A recent study from Valassis and Kantar Research uncovers fresh insights about the consumer journey and how it’s changing. Here’s what to know.

Consumers have more information than ever at their fingertips, and they’re using it to their advantage when making purchasing decisions. Recent research from Valassis and Kantar Research underscores this idea. Our report, called “The Future of How People Shop,” helps uncover fresh insights about the consumer journey and how it’s evolving.

By understanding who influences consumers and how they learn and discover, we can better understand what moves them from one stage of their purchasing journey to another. Identifying the triggers that spur consumers to move closer to making a purchase is a big part of it. Brands should take notice and make it their mission to provide information to their consumers to help them make better decisions, which can help brands set up a dialogue with them.

In this study, we wanted to understand the purchasing journey of several common, relatively inexpensive items. So we asked survey respondents about their purchasing decisions for household cleaning supplies, skincare products, groceries, small electronics, and purchases at restaurants. We wanted to find fresh perspectives on the purchasing journey for each category.

Key Survey Findings

One of the key lessons we learned is that today’s purchasing journey is driven by information. Consumers are more confident, they carefully research products they plan to buy, and they read labels to inform their decisions.

Let’s take a closer look at how information drives the consumer journey.

1. Consumers say they’re making better buying decisions with all the information available to them.
Consumers have access to so much information to help them on their buying journey, but that blizzard of information can also be overwhelming. Luckily, they appear to be weathering the storm well, with 68% agreeing they can make better purchasing decisions than they did five years ago, thanks to the available resources and knowledge. The numbers are even higher for those buying skincare products and small electronics, with about three-quarters agreeing that they’re making better decisions today.

2. Consumers are going online to research products before they buy.
Reviews, blogs, and brand websites are all popular places for consumers to gather information about products and brands. The survey found that six in 10 consumers research products before making a purchase decision, and 70% of electronics consumers conduct online research before buying. Information is easier to find these days with the help of online tools like apps and search engines, which strengthen consumer confidence in purchasing.

So how can brands become part of this educational cycle? One way is to gather reviews of their products and display those reviews where customers can see them. Of course, a large number of negative reviews won’t help your brand. Still, a few politely worded critiques sprinkled throughout a mostly positive feed won’t hurt, according to a study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

“People have a lot more tools at their disposal now to research their options,” said J. Walker Smith, chief knowledge officer at Kantar. “They can get a lot more information about things; they can get it faster; they can even automate it to some extent.”

3. Some consumers embrace advertising that teaches them something new.
Many consumers welcome the idea of learning new information from advertising. In fact, 24% of survey respondents said they love it when advertising teaches them something new. And nearly a third of electronics buyers said they welcome informational advertising. This kind of marketing can take many forms — including explaining the health benefits of certain foods, outlining how to finish a home improvement project, or running through the features of a handheld electronic device. Above all, it should be useful.

And the educational information consumers receive from your brand can move them forward on their consumer journey. Consumers are continually taking in information and turning the data into buying decisions, so brands would be wise to become part of that educational cycle by providing information their audience finds truly helpful.

If you would like to learn more about how information is propelling the consumer journey forward and other insights provided by our report, click here.