Case Study

eComm Path to Purchase Research: Case Study for a Pet Food Manufacture


As ecommerce captures an increasing share of pet food sales, how should manufacturers adjust their marketing strategies?

Given C+R’s vast experience in the category, a leading pet food and treat manufacturer approached us for help understanding digital shopping behaviors in the pet food space. C+R was excited to develop a comprehensive multi-phase and multi-method research plan to address this objective.


You Can’t Optimize What You Don’t Understand

A leading pet food and treat manufacturer had recently conducted path to purchase research, but the research focused on the brick-and-mortar experience, so the client still knew very little about the online shoppers’ experience.

The team wanted to understand how to effectively attract and convert online shoppers but recognized that they lacked clarity on which page elements to focus on, how to prioritize their budget, and how to leverage the unique touchpoints and triggers of the digital shopping experience.


Exploring Digital Shopping Behaviors in the Pet Food Space

C+R conducted a comprehensive, multi-phase exploration of the online shopper journey using a variety of qualitative and quantitative research methods.

First, our online moderators conducted a 3-week immersive discussion which included an online shopping journal that recorded online shopping trips. Activities explored online shopping perceptions, etailers, behaviors, and pain points. Passive metering on participants’  mobile devices collected behavioral data on shopping frequency and habits (resources, search terms, sites visited, etc.) to ensure a comprehensive overview of routine behaviors.

Next, the team facilitated webcam shop-alongs to dig deeper into themes and behavioral patterns. Participants were tasked with a specific mission online, shopping as they normally would, while our moderators observed their navigation/decisions and probed the ‘whys’ behind shoppers’ choices to better understand decision-making.

Next, C+R recruited a group of shoppers to a central location test where they conducted a shopping mission while in-person eye-tracking software isolated eye-catching elements and blind spots as the participants shopped. 

Finally, we recruited a robust sample of online category shoppers (using Numerator) to participate in a survey. Attitudinal survey data was married with omnichannel behavioral data from Numerator, resulting in a holistic picture of attitudes and actual behaviors. The survey allowed researchers to quantify key learnings and prioritize means to influence the ecommerce shopper.

The result

Comprehensive Research Results in Impactful Insights

Our comprehensive research design delivered strategic areas of opportunity for the client’s brand portfolios and etail partners. The final report included:

  • a detailed description of ecommerce shopper behaviors including key purchase triggers, mindsets, and missions along with opportunities to leverage and disrupt activities to favorably influence brand choice across various touchpoints.
  • a framework for understanding the online shopping process and prioritizing key elements – from category to product pages, search bars to filters.
  • insights into shoppers’ carts and decision hierarchy including actionable disruptors and messaging opportunities to sway brand choice.
  • a visual depiction of the etailer landscape along with shopper choice drivers, delights, and frustrations.
  • actionable guidance on optimizing the post-shop experience to drive brand loyalty.

At the conclusion of the project, learnings were synthesized and shared in a single comprehensive report that seamlessly wove together qual and quant insights making it easy for the team to socialize the findings. Integrated video provided context and demonstrated typical path to purchase behaviors along with site elements that enhanced or disrupted the path.

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