Posted by Alan Nazarelli ● Wed, Dec 02, 2020 @ 06:52 PM

Retiring AIDA: A New Model for the Buyer's Social Journey, Part I

Marketers often need to update their models and paradigms to keep up with changing consumer preferences and media.

A classic model is in serious need of updating. Marketing textbooks refer to the AIDA model. Briefly, it outlines the purpose of marketing as four consecutive steps: Attention. Interest. Desire. Action. A good marketer understands that you have to garner attention before you can generate interest; you have to create interest before you can evoke desire, etc.the new buyer's journey for an appified world

Does the model apply in the digital and social age?

The question is what can, and should, replace it? Nothing seemed to have emerged till recently when we came across the Buyer's Journey Hourglass from Duct Tape Marketing by John Janthsch. 

This model, in our opinion, is AIDA for the social age. I have included sketches of both models here for comparison.

aida       aida_hourglass

What are some of the elements of the new model that are key in crafting messaging and communication?

1. Trust: the model incorporates trust. An important element that AIDA did not address. We now know that trust is an important aspect in the purchase process. Could AIDA have missed something that important? Trust was always important and somewhat implicit in the past. Today, however, trust is paramount. There are too many elements that make up the total consumption of the product, or the total customer experience including ongoing support especially in the case of technology products and services. Moreover consumers are more discerning, much more interested in the quality and origin of ingredients etc. And significantly more exposed to community opinion and thinking. 

2. What’s under the hood: Not specifically called out in the hourglass model, but we would like to add it here as a subset of Trust. What is under the hood is extremely important to them. In previous posts, I have discussed how marketers often ignore "under the hood" components when telling their story-they do so at their own peril. Nothing establishes trust quicker than giving the consumer a peek at what's under the hood. 

3. Heritage:  Also another important aspect that engenders trust. My last blog post focused on the Blue Moon orange and how telling the story of why Blue Moon beer is served with an orange slice, how it complements the orange peel that is used in making the beer and how the company takes painstaking effort in education bartenders all over the country on the correct way to slice and serve the orange slice. Attention to detail that the company has undertaken anyway that needs to be part of the story. In this case, an under-utilized asset if it had not been incorporated into the band story 

Continuing on with the buyer journey....

4. The shape of the hourglass is also significant. The Know and Like stages are broader and happen in the context of the social community at large. The hourglass starts to narrow at trust. Trust building happens at the community level AND the marketer need to parlay that into individual trust. Try and buy are mainly individual one to one connections with the seller.

5. The hourglass expands again to Repeat and Refer, although I would have put "refer" before "repeat" or at least that should be the goal of the marketer. Previous research has shown that there is a point in the purchase process at which the buyer is most self-satisfied with her decision. This moment of maximum satisfaction (MMS) happens very shortly after the purchase has been made. It is at the MMS that the referability potential is the highest.

6. One final point: Not specifically called out in the Hourglass model but an important distinction in the two models. Text books referred to AIDA as a selling model. We know now that in the social age, we don’t sell, we enable buyers to buy. Hence the buyer’s journey and not the sellers. We have been shopping for our car recently and it became apparent (and a big change in when I last shopped for a car) that sellers even in low tech venues such as car showrooms have recognized a shift in their role-understanding and making clear that they understand that their job is to enable you to buy and that you have at your disposal significantly more information assets to draw from than the knowledge of the salesperson.

Please post a comment if you have interesting insights from your own experience to share.


Alan Nazarelli is President & CEO of Silicon Valley Research Group, a global market research and strategy development firm focused on the needs of technology companies.

 Read Part II.


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Topics: Customer Anthroplogy, Buyers Journey