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Customer journey and purchase motivation – The right information at the right time

Motives for actions and purchases are probably as diverse as mankind itself. They depend on our experiences, interests, emotions, and moods. However, such a complex array of influencing factors makes it difficult to work constructively in the field of marketing.

Therefore, there is a large demand for practical unifications and informative purchasing motive models.

Looking at the marketplace, there are different models. Some originate from science and try to transfer fundamental motive systems onto concrete questions of marketing practice, while others were developed in practice and ideally expanded and validated by scientific studies. However, regardless of where a motive model was created, it will always remain just a model.


A simplification of the real world.


A model is always only as effective as the data it was derived from. That is why one should always pay attention as to what one uses the model for. For example, to my knowledge, the "Limbic Model" of the Nymphenburg Group, a well-known model in the German-speaking area, originally stems from the field of brand management.

Since then, the model was also adapted for target group identification – which should not be a problem since there are extensive similarities between brand management and target group identification.
Despite demonstrable attempts, the Limbic Model has not been established in the field of personnel marketing so far. Here, conscious and rational considerations from prefrontal brain structures play an important role in the form of limbic impulses, which are very important in the retail sector. This is why the model often falls short.

740x400-CustomerJourney-02 Purchase Motivation Customer Journey

The customer journey: From the impulsive purchase to the well thought-out decision

Another division of marketing in which, in my opinion, the Limbic Model of the Nymphenburg Group falls short, is the so-called customer journey. This refers to the consumer’s journey, organized into loose cycles, that is traveled before a (purchase) decision is made. Years can pass between the first moment of realization that a certain brand even exists, the growth of interest, the desire to own the brand, the actual decision, and the implementation of this decision.
Or it can also be just a fraction of a second.

Because the entire customer journey can be implemented in a single touchpoint. When the customer is standing in front of the shelf, discovers the brand for the first time, and spontaneously decides to try it out – an impulsive purchase – the customer journey is reduced to a single touchpoint. But it can also be comprised of hundreds of touchpoints: an advertisement for the brand launch, an internet search for additional information, conversations with friends and acquaintances, recommendations, first considerations, the discovery of the brand in the supermarket, further investigations, the introduction of a redesign, etc.

It is precisely because the customer journey is so unpredictable and because the customer can be confronted with the brand at different times, that in my opinion it does not make sense to presuppose a (mostly) static motive of action, which the brand then has to cater to.

Major brands are characterized by their servicing various motives. At various points in time.

Motives over the course of time

First of all, let us take a look at the scientific "grandfather" of the Limbic Model, the Zürcher Modell der Sozialen Motivation (Zurich Model of Social Motivation). In my opinion, the biggest difference between the two models (although there may be many others!) lies in the explicit consideration of the changes in motivations.
Motives are dynamic.

For example, the excitation motive in the Zurich Model says that we like to make new experiences and try out new things. In this regard, it is related to the stimulation motive of the limbic model. The Zurich Model also says: when we continue to always seek new objects and enhance the experience, then every encounter with a new object, such as a new brand, changes our expectations and our needs – to the point where our curiosity is satisfied.

Taking it a step further: New objects can be exciting and awaken our curiosity, but when they reach us in a moment where we have experienced enough new things or if they are "too new", then they can potentially even frighten us. This may sound strange at first.

However, if you think about it a little more: do new brands really fail that often because they are superfluous? Or do they also partly fail because new brands are somewhat suspicious to us?

3-Figure1-1 Purchase Motivation Customer Journey

Figure 1: Zurich Model of Social Motivation

However, over time, more of the same becomes boring. To use the terminology of the Zurich Model – we become weary.

Up to the point where one needs some variety in their lives and needs to try something new.


To make a long story short: motives are dynamic!


Every piece of information influences us, sometimes more, sometimes less

Let us think practically: when I visit YouTube, what am I trying to obtain there? Do I want to learn something? In that case, it is important that I find the information I was looking for quickly. Here, a good search function is very helpful.

