NEW DELHI: The shopper journey in India is becoming increasingly complex as digital media multiplies the volume of information and number of touchpoints available and renders traditional media planning techniques obsolete.

A report from media agency Percept Media – All India Shopper Research – polled 2,673 respondents in eight Indian cities (Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Ahmedabad, Lucknow, Chandigarh and Ranchi) across 15 categories and concluded the traditional linear brand funnel was losing relevance.

Digital media is now an essential part of the media, Campaign India reported, since it increases the reach of the brand and reinforces brand communications in offline media.

But, said Shripad Kulkarni, CEO, Percept Media, "the shopper journey for each category is distinct and therefore has its own set of marcom planning challenges".

"Understanding the relevance of various media touchpoints during the shopper journey for the category will help a marketer develop the communication approach which leads to optimum performance of each media used," he added.

The report highlighted three shopping stages which it defined as pre-shopping, active shopping and post-shopping, in each of which the consumer typically has a different mindset, thus rendering the various touchpoints more or less relevant.

In the pre-shopping stage, consumers are carrying out general research and planning, while in the active phase this gets more detailed, with ads noticed, the advice of friends and family sought ads and sorties made in-store.

Percept Media suggested that brands communications generally tended to be forgotten but could be recalled once consumers were in active shopping mode. At this stage a good brand impression could dictate the final purchase.

Marketers therefore have to not only build brand equity but understand the role that various media play within each category at each stage of the consumer journey.

Television, for example, continues to be significant but the extent of that can depend on the category. It is more important in the pre-shopping stage for electronic household appliances and holidays, but most relevant in the active shopping stage when consumers are considering cars or cosmetics.

Digital becomes more prominent for consumers actively shopping for electronic household appliances, with the report finding that around 20% of respondents explored this channel when buying.

The report further noted that some brands are now starting to implement a digital-led strategy, with all communication converging on a brand's website or microsite.

Data sourced from Campaign India; additional content by Warc staff