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Last week, upwards of 20,000 people tuned in to a Periscope feed of a path between Jesmond station and the center of Newcastle in the North-East of England. Given the recent inclement weather a particularly large puddle—the Drummond Puddle, named after the marketing agency situated nearby that decided to stream the footage—had formed in the middle of the pathway, and observing the various ways people were attempting to circumnavigate, hurdle or simply plow through the watery expanse became something of a spectator sport.
This route to the main shopping area of Newcastle is a good metaphor for UK consumers’ path to purchase. More people than ever before start out on the digital path, but when it comes to making the final purchase, many take a different route around the puddle.
According to a December 2015 report from consumer analysis and data marketing specialist GI Insight, 71% of UK internet users polled in October 2015 said they began their shopping journey online.
Google and TNS data from April 2015 painted a similar picture, with 70% of Internet users in the UK stating they became aware of products digitally (via website or app) during the research process—the highest response rate across the EU-5 and well ahead of in-store, at just 25%.
However, once consumers get further along the path to purchase, many stray from the digital path. For example, the GI Insight research found that although a sizable proportion of internet users completed purchases online—42%—it was still some way down on the 71% who began the journey in that environment. A visit to a physical store, on the other hand, was much more popular at this particular point in the customer journey—31% completed a purchase in this environment vs. just 18% who began in-store.
They key difference between the consumer path to purchase and the Drummond Puddle is that whatever route consumers choose to take on their way to making a purchase, the only thing that stands in their way is choice, not wet shoes.
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