Purchasing online.

How to Use Qualitative Research for Insights at the Purchase Stage

At the center of the consumer buying process, purchasing is the main step to revenue and profit. The purchase stage is divided into two different phases: the decision to purchase and the purchasing process itself. Both require different marketing tools and qualitative insights.  


Purchasing Stage Attitude Requirements Marketing Collateral/Testing
Decision Engagement

Sense of security

Additional reinforcement

Product information, brand knowledge

Social media content, customer reviews

Brand information, retargeting or email reminders

Content research

Credit card purchase button

Free trial/live demo

Purchasing drivers analysis

Process Convenience and options needed Credit card, push button payment option,

Shipment/payment options, Fast-loading website, frictionless purchase and delivery

Free trial benchmarking

Test keystrokes

Transactional keywords

Strong Call to Action



Consumer Insights Must Focus on Key Decision Conversion Factors

At the purchase decision point, consumers have done their research and are aware of the product options available, including price and payment procedures. They just need to make up their minds: make the purchase, delay, or stop.

If potential buyers are hesitating, marketers must discover the key reasons that keep buyers from going forward, whether it is price, value, change in needs, or some other factor. Consumer insights in the decision stage are best drawn from surveys or in-depth interviews that focus on the customer journey.

Survey questions in the decision stage should focus on the purchase decision, including comparisons with competitor offerings and processes, product opportunities and challenges as perceived by the interviewee, and perceptions regarding price, value, and terms of purchase. Tools such as exit pop-ups for surveys and automated outreach to those who abandoned items in an online shopping cart work well to capture customer sentiment on the spot.

For online products, additional questions might revolve around the presentation of the product, including such queries as:

  • What feature does this product have/lack that matters most to you?
  • Do you feel that you have a good idea of what this product looks like/does from the description on the website?
  • How do the product images make you feel?
  • How do you think this product compares with other products you have seen online or in a store?
  • If you had to name one thing that would move you to purchase/reject this item right away, what would it be?

In addition to these consumer insights, it is important for marketers at this stage to also consider other factors that are actively influencing the purchase decision. For instance, Nielsen research has shown that 83% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers over advertising.  Similarly, well-known marketing consultant Philip Kotler notes that the final purchase decision may be interrupted by two factors: negative feedback from other users and the level of motivation the consumer has to accept that feedback.

Therefore, at the critical purchase decision stage, marketers should focus on providing influential collateral related to the opportunity that was created in the awareness stage. This collateral should include positive reviews and social media mentions, testimonials, discounts, and comparative assessments that show why a given company is the best choice to fulfill a particular need. The marketing collateral needs to be reinforced by a strong brand awareness, which will, in turn, increase the marketing and advertising impact.

Shopping online using a laptop

Insights into the Customer Purchase Process

The second part of the purchase stage involves the actual process of purchasing. Businesses that intend to remain competitive must be special attention to the voice of the consumer in this critical moment of the customer journey.

Friction in the purchase process can derail a sale quickly, causing cart abandonment in the case of online purchases and lost sales opportunities in any sales setting. Therefore, the process must be made as seamless as possible.

For instance, consider the case of online commerce. Once web visitors have decided they want to buy, the process must be convenient and completely intuitive. Beyond website speed and navigation, the focus here should primarily be on the transaction options – factors such as mobility, shipping, delivery, and payment need to be simplified to the point of being non-issues.

Further, the online customer journey needs to highlight transactional keywords that buyers are looking for when they are in the process of making a purchase.  These include actions such as buy, order, download, and demo. On the payment portion of the site, purchase buttons, credit-card input, shipping, and delivery fields should be easy to navigate.  

Insights at this stage should focus on key metrics that help measure the performance of the website and optimize its transaction components. Benchmarking may also show why competitive brands may be better positioned. Consumer insights can be drawn from both extensive user testing and navigation process monitoring – including testing CTA buttons aimed at prompting web visitors to complete a purchase.

Interview questions at the purchase process stage might include:

  • How easy was it to add items to your online shopping cart?
  • Were you surprised/disappointed/excited by any shipping or delivery options that were offered/not offered?
  • How secure did you feel the online payment process was?
  • Did you have to enter any personal information more than once during your purchase process?
  • Were all your options clearly outlined at every stage of the purchase process?
  • Were you satisfied with the length of time it took for your payment to be processed?

The Process Is Different for B2B Transactions

For B2B deals, the process may be somewhat different, but the end results are the same. Qualitative research can still be used to understand how decisions are being made at the critical purchasing stage. In many cases, B2B companies may utilize a third-party vendor who specializes in closed-lost conversations to conduct in-depth interviews (IDIs) to assess why decision-makers for a target account walked away from a B2B deal with a specific brand. By conducting multiple interviews with key decision-makers within an organization or decision-makers with similar titles or job descriptions at several different organizations, brands can discover patterns that may reveal areas for improvement in their products or services.

Get the Answers You Need with Discuss.io

No matter where consumers are on their customer journey, tapping into their thoughts and feelings about your brand will help you develop consumer empathy, build products and marketing campaigns that appeal to consumers, and build relationships with customers that last a lifetime.

Discuss.io is purpose-built by and for market researchers who want to build customer-centric brands. Our platform facilitates video interviews and online qualitative research and analytics. More than simply a video conferencing tool, Discuss.io helps researchers capture pivotal moments in consumer interviews and archive them in a searchable format for later consumption and collaboration organization-wide. Discuss.io captures the all-important voice of the consumer and makes that voice available to key stakeholders throughout your organization, all with the intent of driving better, more insightful, business decisions that will resonate with your customers and keep your brand top of mind.

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