a consumer researcher's best friend. We can leverage customised mobile applications and social media to track micro moments to understand the broader contexts, triggers, and touch-points that influence choice and decisions.

Secondly, it is important to meticulously evaluate the performance of each touch-point in propelling the consumers towards your brand. Again here, we can apply principles of user experience testing to sharpen each (relevant) touch-point with right message at right stage.

Ultimately, the goal is to create brand-accelerated consumer journeys that are –

  • Lit up paths which induce best acceleration towards your brand
  • Prioritised with singled out touch-points which guide your consumers in this accelerated path
  • Identified winning messages sent by selected touch-points
  • Sensitised to micro journeys, shopping in spurts, and micro moments to capture the dynamism.

The views expressed in this column are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect this publication's view, and this article is not edited by Singapore Business Review. The author was not remunerated for this article.

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Jayanth Narasimha & Prashant Saxena

Jayanth Narasimha & Prashant Saxena

Jayanth has nearly 10 years of experience in consumer research, largely in Qualitative. He heads Singapore Business for Brandscapes Worldwide Consultancy. Prashant is a Business Director at Brandscapes Worldwide Consultancy. He has been selected by the European Association of Consumer Research as one of their top 30 marketing researchers.

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