Marketers who count on TV commercials to motivate consumers
to immediately go out and buy their products may be missing out on a
significant chunk of audience that chooses the brands they will purchase long before
those commercials air.
During the recent Cannes International Festival of
Creativity, media agency MEC unveiled a new proprietary approach to
understanding and quantifying how consumers make purchases called Momentum.
The approach was developed using information gathered over a
two-year period via some 40 surveys of consumers in 11 different countries
worldwide—U.S., U.K., China, France, Italy, Germany, Russia, Poland, India,
Mexico and Malaysia. In total, over 100,000 consumers were questioned about how
and when they make their buying decisions.
In a nutshell, the studies found that more than 50% of
consumers have a clear idea of what brand they will buy before they have even
thought about going out to buy it. Momentum identifies those consumers as
having a Passive Stage Bias. Consumers in that group have a subconscious idea
of the brand they will buy, and most likely will go out and buy it regardless
of price or other considerations.
The Momentum approach defines the consumer purchasing
process as beginning in the Passive Stage and moving into the Active Stage.
During the Passive Stage, a consumer is not looking to buy a specific product
or brand, but is watching commercials and taking in information to be used in
the Active Stage, when the consumer actually needs to buy a product.
In some instances, that could involve major purchases like
buying a car, taking a vacation or applying for a credit card. The need to buy
within a certain category could also be triggered by an event, like marriage or
pregnancy. But it can also work for something as simple as a snack. The research
finds that consumers are gathering information for extended periods of time, even
subconsciously, before something triggers the need to make a purchase.
Pele Cortizo-Burgess, MEC's global director of integrated
planning, says the Momentum research differs from past consumer research
because it will help marketers get their brands ingrained in the minds of
consumers well before they are ready to buy.
What the Momentum research can do is to rate a brand's
"momentum" in the minds of consumers against its competition, and come up with
ways to get it into their thought processes during the Passive Stage. That way,
once they reach the Active Stage, their brand decision will more than likely
have already been made.
The data will be updated continually and archived to build
on the sample. Special data can be gathered for specific clients and brands.
"Momentum is two years in the making," Cortizo-Burgess says.
"It offers marketers a deeper understanding into the consumer thought process
leading up to the time of purchase. The bottom line is consumer perceptions of
brands are made way before they decide to make an actual purchase."
Cortizo-Burgess says media time historically has been
purchased concentrating on the Active Phase, targeting a consumer who is ready
to make a purchase. "We're not saying that process is wrong, but we're going to
approach it differently," he says. "This research has shown us that once
consumers in the Passive Stage have engaged with a brand and developed a trust,
a TV commercial when they're ready to buy is not going to do much good."
Cortizo-Burgess says because the data spans worldwide, they
"can activate it nationwide or globally, depending on the client and the
Momentum has research on consumer thought process in the Passive
Stage in a number of categories including automotive, mobile products, credit
cards, banking, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, consumer packaged goods, auto
insurance and snacks.
"This will all change how media planning works,"
Cortizo-Burgess says. "It will give brands a better chance to work their way
into consumers' thought processes on an ongoing basis."
Reaching out to consumers in the Passive Stage can include
traditional advertising, but can also include sponsorships of events, creation
of special digital sites and elements and corporate responsibility efforts,
like financially supporting causes.
"We meet with our clients and give them the touch points
necessary to reach the right consumer base for their brands so that when the
consumer is ready to buy, their brand is top of mind," Cortizo-Burgess says.