CPGmatters: PepsiCo Gathers Shopper Insights Along the Path to Purchase
By Dan Alaimo
Through a special arrangement, presented here for discussion is a summary
of a current article from the monthly e-zine, CPGmatters.
The path to purchase is not a straight line, and neither is it a circle as
some have described it. It is more like a pool or a "puddle," said
Sonja Mathews, director of strategy and consumer insights, PepsiCo. "We’ve
seen a lot of models that are circular in nature. It almost infers a linear
relationship to the path to purchase, but I don’t think it is linear.
I think a shopper is really a time traveler."
For instance, she added, when shoppers are in a traditional path-to-purchase
venue, which is usually a store, they are referring back to home-based occasions
for which they are going through that shopping experience. When they see a
particular brand on the shelf, they are thinking back to the time that they
tried that brand. When they see something they don’t recognize, they
are thinking about future uses for that brand."
As a result, Ms. Mathews said, the path-to-purchase is complete. At any stage
in the consumers’ purchase consideration cycle, "the stakes are
very high for us — as retailers, as brands, or as agencies — to
make or break that tenuous connection. So I really think that the path to purchase
is more of a puddle."
Ms. Mathews spoke in Chicago as part of a panel at the annual conference hosted
by the Association for Integrated Marketing (formerly the Promotion Marketing
Association), New York.
The path to purchase involves the shopper, but also anyone interested in,
affected by, or even observing the brand purchase, according to Ms. Mathews.
would be not only people who are pushing the big cart, but also the people
who are whispering in the ear of the person pushing the big cart. These are
influencers, who might not even be in the store. Then there are those who see
somebody else trying something, and think, ‘I wonder if that’s for me.’
That is a magical moment when the path to purchase in the store begins," Ms.
This complicates simpler concepts of path to purchase. "That neat little
circle talking about pre-shop, shop and post-shop is maybe not quite so applicable."
to an earlier presentation at the conference by a Target Corp. executive, she
pointed out that the retailer practices "three-dimensional selling. They
are looking for a problem to solve rather than a brand to sell, and that means
they are actually doing something very right."
Rita Bargerhuff, chief marketing officer, who was also on the PMA panel, agreed
about the "puddle" metaphor.
"I absolutely agree (path to purchase) is a puddle. The real challenge
— and I think it has always been a challenge — is that as marketers,
we are never really certain when that starts," she added.
Discussion Question: What limitations do you see in the traditional "pre-shop,
shop and post-shop" view in analyzing path to purchase? Is there a better
model that would help marketers visualize how shoppers are influenced?