The changing buying patterns of consumers and why you should be making use of Social Media.

After reading a recent article ‘The Purchase Funnel is no More”. I did not expect to be struck with a sense of my own predictability. The article discusses the way consumers look for information to assist them in making decisions about what to buy rather than just accepting what a company chooses to tell them.

This approach completely rang true for me. As an example, after my daughter was born we needed to buy a car seat. Of course the main concerns were that it was safe and, as we were buying it in the UK to bring back to Kenya, it needed to stand the test of time.

At no point during the whole decision making and buying process did I go into a shop. Initially I looked at well know brands that my friends had for their kids and compared prices on line but I was not completely happy with any of these. Eventually I turned to Which Magazine which had all of the car seats that I had been considering and a couple of much less well known brands. It was at this point that I also started to look at customer feedback and reviews on various websites. Ultimately the car seat that I ended up buying was from a brand I had never heard of and a design that was also relatively unusual. What sold me were the customer reviews and very high safety scores the car seat was given by independent assessors.

So in terms of the article I realised:
– I am incredibly predictable in my buying patterns!
– The company I bought the car seat from would never have made the sale if it wasn’t for third party review sites and more specifically other customer feedback

How does this buying experience relate to Kenya? I believe that it is less clear cut. There is often less choice, less information available and less opportunity to buy from the comfort of your own home. For example when looking for new office furniture I started with the internet to find companies where I could go and look at furniture. One website did have some of their stock on line but not all of it which still made a visit to the shop necessary.

Even in Kenya therefore I am increasingly looking for additional information on line (who wants to traipse all the way down Mombassa Road to sit in traffic for 4 hours).

While customer reviews and feedback are much less prominent on company websites in Kenya than they may be in the UK there are still other ways to find out information about what customers think of services. In particular think of service industries such as mobile phone providers, KPLC, and internet providers. What these companies have recognised is the meteoric rise in social media within Kenya – Twitter being the main example. They have also realised that whether they engage with this medium or not people will talk about them anyway – note Kenya Powers official Twitter account versus #KPLC.

Companies of all sizes must have an approach to regularly reviewing and placing positive content on Twitter (and other relevant forms of social media). To draw people to their brand and also to ensure that Twitter is not only an outlet for people to complain about your brand and services.

So is the purchase funnel no more in Kenya – not exactly. Does the new model of decision making and purchasing set out in the article apply, yes to a degree at present and can only apply more so in the future.

Are you ready?

Sam Crosthwaite – Client Service Manager

Purchase Funnel