The purchase funnel is dead.

Many marketers have suspected it for some time now. And there have even been a few attempts to make it official. At Empower MediaMarketing, we have officially moved on.

Why is this historically standard model for displaying how marketing efforts impact consumer purchase behavior no longer accurate? We see two main reasons.

  1. Consumer purchase behavior is typically not linear, but the purchase funnel always is.
  2. The purchase funnel assumes that consumers who make it to the end of the funnel, usually loyalty or advocacy, will remain there forever. However, even the most loyal consumer can be lost. A poor experience, a more attractive competitive offer or a new entrant to the marketplace is all it takes for a brand advocate to end up in the “purchase funnel” of another brand.

Putting Consumers on the Map
To correct these shortcomings, we conducted primary research to develop a new consumer behavior model that we call the Brand Participation Map℠ (BPM). The BPM outlines how consumers (“brand participants”) interact with brands throughout the purchase process. And it allows marketers to better consider how to talk “to” and “with” consumers. An early version of the map is below.


Life is (Usually) Not Linear

The BPM is also a heat map in the sense that from blue (awareness) to red (advocacy) represents the progression of a brand’s “hottest” or most valuable brand participants. The Brand Participation Map is flexible enough that it can apply to a number of different types of purchases, from a car, where consideration can take weeks to months, to impulse CPG purchases, where consideration takes moments. Further, the phases of the purchase process are not distinct but meld into one another as consumers flirt with consideration, preference, loyalty and advocacy.

The idea is that the standard progression from awareness to advocacy can still take place, but it doesn’t have to.  This is especially true for repeat purchases where a loyal consumer can go back and forth from purchase to loyalty without  starting the process over before each purchase.  It also gives advocates a clear path back to awareness and consideration of competitive products as they see fit.

BPM Yields Competitive Insights
We recently conducted a Brand Participation Map study for one of our clients, which provided insights into where their Brand Participant falls on the BPM in specific markets (above). The study also compared the brand against its competitors.  With this knowledge, we can better target the opportunity areas for our client, potential white space in the category and our recommendations.

The Brand Participation Map is being rolled out this year across multiple clients for use in a variety of ways, including informing start work meetings to help set goals and measuring campaign impact.

The purchase funnel is dead. Viva la Brand Participation Map!

:: By Dan Mayer, Media Analytics Director

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