For example, two thirds of people who embark on a journey to buy a new car are choosing between two brands, with 31% of potential car buyers having only one brand in mind at the start of their quest. Of these people with one car brand in mind, brand preference is so strong that 7/10 do not even look to test drive another brand.
It’s important to highlight here that there are different types of consumer journey, with different dynamics. In this instance, we have categorised journeys by length:
Short new: an everyday purchase such as grocery retail, where people already buy the product or visit the shop, and the goal is to maintain current penetration levels and encourage greater frequency
Short normal: an everyday purchase, where the goal is to disrupt people’s current purchase patterns and get them to buy either a new brand or to visit a new shop
Medium: A less regular purchase, where the purchase cycle is likely to be every 1-2 years e.g. mobile phone handset
Long: Where the purchase cycle is measured in years, likely to be 5+ e.g. car
This is relevant when acknowledging that the consumer journey is more about eliminating risk and making a “good enough” decision, than it is about making the perfect choice.
Essentially, the journey is all about reducing worry and the dynamics of journey length come into play here. Particularly when it comes to longer journeys, the worry about making a mistake can be overwhelming to begin with. At the start of a buying journey people are anxious about making a mistake. Confidence only seems to rise towards the end of the decision-making process, at the penultimate stage, when it begins to overtake the worried state of mind.
Going back to the scenario of purchasing a new car, it seems that brand preference provides more confidence. People who have one brand in mind before they start the journey towards a car purchase are less worried at the start of their journey (39% compared with people who have no brand in mind) and are ultimately more confident that they have made the right choice by the end of the purchase journey (63% vs 41% for people who started with no brand in mind).
In navigating this world of choice, consumers’ actions have been shown to be driven far more by the fear of making the wrong decision than the desire to make a good one. Even when consumers strongly desire something they can still be consumed with worry by the potential, however small, that they have missed a crucial piece of information and are making a bad decision.
The roles media play in the consumer journey
Media play a key role in guiding people through the purchase journey and giving them confidence that they are making the right choice.
During the journey itself, we believe that there are seven roles that media brands can and do play in helping people making the decision as to which brand or product to buy. These include:
- Frame: Shaping perceptions
- Short cut: Helping people make decisions
- Awareness: Showing what’s out there and is important
- Tease: Gentle but persistent reminders
- Inform: Providing a ‘real world’ perspective
- Isolate: Providing a moment of clarity
- Challenge: Stress testing assumptions
- Confirm: Corroborating assumption
The influence of media doesn’t stop at purchase, there are two further roles that media play post purchase. Given the fact that a significant number of people are still worried once they have made the purchase, the role of media in generating satisfaction and confidence is vital:
- Share: Comment and advocacy
- Enjoy: Review satisfactions
The role for newsbrands across the journey
Newsbrands help reinforce values and help people determine what matters and what to spend time thinking about. This is as true of purchase decisions as it is of politics and culture; they provide a lens on the choices that matter and are worth considering. In our ‘How people buy’ study, 85% of respondents agreed that seeing a brand or product in their newsbrand gave them more confidence that it was right for them.
As such, UK newsbrands can be a powerful influence throughout consumer journeys, with both print and digital advertising as well as editorial content coming into play here. The ‘rightness’ inferred by newsbrands provides consumers with increased confidence that choosing brands, products and services within them are not decisions they will come to regret.