consumer behaviour

Consumer decision journey

6 steps for more accurate & actionable consumer decision journey insights


Nearly all consumer decision journeys have shifted since the COVID-19 crisis – new journeys have emerged, while others have been reshaped.  As malls emptied in Asia, e-commerce and other digital trends were accelerated, while small neighbourhood stores also did well.

With so many paradoxical changes, an abundance of online and offline triggers, touchpoints, transitions, and interactions, how can brands gain clarity here and take action to influence their decisions?

SKIM, an international insights agency specialising in decision behaviour, has developed a new Customer Journey Mapping insights approach to tackle this challenge – to offer brands clarity on the What, Where, why, When, and How of today’s multifaceted (and messy) consumer decision journeys.  The resulting insights have been instrumental in helping brands align marketing investments to the most impactful touchpoints.

Based on our experience, here are six steps we recommend that help identify and prioritise the most important decision journeys for your brand.

  1. Examine what you can impact: Select potential journey touchpoints to optimise

15 is a good target number of touchpoints when starting to map your consumer decision journey. More touchpoints can add complexity to the connections, which may overwhelm the implementation and execution of the strategy, while fewer may risk missing important areas and pathways.  Include decision touchpoints across offline, online, mobile, and omnichannel activities.


They should be discernible from other touchpoints, likely to be impactful, and actionable.  We often recommend using qualitative research or data reduction to develop this list.

  1. Capture stated and behavioural consumer data to map the journey: Uncover the frequency, sequence, and importance of touchpoints

Once you have chosen the touchpoints to assess, the next step is to quantify the impact and importance of each touchpoint on the consumer’s overall decision journey. Calculate how much of a role each touchpoint plays in the final decision using sequence analysis and robust predictive modelling.


A rigorous modelling approach is critical to accurately assess the impact of digital behaviour here.  Much has been written about the ‘messy’ shopper journey, so it is important that the model can handle multiple journey possibilities.

A consumer’s decision journey is non-linear in nature and context-driven (mobile, location, occasion, social media, etc).  For the most accurate insights, journey model development should include passive metering and digital tracking behaviour analysis to fill in the ‘real-world’ behavioural gaps and find granular insights for implementation.

The data you uncover in this step will provide input for developing journey clusters.

  1. Uncover unique and actionable decision journey clusters: Identify like-minded consumers

We recommend using clustering techniques to capture like-minded consumers.  Clusters differentiate journey types and the experiences your customers engage in as they move through paths-to-purchase.  Many consumer journey clusters involve a defining online component, either for information, or searching or recommendations. We expect this to be a permanent change in many journey models.

Clustering helps identify the What, Where, Why, When, and How of shopper journeys.

  1. Visualise the decision journeys landscape: Size the clusters within your total market

Once you have journey clusters, it helps to type, visualise, and size the various journeys and their channel membership. Sizing the meaningfully different journeys helps you understand how many targetable journeys exist, how prevalent they are, and what channels are most important for each journey.


  1. Prioritise which journeys to target for your brand: Analyse which clusters will deliver the most economic potential and capturability

The next step will be to identify your brand’s potential to capture market share. To maximise the ‘actionability’ of this consumer decision journey exercise, you will need to capture the relationship among key metrics in the journey model, including:

  • Economic potential: Each journey’s potential value to your brand
  • Brand capturability: Your brand’s potential ability to acquire each journey


This is essential for both strategic and tactical execution. Using quad maps can help visualise this prioritisation.

  1. Activate and unlock decision journey insights: Conduct interactive cross-functional workshops

After uncovering today’s decision journeys, the last step will be to ensure they work for your team. Socialisation and activation are critical for successful marketing to new journey segments.  This step is even more important than in the past because the new, or reshaped, journeys will be more complex and may be unfamiliar to your team.

Consider interactive workshops to improve stakeholder alignment on strategic and tactical plans. In addition, interactive dashboards can help bring the insights to life and ensure marketing and brand teams can explore new scenarios for reaching your target consumers.


In Asia, online and offline touchpoints work simultaneously as ecosystems more and more – for example in China, where Alibaba and Tencent cover everything from digital and social media, to entertainment, e-commerce, and even physical retail. We expect this trend to spread across Asia with players like Reliance/Jio in India or Grab in Indonesia. Each of these ecosystems have their strengths and limitations.



