Why do we do the things we do? What is it exactly that drives our action? What do we know about our motives? A consumer decision-making journey is not easy to understand. We rarely make rational choices in our lives and our purchases!
The consumer decision journey has evolved significantly over the past decade due to the internet, digital innovation and the subsequent rise of the internet. Consumers are moving outside the marketing funnel by changing the way they research and buy products. Instead of a path to purchase that is traditionally linear, it has become more of a cycle. Moreover, it is not just dependent on products or brand, it involves channels too.
i5 model involves 5 steps of consumer journey: Introduction, Inspection, Investigation, Involvement and Inclination. It defines how a consumer starts its journey by need recognition and eventually passes through various steps to develop loyalty towards a brand or make an exit to explore other options.
Introduction is the first step when a consumer recognizes a need and interprets it for myriad reasons. It includes psychological as well as physiological needs. The arousal of need is triggered by the stimuli (internal and external), stronger the stimuli, stronger will be the motivation to further involvement in the decision-making process.
In this step, a consumer tries to evaluate his association with brands. The salience or a brand being top of mind in a decision situation is the first critical factor. Any first-hand experience (past usage) with the brand and second-hand experiences (influencers) on social media or directly communicated by the brand. The overall positive feeling created by these experiences will nudge consumers to choose one brand over another.
During the investigation stage, a consumer looks after the channel which suits the most. It may involve convenience, low prices, offers or lock into a loyalty-based program. With the continuous evolvement of e-commerce platforms and comparison sites, a consumer inclines to make a smart decision. Furthermore, the combination of both channels (online and offline) is also in use to decide to purchase. The concepts like “showrooming,” are byproducts of it.
Involvement is the user experience phase or the period of usage. It is the “moment of contact” of a brand and a customer.
Involvement creates experience and experience shapes inclination. How well a brand delivered against expectations is critical to developing the loyalty loop, advocacy and repurchase decision. An unsatisfied consumer exits the journey to look after further options.