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The route to purchase

Without a consumer there is no shopper. Defining the route to purchase strategy starts with a consumption need state and building a coherent shopper activation throughout the different touchpoints until a shopper becomes a buyer and uses the products and services.

The majority of the shopper marketing effort lies in the process leading up to the conversion of shopper to buyer. Consumption need states are the starting point of shopper marketing programs. Shoppers seek solutions to future intended consumption occasions. Consumption need states describe the basic need, the occasion of usage, the motivation for specific solutions, and thereby the potential alternatives available to shoppers. They define the competitive playing field and the competitive position, as well as the opportunities for solutions within adjacent and complementary categories, products and services. Consumption need states are the basis for competitive strategies within the field of shopper marketing. Shopper attitudes are key to explaining shopper behavior and are the basis for activation strategies. The involvement, the importance of the purchase, the level of planning, the intent to purchase, shopping missions, the reason to purchase and the attributes looked for at points of purchase are the key pillars that define activation strategies. The shopper journey, the path from consumption need states to conversion and usage has become more iterative and non-linear with more touchpoints, often outside the direct control of manufacturers. Understanding the role, importance and interaction between touchpoints is key to prioritizing the activation to best convert shoppers into buyers and maximize the return on the shopper marketing investment.

Consumption need states as catalysts of shopper behavior

Without the consumer, there is no shopper. Consumers consume at consumption occasions. To fillfill the needs of a specific consumption occasion the most suitable products and services need to be planned for, encountered and purchased. Shoppers purchase to solve the needs of intended future consumption at specific occasions. In that sense a shopper does not primarily look for a specific brand, product and service, but for a solution along specific criteria for an intended consumption occasion. It can be a practical solution, such as to satisfy hunger, thirst or transport, or it can be solutions to satisfy more intangible needs, such as transferring signs of status or identity. In these cases the product, service and brand can play a more important role in the hierarchy of solutions. Marx already spoke of products as fetishes, in which the basic need is not the focus, but how the brand, product and service creates a need that otherwise did not exist.1 In that setting the brand has a key role. Marketing has either to understand the needs of consumers, or create or adapt needs to create demand. This is referred to as latent needs. The role of shopper marketing is less in developing, adapting or creating latent needs. Consumer needs and the associated consumption occasions are the starting point for shopper marketing. Consumption need states can be understood as the combination of the needs of consumers combined with the motivation to select specific solutions. Understanding these in combination with understanding attitudes and the shopper journey is the basis to develop the route to purchase strategy.

The consumption need states describe the solution the shopper needs to look for, and the range of alternatives available, e.g. the range of products and services to meet the aforementioned needs. The definition of consumption need states helps in mapping and understanding the competitive position of a company, and how adequate its products and services are to meet the specific consumption need state targeted. This approach is consumption and solution oriented, rather than the more traditional category and product-oriented view of understanding the market. For example, the category of coffee or the drivers of consumption could be analyzed. Looking at the drivers of consumption, different consumption occasions are mapped with their corresponding consumption need states. One occasion could be breakfast, for which different solutions could be considered, e.g. tea, hot chocolate, juices. Together with the motivation behind selecting a solution and the occasion of the consumption, the consumption need states are defined. Consumption need states are the drivers for purchase, why shoppers btty.

Consumption need states are analyzed across three key areas, the needs, the solutions and the competition set in terms of brands, products and services. To delimit the consumption need states, normally the four dimensions of consumer needs, motivations, the occasion of usage and the potential solutions, i.e. brands, products and services, are evaluated.

Consumption need states

Figure 3.1 Consumption need states

Illustration of consumption need states based on occasions or situations of usage and the motivations for the selection of alcoholic beverages.

Source: Author

Motivation comes from the Latin word movere and describes the process, the direction and strength of an individual’s behavior in meeting his needs. The basic discussion in motivation has been between behaviorism, based on Skinner’s ideas,2 i.e. the reinforcement of behavior through operative conditioning, and its application in Bandura’s social learning theory3. One of the best-known theories is Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of the five basic needs (physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem, self-actualization), in which the satisfaction of one level of needs makes the individual move to satisfy the next level.4 Based on Maslow’s theory, Alderfer showed with his existence, relatedness, growth (ERG) theory that more than one level of needs could be operational at the same time.5 Herzberg showed with his work-related two-factor theory that there were hygiene factors, whose absence produce dissatisfactions, but do not motivate, and motivators that produce positive satisfaction.6 Related to the idea of different types of motivators McGregor developed the idea of the authoritarian theory X and the participative theory Y leadership styles. In theory X workers are not motivated and need to be controlled, while under theory Y workers are motivated to achieve. Successful leadership should strive for the latter approach.7 Steven Reiss divided motivation into intrinsic, where individuals are motivated by the task or potential rewards, and extrinsic motivation, where individuals are motivated by compensation or by avoiding sanctions.8 Other work-related theories include goal-setting theories,9 in which the goals themselves are part of the motivation process, or equity theory', in which individuals seek a balance between effort and reward.10 McClelland, based on Henry Murray’s11 personality theory, showed that there are three types of motivators, which are a result of culture and personality: achievement, affiliation and power. To McClelland the interaction of these three motivators correlate with the development of society.12 Vroom does not see behavior as solely driven by needs but. dependent on the expected outcome, alternative ways to act are evaluated.13

Many of the theories have been developed for the workplace and are centered on how to motivate people in organizations to improve performance. Nevertheless, they can also be usefill for shopper marketing. Purchases are made to find the best solution to satisfy consumption needs. To best meet these needs, the motivations that drive the preferred solution to a specific need have to be understood. The idea of different levels and types of need helps to better understand the behavior of consumers and shoppers. A product and service can satisfy basic needs, e.g. hunger or thirst, but to understand the preferences for specific brands, needs and motivators like togetherness, affiliation, recognition or self-fulfillment and status play an important role. A product and service can satisfy more than one level of needs at the same time and the selection of a specific alternative over another depends on the expected result in terms of best meeting the need.

