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They call the process the “messy middle”

Making a choice as a buyer has become increasingly complex due to the amount of information available. No surprises there. So how do we get to grips with understanding what our customers are doing?

Data scientists at Google have had a grandstand view of the process for years, and yet even they conclude that buyers often shift their purchasing intent unpredictably. They call the process the “messy middle”, lying between the initial trigger and the final purchase, frequently driven by previous experiences and perceptions about brands and products. It appears that there’s a cyclical process of exploration and evaluation, where buyers weigh their options. If a product doesn’t fit, they continue their search; but they can also bypass this stage for habitual or impulsive buys.

Google has published a couple of papers on this, which might well be of interest to readers wanting to understand the buying process. Their findings suggest marketers should maintain a strong brand presence, shorten the gap between interest and purchase, and apply behavioural science thoughtfully to guide buyers.