Asian consumers are changing their habits and behaviours very rapidly. They are choosing – or being forced to choose – different ways of exploring, discovering, and buying products. Brands should untangle these journeys and create strategic partnerships with the most relevant media and retail partners and ecosystems to come out as winners.

SKIM’s Decision Journey Mapping offers a sophisticated approach to understanding the implications of specific touchpoints and sequences of actions along the path to purchase. Leading brands around the world have shifted to this journey modelling approach for a more accurate view of today’s consumer decision journey.

By Michael Hetherington LinkedIn and Vinay Rao LinkedIn at SKIM Singapore

mobile research

Understanding Consumers through Their Mobile Activity

\"mobileA consumer’s thoughts, preferences, and desires can be determined through their online search, browse, stream and surf activity.

In the history of marketing, there has never been a more direct, intimate, and current window into the soul of consumers than their online behaviour. In Asia, ‘online’ means mobile, and therefore the smartphone is the gateway to understanding the Asian consumer. Passive metering is the aggregation of this data for research and measurement purposes. Everything a consumer does on their phone leaves a digital trail, and passive metering enables marketers to follow those trails by aggregating information about every website visited, app used, term searched, media streamed, influencer followed, and social media engaged with on monitored devices.

Harvesting marketing gold

This information is pure gold to marketers, and, like gold, its allure has encouraged many mining methods. Some nefarious means have led to public relations fiascos that can both enrage consumers and lead to huge fines.

The brand-safe approach to harvesting this data is opt-in panels of consumers, who give very conscious consent to sharing this very personal data. But this approach can be expensive, difficult, and risky.

The challenges of the traditional passive metering approach

Recruiting panels is hard enough, but the real work with passive metering panels is in compliance monitoring and retention. The traditional approach to passive metering is to gather every morsel of data from each phone, regardless of the differing tolerance levels of the consumers or their phones. The trade-off for this comprehensiveness in mobile-focused projects is phone burden in terms of battery, CPU, memory, and broadband. In emerging markets, smartphones are the lifelines, the sole connection to the grid, for many consumers. The greater the monitoring methodology’s burden on the phone, the greater the challenge and cost to panel recruitment and retention. The panel expense combined with client budget restraints leads to short-term studies with small panels, which defeats the real promise of passive metering.

Add to the panel expense the cost of licensing and integrating the survey, monitoring, and reporting technology, along with the project management and operations costs and the significant project failure risks, and it is easy to see why many brands have shied away and how this has prevented passive metering from achieving its full potential for consumer insights.

Unlocking commercial viability

The key to achieving the consumer insights passive metering enables in a commercially viable way is to monitor large panels continuously, focus data harvesting on critical data only, syndicate the data streams to lower the costs for all clients, and enable each client to meet their unique needs through custom extras like surveys targeting the exact consumer profile or mobile behaviour of interest, measuring the reach and effectiveness of specific internet, TV, radio, or OOH advertisements, or collecting and adding metadata to pictures of products, places, or life moments uploaded by participants.

The People Data Company (PDC) is helping marketers break through these barriers by providing large, continuous panels across emerging market nations, with a specific focus on mobile shopping activity in its Mobile Shopper Monitor service.

This approach allows clients to select the consumer profile they wish to analyse in increments of 500 consumers, select the specific behaviours they wish to see from which apps and sites, and pre-program surveys triggered by specific mobile actions immediately. For example, if a consumer orders a meal without a beverage, a survey can ask them why, immediately. If a consumer changes SIM cards and then streams music, a survey can ask them why they prefer that SIM for that purpose. If a consumer selects an item on one marketplace or food delivery app, a pop-up survey can ask if they would buy another item if offered a better deal.

Better, faster, cheaper insights

To address marketers’ increasing need for better, faster, cheaper insights, PDC presents both the syndicated mobile activity data and each client’s custom data like survey responses and advertisement reach measurements on interactive dashboards. These enable DIY analysis with dynamic filtering and cross-tabbing, as well as one-click print to PowerPoint and/or downloading of the raw data. Scheduled downloads of custom formatted files and API connections enable each marketer to get the data they need, when they need it, and how they need it to support their decision-making processes.

Fulfilling the potential of passive metering across SE Asia

PDC launches Mobile Shopper Monitor in October in Indonesia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Expansion will continue in other SE Asian nations before year-end.

