Adios Purchase Funnel, Hola ‘Purchase Pretzel’

The “purchase funnel” has always been something of a fiction or perhaps it’s better described as a theory. It has been a helpful way for marketers to organize their thinking about how consumers make buying decisions and how to target them accordingly. Yet actual consumer behavior has always been more complex and labyrinthine.

I had a conversation earlier this week with Walt Doyle, the former CEO of WHERE and now the head of PayPal’s Media Network. WHERE was acquired last year by eBay/PayPal. Doyle said the PayPal Media Network is dedicated to a truly multi-channel approach to consumer marketing and shopping.

As Doyle said in his post announcing the re-branding of Where Ads as the PayPal Media Network:

A consumer may begin their purchase journey in a store, on a phone, at their desktop, or on a tablet, then engage with the same brand or product across a multitude of different mediums and devices to discover, research, price check, etc. . .  The boundaries between the physical and digital world have disappeared and the purchase funnel has become a purchase pretzel! No longer is there e-commerce, offline commerce, m-commerce – there is simply commerce.

From “funnel” to “pretzel”

Doyle described this “new” process to me as the “purchase pretzel,” which I thought was a great concept. The term is his (the graphic is mine) and it better expresses (at least metaphorically) the convoluted route that consumers now take to purchase.

Marketers have had a siloed approach to marketing and attribution in the past. They now have to think in much broader ways about how all their channels work together. Rather than valuing the “last click” or the last the touchpoint before consumer purchase they need to consider all the ways that consumers can or may have been influenced along the way to the POS. This means lots of tracking and careful thought about landing pages — especially in mobile.

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4 Responses to “Adios Purchase Funnel, Hola ‘Purchase Pretzel’”

  1. Services says at

    Greg I totally agree! What a great concept, and yummy too!

    In all seriousness, it correctly points out how the traditional sales funnel isn’t relevant any more. The pretzel concept highlights the need for constant engagement and re-enforcement.

  2. Greg says at

    Yep. It’s a great metaphor

  3. Ascent Internet says at

    An interesting take on the current sales funnel.  Now where’s the nearest Auntie Anne’s? 🙂

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  5. Neal Cabage says at

    Yep, multi-channel / multi-touch definitely changes the equation.  I still think it is useful to think in terms of AIDA when action planning, but true use behavior is probably better reflected by a less linear visual model. 

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