It Starts With Understanding The Consumer Journey

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If our goal as marketers is to engage with the consumer at the most optimum time with the most relevant content to compel them to action, then the only way to succeed is to start by understanding the consumer journey.

The vast and intricate nature of the communications ecosystem used by today’s consumers — consisting of online, offline, mobile, out-of-home, word-of-mouth, and countless variations in between — renders the old marketing approach of “starting with the channel” fruitless. Instead, it’s critical to begin by identifying the unmet need of the consumer and the problem the brand can help solve.

Whether it’s a purchase-based journey or experiential journey, understanding people’s motivations and behaviors enables you to align your goals with those of your consumers to bring you both to a mutually rewarding end. But how can you discover those motivations and behaviors? To quote a well-known verse, search and you shall find.

Search has become a powerful way of connecting the dots of human behavior and serving as a catalyst in the joint consumer/brand journey by capturing key trigger points. Let’s take a subject that millions of people are passionate about — their coffee. At Carat, we conducted research for our client Folgers in key coffee drinker segments, using both proprietary methodologies and search techniques. The research showed that, among other characteristics, coffee drinkers drawn to the Folgers brand were by-and-large very optimistic individuals. Through our process, we uncovered a key unmet need during their “morning moment” — the news they were turning to was disproportionately negative, affecting their perception of life and brands. In the morning journey for these consumers, the natural tendency toward optimism and a preference for starting the day with some good news was not being met through traditional news channels.

Having identified this obstacle in our consumer’s journey, we asked, “what if we (Folgers) met that need for optimistic news?” We could see that search traffic was increasing for keywords related to good news, but the existing destinations connected to those keywords weren’t adequately fulfilling the need with any scale and consistency, and there were no big brands associated with those news outlets.

This led the Folgers team to create the news hub “Wake Up To Good News” in collaboration with Microsoft Advertising Networks and NBC. The hub aggregated positive news stories from the Microsoft and NBC news sources, as well as providing a unique, custom video news feature produced weekly. The hub site was accompanied by a holistic campaign that helped people find it through both organic and paid search, banner advertising, mobile, and integrated television programming in conjunction with NBC’s “The Today Show.” We extended the reach of the program by making it fully able to be syndicated and social, ensuring additional unpaid impressions via pass-along.

To date, “Wake Up To Good News” has yielded more than nine times the average monthly traffic of Folgers.com and over 30MM pass-alongs. In addition, the site helped drive critical brand metrics, such as increasing brand favorability by 20% and purchase intent by 16%.

Gaining insight into the consumer need, identifying the demand, and mapping the right channels with the right content to drive behavior, were the keys to success in the Folgers campaign, with search playing a central role. As in this case and others, the consumer and brand journeys became indistinguishable, and the goal achieved.

About the Author

Doug Ray is Executive Vice President at Carat and leads the media agency's communications planning practice, as well as its strategy and research units. Doug also oversees Procter & Gamble's Gillette, Pampers, Iams, Charmin, and Bounty brands, among others, as well as communications planning for the Smucker's brand portfolio.

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