Motivation as a concept of goal orientation Motivation as a process to move toward satisfying needs. Source

Figure 3.2 Motivation as a concept of goal orientation Motivation as a process to move toward satisfying needs. Source: Author

In order to fully map the consumption need state we have to understand not only needs and motivations, but also the situation, the occasion in which the product and service will be used. The usage situation, also denominated the occasion, is a way to segment consumers on their real usage behavior. The idea is that this behavior best explains the consumer needs that ultimately are to be satisfied by the shopper.14 Unlike other consumer-oriented segmentation methods a consumer can belong to several segments depending on the situation in usage-driven segmentations. This gives the consumer a multidimensional rather than mono-dimensional profile typical of more classical segmentations in where each consumer is assigned to one segment. Incorporating situational influences on behavior is based on the field theoiy according to which behavior can only be understood in relation to its environment.15 Different studies show that situation-based segmentations better predict consumer behavior than profile-based segmentations.16 Additionally, an understanding of the combination of a consumer description and usage situation produces better insights into product and service selection.” A good shopper understanding is therefore dependent on a good understanding of the occasions of consumption, or the situation of usage.18 The intended consumption occasion, together with the motivations, influence the selection of brands, products and services.19 Through understanding the consumption occasions and motivations, the preference for brands, products and services can be understood, and thereby the purchase process from the identification of a need to the purchase can be analyzed.20 This approach helps to categorize and link consumers and products and services for the intended situation of usage, i.e. consumption occasion.21 Segmentation by consumption occasions has proven to be fruitful and relevant for brand positioning and advertising strategies.22 The intended consumption occasion not only predicts the brands, products and services preferred, but it also gives insights into why specific solutions are preferred.23

In combination with the motivators of purchase the consumption occasions give a good insight into the drivers of the purchase, e.g. the why, for whom and when. Each purchase

Correspondence map for diapers (occasions, motivations and type of solution) Illustration of diaper purchase drivers in Scandinavia and possible solutions

Figure 3.3 Correspondence map for diapers (occasions, motivations and type of solution) Illustration of diaper purchase drivers in Scandinavia and possible solutions.

Source: Author

The route to purchase 43 driver has its appropriate solution in terms of products and services. For example, in the case of soft drinks, a large bottle would be more suitable for an occasion at home with friends. On the other hand, for immediate consumption occasions, e.g. on a hot day, a small, refrigerated bottle would be more suitable as a solution.

Understanding the purchase drivers and the possible solutions is the basis to develop the consumption need states map, and how to activate the same. The occasions define what type of solution is sought and the motivations why, and on that basis, an activation strategy can be designed in terms of solution and message.

The analysis of the consumption need states is not only the starting point to understanding the shopper. It also represents the shopper view in terms of the adequacy of the offer as well as the opportunities to expand the offer vs. other categories and manufacturers. For example, to evaluate the opportunities for expanding the market of current usage, similar occasions and motivations of other categories can be analyzed. Thus, a brand in the beer category could enlarge its playing field outside the beer category, and could enter into competition in categories covering similar motivations and occasions.

Thus, competition is no longer defined by the product, service or category, but rather by the needs that the product and service satisfy. This view enlarges the competitive setting and opportunities for the manufacturer. A market is ultimately defined by the needs of consumers and the willingness of shoppers to buy products and services to satisfy those needs. A classic example is the typewriters and the need to manage texts as efficiently as possible. Handwritten texts are time-consuming and difficult to copy. An important aid was the development of typewriters, which were initially mechanical. Building typewriters was a mechanical craft. A very successfill company in that category was the Swedish company Facit, which expanded successfully internationally with an aggressive marketing strategy in the 1960s and early 1970s. The focus was on mechanical typewriters, which was the heart of the company. In the 1970s the first electronic typewriters were introduced, which were more efficient and could manage texts better and within just a few years, their pricing became competitive as well. This was the beginning of the digital era, when companies like IBM began to develop computers that eventually would replace other text management tools. Facit’s focus on the product and not on understanding the users’ needs, which was not a product, but a solution, ultimately led to the company’s bankruptcy.24 Clearly, this was not only due to misinterpreting needs, but also a poor understanding of technological change.

A company can redefine the playing field, such as in the soft drink category', where leaders like Coca-Cola look at criteria like share of throat. This indicator includes all beverages consumed, including non-commercial beverages, to understand the total potential market. Within this total potential market, the growth objectives are set for within and outside the cunent product category'.

The telecommunications industry occasionally adopts an approach to understanding the daily behavior of residential and business users in order to analyze needs for which telecommunications services can be developed. In a mixture of technical possibilities and user needs new offers are developed. Initially', cell phones were used primarily for calls and SMS. Today, they' are mainly' used for chatting, social networks, entertainment and information, anytime and anywhere.

Consumption need states map out the needs, motivations and potential solutions for consumers and initiates the process of shopping. It is the basis to understanding what type of offer should be directed toward which consumption need state, the attractiveness of that consumption need state, the competitive position and how it should be activated along the shopper journey to convert the shopper into a buyer.

Consumption need state mapping

Figure 3.4 Consumption need state mapping

Illustration of a consumer need state mapping for the category of diapers in Scandinavia based on occasions, motivations and products.

Source: Author

 
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