In a recent post, “Digitizing the 1st Moment of Truth,” I wrote about the advent of UPC driven Smartphone apps that have the potential to radically change the point of sale shopping experience. This is really just part of a larger shift to a “Digital Shopping Funnel.”
Today’s consumers live in a busy, sometime chaotic, world. For most consumer shoppers, their lives are connected by 3 important elements — the home, the car and the store. All three offer increasing digital opportunities for Marketers to communicate with and influence consumers.
The old purchase funnel was consumer mindset: awareness, knowledge, consideration, and purchase. The new Digital Purchase Funnel can be thought of as the series of digital interaction points along the journey from a consumer’s home to the store. How should Brands be thinking about this journey?
The Home-Car-Store Digital Journey
The Home – TV, of course, remains the dominant in-home screen and continues to grow in usage. 2009 TV usage in the U.S. was at an all time high of 35 hours per week. PC usage continues to be high at ~7 hours per week, but growth is leveling off. The most important in-home trend that bears watching is cross-platform media usage, particularly as the World Cup approaches.
New Nielsen data shows that almost 50% of consumers watch TV and are on-line concurrently at some point, and about 4% of total viewing time is simultaneous. Related, AOL research shows that 71% of consumers use their Smart Phones while watching TV.
This means that consumers aren’t always paying attention to the TV shows they’re supposedly watching. Ever try watching an episode of “Lost” while surfing the web? If you have, then you know that you miss a lot because you’re not as involved as you could be. Involvement in a show becomes more critical than ever (see my blog post: “Why Your Brand Should Understand TV Program Engagement”).
Further, if I know that many consumers in my target audience watch “Lost” and use Facebook at the same time, perhaps I should be doing cross-platform advertising and other marketing for “Lost” and Facebook. This kind of simultaneous advertising and social media exposure across TV-Web-Mobile will become more important in the future.
The other in-home trend to watch is on-line video. In 2009, on-line video usage increased +41%. More importantly, Nielsen IAG research shows that the same ads as on-line video are more effective than traditional network TV ads, all things equal. And, the combination of traditional TV ads and on-line video ads are more effective than either individually. All of this means that understanding cross-platform viewing and ad impact is more important than ever.
The Car – The average driver spends about 2.5 hours per day in their car, according to Arbitron. This is 2.5 hours of time that’s about to change rapidly with the advent of in-car digital media. Long the domain of radio and music, the car is perhaps the last frontier in digital mobile content. Ford recently announced that they’ve now sold 2M cars with Sync, and GM’s On-Star is now in 6M cars. What can we expect in the way-station to the store in the future?
What we can expect is car based wi-fi, web connectivity via the driver’s cell phone, mobile apps designed for car usage, and even in-car mobile TV. Of course, most of these applications will be either voice-activated by the driver, or used by passengers for safety reasons.
Google is already operating in this space with its Android 2.0 upgrade, which includes a voice activated Google Maps application. Marketers are largely absent in-car at present other than radio, but the potential to deliver in-car communications, offers and other content via new digital connections is huge and largely untapped. And even radio is innovating, with Turner network offering contextual based advertising (see “Contextual Advertising: Moving Beyond the Web”).
The Store — Once in store, consumers will be able to use numerous UPC driven apps to evaluate products on price, performance, social responsibility and other important criteria. Consumers will be smarter and more informed at point of sale than ever before.
Increasingly, retailers will use their “4th Screen” out of home digital networks to advertise and promote brands in store. Current in-store networks have already demonstrated the ability to drive significant consumption increases of brands in exposed vs. non-exposed comparisons.
Finally, shopper marketing, including couponing, will become increasingly digital and activated by geo-location, and past shopper behavior will inform predictive analytics that will suggest products (such as, “consumers like you also bought…”), offers and other specials.
Stitching The Pieces Together
This new Digital Purchase Funnel – from home to car to store – is quickly becoming a reality. Almost all of the pieces are in-place or under development.
What’s fuzzy at the moment is how brands will stitch these home-car-store touch points together in a seamless consumer experience to maximize impact:
- What advertising combinations across these 3 points will be most impactful?
- Which messages will be most effective?
- Where can brands add the most value thru content specific apps?
- Where along the home-car-store axis do consumers want to engage or converse with brands?
- How will brands measure impact?
Our knowledge of these kinds of effects is virtually non-existent. But in the future, brands will need to answer these types of questions to engage consumers along this important Digital Purchase Funnel to win at the critical 1st moment of truth – the store shelf.