You’ve Won the Sale. Now What?: Understanding Post-Purchase Consumer Behavior
Manufacturers and retailers alike need to know where, when and how to connect with consumers along their purchase journey, and understand that winning the sale is not the final destination. Post-purchase behaviors are equally critical for the tech industry, as these ‘steps’ ultimately lead the consumer to return to the path to purchase.
Smartphones present a convenient example of the cyclical nature of technology consumption: we research and buy a device, use it and ultimately dispose of and/or replace it with a new one. But while each product purchase journey generally follows the same trajectory, steps taken along the path can vary greatly.
Five Buyer Waypoints
A trio of Consumers’ Journey to Purchase reports from CTA defines the steps along the path to purchase for audio, health and fitness, and mobile devices. The research reveals five basic buyer waypoints intrinsic to the sale of virtually all consumer technologies.
Step 1: Requirements – Whether the purchase is planned or unplanned, most, but not all, purchase journeys commence with assessing requirements. However, repeat purchases (i.e., smartphones) may skip the requirements step, for example.
Step 2: Conducting research & Step 3: Assessing product options – Like hopscotch, Steps Two and Three very often occur together, but can modulate between online and physical stores.
Step 4: Decide where to buy & Step 5: Make the purchase – Once again, consumers decide to make the purchase either online or from a physical store.
CTA’s research goes further to identify influences that act like roadside billboards, turning the heads of consumers as they move invariably toward the register. Major influencers include: friends/family, salespeople, a store display and online reviews. Across the audio, health and fitness and mobile device purchase journeys CTA examined, a friend or family member had the largest impact on influencing the purchase.
After the sale is made, behavioral paths diverge and some journeys, unhappily, run aground in a return or refund. CTA’s recently released Consumer Technology Post-Purchase Behavior Report is the epilogue of the buying experience, exploring purchase satisfaction, product registration, return activities and resolutions, warranty claims, device replacement/disposal and future-use intent.
The research found post-purchase satisfaction is high (94 percent) across the more than three dozen product categories surveyed, with audio (98 percent) and health and fitness (97 percent) purchasers exhibiting highest satisfaction with their product.
More than half of consumers report they registered their product with the manufacturer, either at the time of purchase or afterward. Across all product categories, registration is the most common action taken at the time of purchase (34 percent), while post-purchase, consumers are eager to share about their new technology as more than half (56 percent) either write an online review, tell a friend or family member, or post pictures or videos to social media.
Few consumer tech purchasers buy installation/setup service after the sale. Among those who do find they need help with installation after getting their tech product home, the biggest factors are time involved in the install (39 percent), needing more than one person to complete the install (26 percent), and the install was more difficult than anticipated (18 percent). This is why retailers need to talk to customers about install services on the sales floor before they realize they need it.
Warranty Purchases & Returns
On the warranty front, 40 percent of consumers say they typically buy extended warranties. Only a handful filed a warranty claim within Year One of ownership; those who did reported satisfaction with the outcome. More good news: the percentage of consumers returning a product was also very low. Common reasons for returns: product did not work as expected (32 percent), purchased similar/multiple products and decided not to keep that one (32 percent) and product not working out of the box (30 percent).
When it’s time to dispose of tech products, recycling (24 percent), putting into storage (24 percent), and giving away (22 percent) are most common consumer tech disposal methods. Notably, the percentage of consumers either putting their old tech into storage or throwing it away is relatively high, which may indicate consumers are unsure how to properly dispose of tech items. Retailers who offer recycling services can use this to generate foot traffic.
Now more than ever, service before, during and after the sale is not only vital to building loyalty, but essential to putting customers back on the purchase path again.
The trio of CTA’s Consumers’ Journey to Purchase reports and the Consumer Technology Post-Purchase Behavior Report is available for sale at http://www.cta.tech/Research/Overview/Callouts/Store.aspx.
This article was originally published in the March 2016 issue of Dealerscope magazine.