New technologies such as smart phones, wireless internet, and social media have changed the way consumers buy their products. In the past marketers created awareness of their products through advertising. Once the consumer was exposed several times to a message it would move down to the consideration stage where the consumer acknowledges the need and starts comparing solutions. Finally the product that presented the best solution would win the sale and move the consumer to the purchasing phase. This buying funnel was controlled by a one-way marketing channel, and most of the times the brands with the bigger budgets and better messaging would win the sale. Thanks to new technologies we have now moved into a two way communication buying funnel, where the consumer pulls information from various sources and also actively contributes to the process of the buying funnel.
Just like in the traditional buying funnel, the purchase starts with creating awareness. Because of the ease of multiple flows of communication, awareness can now be created by several sources such as word of mouth (in person or through social media), a marketing message from multiple media outlets, or by own discovery through search engines. Moving the consumer to the purchase decision has become more complex. Because of the thousands of messages consumers are exposed to every day, we are now trained in what to ignore and what to pay attention to. Being able to target the right message to the right consumer in this stage is very important. The consumer has become aware of the need, and you want to engage their curiosity by tactfully providing content that informs and educates them about the product or service. In this research stage the consumer is looking for positive and negative customer reviews, the functionality of the product, and even unboxing videos so that they can experience what it would be like to own the product. The length of the research phase is highly determined by the risk, The higher the cost, the more time consumers are willing to invest time into this. Once the research has been completed the consumer will have a shortlist of products that he or she will choose from. Positive customer reviews, the opportunity to test out the product, and a flexible return policy will increases the willingness to buy. Many times consumer will research online and buy in the brick and mortar retail location because of the ability to test the product and have an easily accessible location to return the product if it didn’t satisfy the needs of the consumer. After the purchase, the consumer now becomes your product voice. If the experience was positive they will promote your product and become a brand ambassador, if it was negative they will most likely return the product and tell the world not to buy the product.
With the new technologies it has become very easy to voice your opinion to a large audience. The consumer expects more control and will voice their opinion. This means that the level of customer service and product quality always have to be in sync with the expectations of the consumer. If you meet all the expectations, you will receive the best marketing money can buy.