LONDON: Brands need to understand buying behaviours in their particular category – and the role of signifiers such as quality, price and utility – in order to create effective marketing across the customer journey, according to two industry figures.

Writing in the current issue of Admap, Jonathan Dodd and Matt Robins, Global chief strategy officer and EMEA planning director respectively at Geometry Global, outline three behavioural typologies involved in most purchase decisions: guesswork, copying and research.

Each of these is most often seen in certain purchase categories, they say, an assertion supported by quantitative surveys of some 60,000 people across 38 unique categories conducted in the course of work assisting clients in creating and implementing omnichannel programmes.

The three typologies emerge when categories are mapped against the level of risk associated with the purchase decision and the level of involvement in the buying process.

Risk is important, they note, as it raises the possibility of shoppers making a bad choice.

“Research and copying friends is a low-risk strategy that overcomes this, as you will likely ‘buy well’ as a result. However, guesswork is used when the consequences of making a bad choice are low, as in highly commoditised categories where, for the majority of shoppers, brand provides little utility, like beer or shampoo.”

Time and interest are also factors. “If you have time and are interested in the outcomes of your decision, then you will do the research, as with consumer electronics, holidays or cars.

“If you have less time with a reluctant purchase (say, if your steam iron breaks one morning, or you need pain relief), then a recommendation will do.”

But a distress purchase, in an unfamiliar category, will rely on guesswork, using factors such as design, price or positioning as clues to the quality and/or utility of the proposed purchase.

A further factor to consider is the extent to which shoppers feel in control of the decisions they are making.

“Control is something gained by abdicating choice (copying) or educating oneself (research),” the authors say. And “sometimes control is revealed by the final sense of relief shoppers feel when a decision has been reached”.

Understanding these drivers, they argue, can help marketers address a range of issues, from packaging to owned media, reviews to the style of content.

“Recognising the general behavioural tendencies of any given category allows us to support and enable decision-making as well as conceive appropriate strategies for disruption and appropriate interruption along the journey,” they conclude.

Jonathan Dodd and Matt Robins will be presenting a WARC webinar on this subject on Thursday 28th September at 3pm BST/10am EDT. Readers can sign up here.

Data sourced from Admap