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How You Decide What To Buy Online

What's the Big Idea?

How do we go about buying and selling things on the Internet? The answer to this question is fundamental to the success of just about any business today. The answer also involves a simple, yet profound distinction from the way the customer decision process has been described by traditional marketing models. 

The traditional marketing concept known as the "funnel" is a linear process: a consumer is aware of a brand, gets more familiar with a brand and then makes a purchase. To take this model one step further, if a consumer is happy with a product they will repurchase it. The process is very reductive because customers start with many brands and reduce it all down to the one they're going to purchase. 

As David Edelman, Partner at McKinsey & Company, points out, the digital, mobile and social age has changed all of this. People now have the ability to learn "so much more about a category, find out about their options, find out about the facts," Edelman tells Big Think, that "the dynamic of somebody shopping is just different."

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What's the Significance?

The process Edelman describes isn't linear. It is a cycle. The "consumer decision journey," as he calls it, involves these main points:

-Customers are heavily influenced by past experiences, so one of the most important aspects of marketing is in the experience that your existing customers have.

-There are opportunities to get a customer's attention earlier, during the evaluation stage, which may not have been as possible before.

-Customer experience goes beyond the product itself. And the good news is that digital allows you to interact with people at an extremely low variable cost

And so, Edelman says, "digital gives you all these new ways to enhance and expand the experience of your brand." And Edelman sees these changes as a series of opportunities to engage potential customers not in a linear way, but "through a whole journey."

To learn more about branding in the digital age, read Edelman's article about the consumer decision journey at Harvard Business Review here

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

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