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To aid us in creating these journeys, we use ethnography, social media research, and pathway planning tools. One of the most important lessons we have learned is to always start with the customer journey.

Every category has a journey that charts how a person becomes a prospect, a shopper, a buyer, a loyal customer, and ultimately an advocate. Every category journey must lead to advocacy, because the power of personal recommendation and user influence has such overwhelming impact in today’s world.

Every journey is tailored to a specific buying occasion. But research has shown that there are common steps in the customer journey regardless of category.

When a person’s interest is sparked in the category. Something that triggers a need or catalyzes awareness, and generating intrigue in the category.
The process of evaluating the options in a purchase category, soliciting other people’s perspectives, determining which brands you trust and desire.
The full shopping experience, from putting the product on a shopping list through the in-store experience.
The ownership experience, from buying the product to experiencing its value in your life.
The evangelistic mode, when you share positive (or negative) reviews and experiences about the brand with others.

However, the point of mapping the full customer journey in any given category is not to follow it blindly.