Whether it’s funnels, pyramids, or water slides, modern marketing doesn’t lack metaphors to help explain complicated customer journeys. Paradoxically, it’s this abundance of metaphors that creates an inability for most marketers to agree on the best way to understand and measure the many pathways to purchase.
Recent research from Google admits the path to purchase for most goods and services includes a Messy Middle, this quantum superposition customers can enter between research and decision, but even this more holistic framework feels inapplicable to suitably explain the customer journey for most marketers.
Enter the Hankins Hexagon. On episode #4 of What Gets Measured, a NinjaCat original podcast, we speak with James Hankins.
James Hankins has spent nearly 20 years as a strategist working with some of the world’s most recognizable brands such as IKEA, BMW, John Lewis, Coca-Cola and KFC, and recently founded his own strategic marketing/business consultancy, Vizer. James is a mentor at the Institute of Practitioners in Advertising where he also co-chairs a Share of Search think tank. He’s worked on all sides of the marketing spectrum, at Manning Gottlieb, Vizeum UK, he’s currently the Global VP of Marketing Strategy and Planning at Sage Software, and he sat down with us recently to discuss the customer journey.
The Hankins Hexagon assumes the pathway to purchase is non-linear. There are 6 nodes or stages, moments in time that could last seconds or years, that are common in most every pathway to purchase; passive assimilation, trigger, active evaluation, comparison, purchase, and post-purchase.
The genius of the Hankins Hexagon is that it works on the assumption of non-linearity, there just isn’t a reliable way to chart the meandering routes individual consumers pursue on the path to purchase. However, there is a reliable way to apply marketing levers at each node of the hexagon, to increase the probabilities certain actions will take place.
“If you apply a brand lens to the nodes of the hexagon,” says James, “you can then appreciate what is within your armory to help move people around the nodes more effectively.”
“It’s important to note that buying milk is different than buying a car,” James continues. “There will always be bespoke, category specific pathways. Once you understand the common pathways, you can make better strategies, and if you’re really clever, you can look to circumvent those patterns and observe the desired change in the marketplace.”
James goes on to describe his market research work with IKEA, and how brand health insights revealed a strategic way to position the well-known furniture brand for a pivot into their “Wonderful Everyday” campaign.
“I looked at the measurements and saw that awareness and consideration were trending together,” explains James. “If IKEA wasn’t in your consideration set you weren’t aware of them at all. The messaging was a total blank spot, no awareness.”
“What seemed like a simple finding actually became strategically profound,” James continues. “We learned that no amount of spend in awareness, was going to switch consideration. What was needed was a total repositioning, which ultimately turned into ”The Wonderful Everyday.”
James then goes into his research into Share of Search being a proxy measurement for market share, the marketing science research from Ehrenberg-Bass, his thoughts on why understanding total addressable marketplace is essential to sensible strategy, and more!!
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Here is a round-up of links, authors, and sources mentioned during the episode: