I have grown tired of hearing agency after agency talk to me about the importance of the ‘sales funnel’ and how it effects consumers and brands. The problem I have with the conversation and with the idea of the ‘sales funnel’ is that it shows just how out of touch all these people are with modern consumers and branding. A few years ago I read an article that laid out a new model that I think gets the problem exactly right showing how the ‘sales funnel’ is obsolete and probably always was in favor of a brand loop.
The traditional way everyone thinks about how consumer engage with brands is a linear funnel where they go through the stages of being aware of a brand, putting it into consideration against other brands, making a purchase with that brand and then dropping out the bottom of the funnel where you then try to retain them and put them back into the top of the funnel. I have never thought this consumer model worked because people don’t use linear processes like this when it comes purchases and it never accounted for what happens when consumers become loyal to a brand.
The Brand Loop
The ‘brand loop’ model is one that I think gets the way modern consumers engage with brand exactly right. The loop illustrated how there is an outer loop where consumers go through a process similar to the ‘sales funnel’ where they evaluate, consider and buy a product. However the first key difference is the understanding that this is a constant processor variable length depending on the life of the product they are buying. If it is a consumer package good then it might happen every week when they go to the grocery store but if it is a car then it might happen ever 4 to 5 years. The other key difference here is the understand that if a brand gets things right then a different and smaller ‘loyalty loop’ happens where the consumer enjoys, bonds and advocates for the product. The loop also illustrates how if the brand continues to do things right and continues to provide value then the consumer will stay in the ‘loyalty loop’. It also shows how if they get it wrong then the consumer will jump out of the inner loop and go back into the broader consideration loop trying to find a new brand to bond with.
I hope that more agencies and more designer will start to understand this new model so they can build brands and brand strategies that will take advantage of this new understanding of consumers mindsets. It is only then when they know that brands can’t have one-dimensional communications and that you have to move consumers from one loop to another and then keep them there to succeed.