Consumers are overwhelmed by the volume of choice and information they’re exposed to, and marketers’ relentless efforts to “engage” with them.
Their response to this overload has been two-fold: About 30 percent of consumers now anxiously embark on an open-ended purchase path, adding and dropping brands, caught in a loop and compelled to continue researching alternatives. Meanwhile, another 30 percent abandon the considered search altogether and simply zero in on a single brand. We call this latter path the “tunnel.” In our survey, the majority of tunnel purchasers were buying the product or service for the first time, so this wasn’t an expression of loyalty to a particular brand; rather it was a response to overload, a way to simplify what’s become a frustratingly complicated process. Either way, these 60 percent of consumers are responding to the bombardment in ways that can lead to poorly considered decisions — or no decision at all.