The Endless Paths to Purchase in CPG


Had to laugh at this post last week about how marketers think people buy and what really happens.

The truth is we often try to dream up the perfect sales funnel, imagining the ideal path from ad to purchase. But when we take off our marketer hat and think about how we actually shop, we know it's a whole different ball game. We discover brands in a blur of daily noise, and sometimes can't even pinpoint what led us to buy. This is especially true in the CPG world, where you can find products just about anywhere.

Let's take a look at some sample customer journey scenarios across channels:

Scenario 1: In-Store Discovery

  1. Customer visits a local retail store to pick something up.
  2. Customer notices a new product on shelf with eye-catching packaging.
  3. Customer scans QR code on packaging to read more about the product online. They join the mailing list for a coupon, but it doesn't come immediately.
  4. Customer adds the product to their cart but hesitates at checkout.
  5. Customer leaves the store without the product.
  6. Customer receives the coupon via email.
  7. Customer returns to store and purchases product with coupon.

Scenario 2: Amazon Browsing

  1. Customer visits Amazon to re-order household items.
  2. Customer stumbles upon a CPG product through 'Customers Also Bought' section.
  3. Customer reads positive reviews.
  4. Customer forgets about it for a week.
  5. Amazon sends a reminder email about the item on sale.
  6. Customer purchases the product during the sale.

Scenario 3: Social Media Influence

  1. Customer watches an influencer mention a CPG product in a story.
  2. Customer likes the post but takes no action.
  3. Customer sees a friend post about the same product a few days later.
  4. Customer comments asking for the friend's opinion.
  5. Convinced by the friend’s positive review, customer searches for the product online.
  6. Customer follows the product’s Instagram page and uses a promo code to purchase via social.

Scenario 4: Targeted Advertising

  1. Customer initially sees a video ad for a CPG product on YouTube but skips it.
  2. The ad follows the customer to Facebook and Instagram.
  3. Customer finally watches the full ad on Facebook.
  4. Customer visits the brand’s website but leaves without buying.
  5. Customer receives a targeted ad while reading a food blog.
  6. Customer clicks the ad, returns to the site, and ends up buying a starter bundle.

Scenario 5: Email Marketing

  1. Customer turns to Google for dinner ideas.
  2. Customer gets lost in a sea of interesting recipes on a blog and signs up for the newsletter. They happen to be on a blog by a CPG brand.
  3. Customer receives welcome flow but doesn't take action.
  4. Over several weeks, the customer receives emails highlighting product benefits and customer stories.
  5. Customer receives an email with a limited-time offer for free cooking tools.
  6. Customer decides to make a purchase using the promo.


This post originally appeared in #77 of The E-Commerce Corner. Subscribe here.

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