The earlier customer path – AIDA (Awareness, Interest, Desire, Actions) would serve as a checklist for the advertising executives while designing the advertisements, and for sales executives when they approach a prospect. In this path, there was not much post-purchase and customer retention focus.
And then came the modified framework of 4A’s (Awareness, Attitude, Act and Act again) by Derek Rucker which extended the customer path beyond purchasing act, to post purchasing experience and re-purchase. In this pre-connectivity era, the customer’s attitude about a product was entirely based on awareness stage information.
Today in the connectivity era, Philip Kotler proposes a new framework to accommodate changes shaped by technology which is 5As of Customer Path (Aware, Appeal, Ask, Act, and Advocate). What has changed the connectivity era are:
- Customer “Attitude” toward a brand is influenced initially by brand communication and followed by the community surrounding the consumer to form the final attitude.
- In the pre-connectivity era, Loyalty is defined as retention and repurchase; in the connectivity era, Loyalty is defined as willingness to advocate a brand.
- Brand appeal is determined (stronger or weaker) by the ask-and-advocate relationship as consumers now actively connect with one another.
The 5A Consumer Path:
The first step of the customer path, where the customer gets exposed to the marketing communications, word of mouth, also recognizing and recalling the brand from past experiences.
Shortlisting of the brands from recent exposure and from older memories. Brands with exceptional factors are remembered and prioritized over others.
In the connected era, customers need confirmation from others before they act. The shortlisted brands are further researched by friends, family, media, and also from the brand itself. During the Ask stage, the customer research may switch between digital online and physical offline, which makes it necessary to understand the popular channels of consumer research and ensuring their presence in these channels.
A convinced customer in the Ask stage, will decide to act. Act stage includes purchase, consumption of the product, and post-purchase customer service interactions. Both positive and negative experiences get created during this entire stage.
Strong loyalty gets reflected through retention, repurchase, and advocacy to others. Active advocates recommend brands spontaneously and passive advocates defend the brand over a query or during negative advocacy.
The Customer Journey along the 5As is not always sequential. For example, a customer might come across a product or brand based on the recommendation by someone close to them and might end up directly at the Act stage (Purchase) skipping the awareness and appeal stage.
Depending on the customer situation the 5 stages might expand or narrow. At times, during the Ask stage customers might get introduced to more brands from their social circles, which might lead again to reevaluate the brand, going through the Awareness and Appeal stage. Time taken between the stages could be short for consumer goods, or longer for expensive goods eg. cars.
Understanding these stages and planning the marketing activity around the customer path, would help guide the customers towards purchase, re-purchase, and increase customer advocacy. Nutick BPromise Shopify Plugin is a Value Proposition tool that considers the New Customer Path – 5As and helps the brand to project its Unique Value proposition (Brand Promise) during “Awareness Stage”, makes the brand stand out during “Appeal Stage”, features to address customer’s “Ask Stage”, feedback mechanism to create a positive experience during the “Act Stage” and increase loyalty during “Advocacy Stage”.