Making passive metering more actionable for clients and less burdensome for consumers will enable this powerful technology to finally fulfil its potential effectively and economically for clients, and painlessly, transparently, and ethically for consumers.

By Greg Lipper LinkedIn, CEO, People Data Company, Inc.

Optimise Your E-Commerce Strategies for Disrupted Consumer Behaviour


A massive acceleration in online activity has been one of the most obvious changes to consumer behaviour during the COVID-19 crisis. Whether or not consumers revert to old habits and choices will depend on whether the new experience is a good one or not.

With increased comfort levels for online shopping, forced trials of new brands, and wider consideration sets available online, how do you ensure your online strategies are optimised for this new reality?

“If shoppers who normally choose your brand have been forced to try other brands, how do you win them back?”


Four ways to win online

  1. Optimise omnichannel strategies for search and purchase

How will familiarity and reliance upon online search and purchase affect long-term behaviour and in-store buying habits? Which channels, triggers, and touchpoints will be more or less influential?

The COVID-19 disruptive change in behaviour requires a reassessment of omnichannel search and purchase strategies.

Forced brand substitutions resulting from the COVID-19 crisis are likely to prompt more deliberate information-seeking. For example, we see consumers turning to social media for social connection, but they’re also seeking referrals for new products and services. And we expect mobile voice search via digital assistants to be used more often for in-store research, such as comparing prices and searching for broader product choices.

Consumers will demand a more sophisticated, seamless, and integrated omnichannel experience in order to satisfy their needs.

Tip: Consider how you adapt your consumer journeys and product promos for an evolving omnichannel world. Can you use geofencing and/or push notifications on shoppers as they enter brick-and-mortar stores?

  1. Optimise digital content for conversion

The acceleration in online shopping and research has been one of the most visible changes that has occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether or not the choices that consumers make during the crisis become a new habit, understanding online consumer behaviour will be increasingly important in the future.

What type of content and visuals are best at grabbing consumers’ attention?

When you know which stimuli maximise click-through and add-to-basket rates, you can develop content that attracts, engages, and converts consumers online. To effectively optimise content for online retailer sites, consider the following:

  • Category or search pages: Does your content have enough stopping power? Are consumers able to find your products?
  • Product detail page: Is your content engaging? Does it clearly communicate the product offer? Would it convince consumers to buy the product?

Tip: Develop research-informed guidelines for your digital content (e.g. headings, images, videos, and text). Consistent guidelines help make digital content creation more efficient, effective, and benefit your retailers as well. And don’t forget to make sure your content is optimised for mobile.

  1. Optimise your online assortment and pricing strategy

As online competition intensifies, assortment, pricing, and promotions will be key. You’ll want to retain new customers gained through a crisis-driven forced trial, as well as win back formerly loyal customers forced to try your competitors. Speed and agility are key.

To optimise your online strategy, we recommend you:

  1. Optimise your assortment by channel. Consider which bundles, packs, or configurations will drive sales through online retailers vs grocery store websites vs brick-and-mortar stores. Determine how shopper behaviour varies between click-and-collect services and subscription services.
  2. Know which promo formats are most effective. Coupons may drive conversion on one site, while multipack offers have more impact elsewhere.
  3. Identify the impact of pricing and pricing format on consumer choices. Unlike in-store shopping, price format plays a surprisingly important role online. You should uncover what holds true for your products.

Tip: Ask yourself if you have the right tools to achieve an agile pricing and assortment strategy. What are your data sources? Do you have access to shopper simulators that can help you create ‘what-if scenarios’?

  1. Build a mobile-first, digital research toolbox

To win online, you must first uncover what truly drives online decision-making for your brand. Unfortunately, popular online retail and comparison sites don’t readily share behavioural data on consumer activity. An online shopping simulator can help you understand how consumers search, filter, and shop online in a replicated online environment.

Use a simulator to test your online product communications, assortment, pricing, ads, and promotions in a safe and secure environment – and get specific, actionable insights and guidelines as a result.

With so many significant behavioural shifts taking place, you may be wondering what the omnichannel marketplace will look like from one day to the next. You are not alone. In uncertain times, the most effective branding decisions will be rooted in solid, behavioural data.

By Michael Hetherington LinkedIn, APAC Director at SKIM