As marketers, we’re constantly looking for a better understanding of our audiences’ needs: from purchasing behaviors and channel activity, to platform use and industry-specific insights. We know each of these facets has been dramatically impacted by the continued march of technology and the tumultuous events of the last 18 months, including the pandemic. And we know these impacts will continue evolving — and that as marketers we need to keep up.
In Part 2 of our series on journey mapping, we take a look at key trends and changes in consumer behavior in various industries, how they could impact the customer journey at different stages, and how brands can adapt to better meet customers’ current needs and desires.
Behavior: Brand Loyalty
Headlines might give you a sense that brands seen as acting ethically and sustainably have a leg up on their competitors. Digging deeper, though, the loyalty trend reflects otherwise. A study by PWC revealed that reliability remains the top driver of loyalty — 46% of shoppers placed the trait in their top three. Product availability, customer service and loyalty programs all placed ahead of ethical practices (24%) and sustainable practices (19%). Keep in mind that acting ethically and sustainably is not the same as having a strong purpose — purpose is still a powerful magnet.
The journey takeaway: It’s important to follow the headlines to remain current on how buying journeys are evolving. But it’s also key to rely on data.
Industry: Financial Services
Let’s look at impacts on a specific industry. Gen Z started investing younger than any generation, and they’re incredibly active traders. They’re far more independent than previous generations, turning first to investing communities and YouTube — the top source of investing information among young investors.
Nearly 60% of Millennial and Gen-Z investors are members of investment communities or forums, such as Reddit or a group of like-minded investor friends. Only 36% of young investors plan to use that money for retirement. Instead, 35% will primarily use those returns to make additional investments, while 19% will use the money to pay for a major purchase, like a home or a car. The realities have major implications on how these investors are making decisions and the information they need across their journeys.
We’re doing more of everything on our mobile devices. It’s not a new trend, but thanks in part to the pandemic, it continues to pick up speed. Use of smartphones for online shopping has more than doubled since 2018; just between March and June of this year, the number of people shopping daily on their phones rose 4%.
So much more of the consumer journey is playing out on the small screen. Given that Americans spend an average of 5.4 hours daily on their mobile phones, there’s little time for them to think about buying elsewhere. Most marketers have been working in this direction for some time, but if you’re ever going to seriously make your content easy to find, consume and navigate — and make the actual purchase as easy as possible — now’s the time.
Industry: Homebuilding and Buying
The consumer home-buying journey map has been dizzying over the last 18 months. In many cases, because of sizzling demand for homes, the discovery/consideration/decision phases of the journey have been literally compressed into hours and sometimes minutes.
And turning to new homes, we know now that the meteoric rise in the cost of lumber has finally slowed, but overall, prices remain prohibitively high. Cost of materials, like copper and cement prices, are still on the rise. Prospective buyers may already be shellshocked when they enter the discovery and consideration phase — how we speak to them at all phases must reflect their harried state.
Finally, let’s look at whose journeys are intersecting with which social media platforms. Again, it’s evolving quickly. We’ve known for a while now that Facebook is getting older — Gen Z is leaving their grandparents’ platform of choice in droves. Facebook is even losing traction with adults up to age 54. If your marketing banked on clicking with 45-year-olds on Facebook, beware they’re steadily dropping off.
And many of them are heading to Twitter and Instagram. Remarkably, use of both platforms by all age groups increased from 2020 to 2021. Instagram is still hugely popular with 12–34-year-olds, but their grandparents are making moves to catch up. Generational use of all these platforms will remain a moving target. When mapping out your journeys, again, it’s crucial to stay current on who’s doing what where.
As we said in Part 1 of this series, being where your consumers’ attention is, with the information they want and need, is the essence of journey mapping. But equally important is embracing the fact that much of this is a moving target. If anything, it’s only going to gain speed. Stay close to what’s happening on various platforms and channels, within industries and with consumers’ changing behaviors — then map accordingly. You’ll ensure you’re getting your customers the information and inspiration they need, when they need it.
And if you missed parts I and III of our journey-mapping series, make sure you check them out below:
- Journey Mapping, Part I: A Video Strategy that Pays You Back
- Journey Mapping, Part III: CTAs Can Make or Break Your Efforts
We’d love to hear from you! Let us know what trends you’re eyeing, and how they’re informing your journey maps. Need help updating them? Or perhaps you’re creating them for the first time? We can help — reach out to us and tell us where you’re at in your efforts.