The Customer Journey

The Outdoor Media Centre (OMC), a trade and marketing body representing the interests of the Outdoor Advertising industry, has commissioned a study to find out what influences buyers and how does this influence work. ‘The Customer Journey’ research presents a new paradigm on the way we buy and shows that outdoor advertising has a strong influence on consumers.

‘The Customer Journey’

ICM Research and On Device Research (ODR) carried out research using a mixture of online and dynamic tools, including face-to-face and mobile phones.

Historically it was believed that the customers’ experience on their purchase process was like a funnel: they would start with a wide range of options, which then was narrowed down and resulted on the final buy. This is also known as the AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Action) model.

‘The Customer Journey’ found that this model no longer applies. The process is not lineal. The new path to purchase is convoluted with feedback loops. The decision to buy is influenced, changed expanded and narrowed, by diverse stimuli several times along the way. From online and word-of-mouth to social media, they all play a role. However advertising media was found to be a more effective stimulus to purchase, with a higher share of effective encounters than non-media.

Mike Baker, ceo of the Outdoor Media Centre comments, “It is very good to see that advertising works and represents the majority of the stimulus to purchase. Understanding the customer journey is key for those of us who work in advertising and media.”

The research defined four stages on the customer journey: absorbing information, i.e. passively receiving information but not actively looking; planning a purchase, i.e. actively planning to buy a product and building a shortlist; obtaining a product; and sharing information about it afterwards, i.e. social media.

Nine different product categories were examined to see the reaction they had in customers. The categories were: cars, fashion, travel, personal finance, telecoms, drinks, perfume, films and pay TV.

“Each category has a different buying cycle, which is closely linked to the frequency of the purchase and the value of the goods,” explains Baker and adds, “for instance, more people respond to fashion stimuli than they do to banking advertising. But then again, they represent very different needs.

The study found that encounters with outdoor advertising led to a high degree of positive feelings, and also actions. The research confirmed that outdoors’s key audiences are young, affluent, urban, connected and mobile. These are the groups who are both most heavily exposed to outdoor ads and most likely to respond to them.

Results also showed that outdoor-exposed audiences are strongly correlated with social media use, and are more active than the population at on social media at every stage of their journey. A higher level of outdoor ad exposure led to a higher propensity to search online and buy products as a direct result of outdoor advertising. Outdoor is also the medium most highly associated with mobile internet search.

Of all the encounters logged at the diary stage, TV and Outdoor advertisements were by far the most numerous within media, while word of mouth and hands on use of the product were most numerous in the non-media encounters.

Each medium showed a stronger share of voice at one or other phase of the customer journey: TV at the absorbing phase, online at the planning phase, radio and newspapers at the obtaining stage, and social media at the sharing stage. Outdoor is the strongest of all media at the obtaining stage and the second strongest at all the other three phases. This demonstrates a key role for outdoor at every stage of the customer journey.

The static stage of the research was commissioned from ICM and involved an online sample of 1,537 nationally representative GB adults to provide insight into how people see themselves at different stages of the customer journey, and what information sources they use. The dynamic stage was handled by OnDevice Research, with 2,141 participants recording their brand and advertising interactions over a two-week period. Respondents noted encounters that they felt were relevant with one of nine different product categories by using a mobile-based diary to record their reactions and behaviours in the context of advertising and non-advertising encounters. More than 13,000 such encounters were recorded.

First published 13 April 2012 – Output