Do I want to be entertained for a bit? Distracted from everyday life? In that case, I do not always want to choose new videos (but definitely also don’t always the same videos that I already know), but I expect a certain amount of variety instead.

For precisely those moments, YouTube has implemented the autoplay function: when a video ends, a new one starts after a short amount of time. This happens without having to click anything or choose a video. I can just sit back and watch one video after the other. But in this example as well, too much will eventually lead to weariness. To give a concrete example, it usually does not take me very long when I am watching YouTube videos to go back to choosing videos myself or leaving YouTube altogether. Usually, the videos that YouTube chooses to present to me are junk that does not interest me to the point that it even annoys me.
My motivation is changing.

Within the scope of a customer journey, which covers many different touchpoints, it is relatively obvious that when a user sees an advertisement for the first time, he is not in the same motivational situation (even better: cannot be!) as at the time of the purchasing decision. When watching videos on YouTube, motivational changes are also understandable. However, the reason for this blog article – and the central message – is: even when interacting with a single website, the motivation of the user may change.

The quintessence: What I am doing wrong (and what I can learn from that)

Let’s look at a blog like OnPageMagazine. Most of the visitors will want to learn something new (excitation motive) or are hoping to find advice that will put them into a position to do things that they could not do beforehand (power motive). There are most likely also a lot of visitors by chance that were transferred from Google or Bing while searching for a specific term. However, there may also be some readers that browse through the whole web blog while looking for more valuable information or ones that return because the previous reading material paid off (reliability motive).
At least I hope so.

Here, on this first level already, it is clear that all three central motives of neuromarketing are represented. There is no exact target group if one does not actively cater to one.

740x400-1-CustomerJourney-03 Purchase Motivation Customer Journey

The first thing that is usually read is the title of an article. In this case, the heading consists of a mixture of buzzword bingo (customer journey, motivation) and teasers in the subheading. This is good for power seekers. On the other hand, this is bad for people that are strongly motivated by reliability and security, which can only make little use of this heading and will look for renowned alternatives. Thus, I would lose a large number of potential readers within the first second or even before clicking onto the article link.
Maybe I should have called the article: "Customer Journey – 10 tips on how to motivate your readers to continue reading".

The actual text begins with an introduction of models and their use in marketing. This part is extremely abstract. Those readers motivated by reliability (given that they are not already long gone) will find some familiar ideas here and may finally be somewhat motivated to stay and read on. The power seekers, however, will probably think: "Get to the point." and look for the fast forward button.
That is why it is so important to use subheadings and pictures to show which information can be found in which part of the text.

The users motivated by excitation think similarly in this case and will search for new and relevant information. My first paragraph, continuing with the YouTube example, should have probably been:
"Have you ever wondered why YouTube patronizes its users? And plays videos without asking?"
That would have been more diversified.
More exciting, in the words of the Zurich Model.

Instead, the really exciting findings in my article can be found at the end. Just before the end of the article, when I have already lost all the readers with short attention spans.

So, you see: I do not adhere to my own advice.
But hopefully you can also see that I have a very clear idea of my readers in my head.

You can’t please everybody

With the help of the methods of neuromarketing, you can examine which elements of a website address certain motives. You can measure how motives change depending on what was viewed.
And with this information, one can begin to optimize the customer journey.

If this is too laborious for you, you should start by feeding the curiosity of your readers to then enrich their new knowledge with facts. Because even the most curious reader can only digest a certain amount of new information.
It is much more important to integrate newly learned information into pre-existing knowledge.
Conversely, it can be useful to present a few facts first to win the trust of skeptical readers. The article should then end with a few examples and applications to set new impulses.

Because even the motivation of skeptical readers changes.

You can see which path I have chosen to follow.
I hope that it was not the wrong choice.

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Published on Oct 26, 2016 by Benny Briesemeister