The 6 Types of Digital Consumers and Their Paths to Purchase

Digital Consumer

Image from: Digital Consumer / Shutterstock

In our continuing research on the digital consumer, it’s imperative to ask ourselves what role digital media plays in the path to purchase—the journey consumers take along the decision-making process. A study released today by GroupMNext and Compete gives us significant insight into the Digital Consumer’s Path to Purchase. Highlights include:

  • There are six distinct segments of consumers who exhibit similar behaviors and intent.
  • Amazon is a significant influencer in the journey, representing one-third of all retail site visits.
  • The brand website still plays an important role for 69% of purchasers.
  • 48% of purchases studied were heavily influenced by digital media and technology.

The Six Types of Digital Consumers

Of consumers who utilized digital at least once in their purchase pathway, six distinct segments emerged. The segments, as identified by GroupM Next, are:

  • Basic Digital Consumers: These are not highly digital users. They are comfortable with Internet shopping and research, but they are not mobile or social and have the second-highest likelihood of buying offline.
  • Retail Scouts: These consumers have short journeys and prefer retail sites to brand sites. They use mobile, but are twice as likely to use it in the home as out. They are comfortable buying online but did not express a preference between online and offline.
  • Brand Scouts: Brand Scouts are the spiritual partner to the Retail Scouts except instead of having a favorite retailer, they have a favorite brand. When asked, 72% said they start their journey with a brand in mind.
  • Digitally Driven Segment: They use every digital tool at their disposal. They use social and mobile more than any other segment in the study, value convenience above all else and they do everything in their power to avoid physically going to a store. The Digitally Driven exist in good numbers already, but within five years this will be the dominant segment of consumers.
  • Calculated Shoppers: These shoppers seem to know they are going to make a purchase, but they are deciding which brand to choose. They are similar to the Digitally Driven Segment, but have no urgency to their purchase and they’re willing to take the time to get the best deal.
  • External Shoppers: These are non-mobile shoppers. They want the answers to, “Should I buy?”, “What do I buy?” and “What brand do I buy?”–all at the same time. These shoppers have no urgency to make a purchase and they do their research on desktop and laptop computers.

six segments and their paths to purchase
Amazon as an Influencer:

  • 37% of the time Amazon starts a path that ends somewhere else.
  • 35% of the time the purchase path ends at Amazon.
  • 22% of the time the path starts and ends somewhere else, but Amazon is used in the middle.
  • 6% of the time Amazon is the only destination in the path.

purchase pathways containing amazon
What this means for digital marketers:

    • Marketers cannot treat all digital consumers the same. Pathways will change over time and new ones are likely to develop.
    • The consumer’s journey itself is the deciding factor in a purchase, as opposed to, for example, the ticket price of the item. As digital marketers, we need to continue to study the journey, not necessarily price or promotion.
    • With a significant consumer shift to mobile devices and tablets, there is an emerging power-shopping class that will not behave like anything we have seen before.
    • Purchase pathways differentiate with behavioral factors, not necessarily demographics. We need to keep a close eye on behaviors and intent, not a cookie-cutter approach to demographics. Because each of the six digital consumer journeys are unique, they all have different buying triggers – behavior that brands should integrate into their digital marketing strategies.

For more information on the Digital Consumer Journey, download the whitepaper and check out the infographic below!

infographic consumer path to purchase

About Tyson Goodridge:
Tyson Goodridge is a marketing contractor for Compete and advises the team on best practices with product launches, social media, content development and B2B marketing. He’s a happy Dad to two precocious little boys, a (somewhat) obedient husband to his lovely bride, and a lonely NY sports fan living in New England. His passions are putting people and ideas together, reading, entertaining, and good food and wine. You can find him on Vine at Tyson Goodridge, and on Twitter @goodridge.