The Moment(s) of Truth: A Panel Discussion on Winning at the Point of Purchase

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I had the pleasure of accompanying our founder Pete Sena to the 2015 Wharton Marketing Conference in downtown Philadelphia for his participation in the panel titled, “The First Moment of Truth: Winning at the Point of Purchase.”

The panel discussed the ever more complex path to purchase in a digital, mobile first world where the consumer journey is more fragmented than ever.  

What does it take to win at the point of purchase when it’s becoming increasingly difficult to narrow down just when that crucial moment will occur on the consumer’s journey and what brand interaction will be most efficient in galvanizing it?  

Sena was joined on the panel by Kerry Cavanaugh, a Senior Brand Director at Mars Chocolate of America, and Ale Coates, a global director of content deployment for Anheuser-Busch InBev.

Cavanaugh previously spent 10 years at Procter & Gamble managing global cosmetic brands, notably developing an enhanced in-store experience for CoverGirl. Coates’ background is in shopper insights, also for AB Inbev, and in brand management for General Motors.   

Panel moderator Sugirtha Stathis, a Wharton M.B.A. in Career Management, opened the forum by asking how the path to purchase has changed over the past five years.  

What followed was a spirited discussion amongst Sena, Coates, and Cavanaugh informed by the depth of their experience in broaching path to purchase challenges for some of the world’s largest brands and activations.

Some Key Observations:

  • Cavanaugh believes that marketers need to redefine what is a retail moment. No longer are retail moments limited to in-store interactions — if the consumer is researching the product beforehand, that’s a retail moment. If they are interacting with a digital experience before they go to the store, that’s a retail moment. The best stores will think of retail broadly to adjust to the transformed path to purchase.     
  • Coates posited that it’s more important than ever for brands to separate consumer, pre-store, insights from shopper, in-store, insights to understand what is driving purchases. When Coates joined General Motors 8 years ago, the path to purchase involved going to the dealer, looking at the car, and purchasing it from the sales rep. Now, consumers research beforehand on their browsers, apps, and in the “digital dealership”, walking into the physical dealership educated and already having made up their mind on the car they would like to buy. Coates stressed that it’s all about how quickly you can adapt to the consumer’s education and knowledge of the product so that you market in the most efficient way.  
  • Sena explored the fractured nature of today’s consumer journey and cited the need for marketers to reach consumers in what Google has deemed micro-moments, the intent-rich moments throughout the day in which we turn to our phone for on-demand brand interactions that satisfy our wants and needs the minute we have them. Given that experience and mindshare is the new currency, the ability for brands to design powerful digital experiences for consumers to interact with in these micro-moments will define the future success of marketing campaigns. Sena expanded that virtual and mixed reality will become crucial tools for designing multisensory digital experiences that incorporate familiar physical senses to further draw the consumer down the path towards purchase with memorable interactions.   

Powerful keynote speeches from Warby Parker Co-Founder Neil Blumenthal, Brodeur Partners CEO Andrea Coville, and Freshpet Co-Founder Scott Morris capped a great day of panels.

Thanks to Wharton for a great conference, looking forward to next year!  

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