Commentary

Major-Life Purchase Marketing: Making Complex Decisions Easier

There are more than 5.6 billion Google searches every day (per Internet Live Stats), with 78% of U.S. internet users  (according to StatusLabs) researching products and services online. 

These shoppers are evaluating cost and quality on everything from impulse purchases, like those trendy “Dad sneakers,” to considered decisions, like buying new furniture or big-screen TVs. 

They’re also making more complex investments, those we call major-life purchases (MLPs), such as buying a house or an insurance product. 

These purchases involve not only a great deal of consideration but also entail a high degree of financial and emotional risk. MLPs include:  

  • Financial assistance in the form of credit or loans for mortgages and personal lines of credit
  • Insurance assistance to protect health, family, and possessions
  • Higher education to fulfill a passion or increase earning potential
  • Auto ownership, which enables freedom and mobility
  • Home ownership and home services, such as security and home improvements

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While the end goal on all of these decisions is similar — securing the product that you feel good about emotionally and financially — the path to purchase is often drastically different. So, too, must be the marketing approach. 

Changing Your Approach

While we know these industries aren’t new, the driver of the path to purchase has dramatically changed in the last decade. Where marketers used to steer the engagement process, that’s no longer so. 

Consumers have access to an abundance of information and are in control of when, where, and how they shop for MLPs.

The marketer’s job is now to meet the consumer when and how they need you to meet them. And with consumer expectations hitting an all-time high, shoppers are more than willing to take their spend elsewhere. 

Meeting consumers’ rising expectations requires new capabilities. A simple, yet effective, framework will help ensure high customer lifetime value for your business. This includes: 

  • Targeting people, not devices or opaque audiences. Access to strong Identity resolution is a must.
  • Concentrating on consumer behaviors as signals of where consumers are in their buying process. Demographics can help also but not nearly as much.
  • Making the shopping process helpful to the customer — not spammy, annoying, or intrusive..

Form an Effective Data Strategy

Marketers also need to develop a deep understanding of how consumers navigate these complex purchase processes because consumers are picky, and not every consumer is a fit (think higher learning) or qualified (think auto insurance rates). Their shopping journeys are lengthy: our data shows a six-month cycle for insurance and mortgage shoppers, and  similar research indicating up to three months for automotive.  

Keeping up with a customer during their MLP purchase journey is complex. Customers want to be remembered as they crisscross channels, according to BCG in a recent report. Creating a sustained marketing relationship across this long evaluation journey requires a different focus and skill set. An MLP marketer needs to stay in tune with customer decision stages and individual preferences.

Additionally, companies need a data strategy that they can execute at scale. By accessing the right data, companies have all the knowledge to create great experiences; by leveraging it properly, marketers actually create better experiences for MLP shoppers.

2 comments about "Major-Life Purchase Marketing: Making Complex Decisions Easier".
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  1. James Smith from J. R. Smith Group, March 12, 2019 at 10:08 p.m.

    Ross, interesting ideas. How would the following fit into your MLP scheme?  MLP's involve fear, risk and uncertainty. In addition to "knowing" details about consumer journeys, shouldn't brand messaging address these psychological factors?  In other words, systematically de-risking key elements of the consumer decisioning process.Thereby reducing fear and uncertainty.

  2. Ross Shanken from Jornaya, March 13, 2019 at 9:19 p.m.

    Hi James, good points, and some things to consider. You might enjoy reading Jornaya's Major-Life Purchase (MLP) marketing report found here:  https://www.jornaya.com/research/customer-journeys-in-major-life-purchase-markets/

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