Mining online consumer purchase narratives can uncover and demystify the consumer purchase journey

Mining online consumer purchase narratives can uncover and demystify the consumer purchase journey

There are millions of comprehensive accounts online written by consumers detailing their purchase journeys, from why they started looking for a new product/service, up to what led them to their final purchase decision. By mining these accounts, brands can gain a detailed picture of the different steps in the consumer purchase journey. This is vital information: by understanding the purchase journey, brands can align their marketing with the process to maximise their chances of selling.

The importance of understanding the consumer purchase journey is well understood. However, building up a picture of this journey is very difficult, with traditional research methods time consuming and expensive. With the wealth of first-hand detail available online about the purchase process, online consumer posts offer an amazing opportunity to easily understand and take action on this process.

As we saw in our previous article on granularity (part of the ‘social insight iceberg’ series) the best way for extracting all the insight from unstructured conversations online is through utilising human analysis. Human analysts are able to understand and deconstruct the discussions consumers have about their purchase journeys online. This enables a complete and detailed picture of purchase to be built, giving brands the ability to tailor their sales and marketing strategies.

Only human analysts can identify and tag different stages of the purchase journey from online conversation:

  • Human analysts have the capabilities to understand and identify stages in the purchase process from online posts: when reading purchase accounts, human analysts are able to identify and tag the different stages in the consumer purchase journey into a taxonomy. This builds a picture up of the purchase process

Example human tagging from a written account of a purchase journey for a washing machine:


When these details are collated across thousands of posts, brands can get a detailed understanding of the purchase process to tailor their marketing strategies and tactics:

Example of what the consumer purchase journey for a washing machine can look like based on human analysis:

  • Because each stage has been identified by human analysts and tagged into a taxonomy, a detailed and clear process can be built up based on online discussion
  • Human analysis provides a consistent view of the purchase journey across different segments, markets and languages. Human analysts are able to tag different posts into the same taxonomy
  • This process can be expressed in stages to aide brands tailor their marketing strategies, by providing a simple view for brands to pick key areas where they should tailor their marketing for maximum effectiveness

This is the third in a series of articles exploring the insights researchers are currently missing out on that can be gained from social media research. For more information, please contact Jason Hardman.

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