LONDON: The path to purchase has become an increasingly complex journey but marketers need to always remember to focus on analysing actual, rather than claimed, consumer behaviour, a new Warc Best Practice paper advises.

Written by Toni Keskinen, part of the Future CMO movement, How to optimise the path to purchase explores the decision-making process that consumers undergo in order to make a purchase, connecting and engaging with different options, before finally settling on a brand.

He identifies three broad, and very different, paths to purchase: from "habit/impulse", where no research is involved, through "pre-determined options", where consumers will conduct some research within an area they already know, to "learning new path" journeys, where they may have to immerse themselves in an unfamiliar area.

One approach to planning marketing activity across these consumer journeys is the REAN (Reach, Engage, Activate, Nurture) model, which, Keskinen says, helps define the key goals for any given situation.

For a category-leading brand, for example, the path to purchase may be mostly about making everything easy and convenient.

But if the brand is a challenger, "there is the burden of proof requiring the challenger to really present its case and prove it's a better choice than the ones dominating the market".

This is of course difficult but the example of eyewear retailer Warby Parker shows how it can be achieved.

The brand took a problem-solving approach by simplifying the traditional path to purchase and challenging the typical in-store experience: customers were sent five frames to try with a no-fee return.

This approach drove word of mouth and Warby Parker hit first year sales targets in three weeks, sold the top 15 styles in four weeks and accumulated a waiting list of 20,000 people.

"There is no end for optimisation," says Keskinen, "but solving the big and easy-to-fix challenges first will create a positive atmosphere and grant you mandate to change things that require more effort later."

Data sourced from Warc