Every once in a while, we like to share what we’ve been up to,  including how our research engagements have helped our clients achieve their business goals and some of the lessons learned. This case study highlights W5’s qualitative approach to Consumer Journey mapping for a retail industry client to help uncover the unique and complex realities, needs, obstacles and motivations in the shopper’s path-to-purchase.

Shoppers have many choices as to when, where and on what they choose to spend their money, and numerous factors play into their decision making. Attitudes and behaviors are greatly influenced by culture, by context, and yes, by marketing. When exploring the consumer journey it is important to assess and explore all these facets holistically and comprehensively to reveal authentic paths-to-purchase. Just as the path has many steps, so should the research methodology which is why W5 employs a qualitative approach – both immersive/ethnographic (in-person) and virtual (online) – that ‘checks-in’ with the consumer before, during and after they shop, to determine their fluid hierarchy of needs, pain points and ultimate purchase triggers.


A leading American discount shoe retailer wanted to better understand the context in which their target consumers make purchase decisions and leverage possible triggers and touchpoints involved in their journeys to improve consumer relevance and drive sales.


W5 engaged target consumers in several strategic markets using a three-step complementary approach designed to capture the entirety of the shoe-shopping journey including key motivations, triggers and touchpoints. The approach included Online Journals (pre-shop), Shop-Along Interviews and In-Store Intercepts (during shop), and Webcam Interviews (post-shop). The juxtaposition of immersive/ethnographic and virtual methodologies allowed for real-time, in-context observation of the path-to-purchase as well as asynchronous conversations that afforded consumers the time and flexibility to fully reflect and respond to areas of questioning. Combined, these methodologies capture steps leading up to purchase (e.g., context, motivations), the purchasing moment (e.g., retail messaging, purchase triggers), and steps taken post-purchase (e.g., sharing on social media) revealing crucial brand touchpoints to encourage action.


By employing complementary and iterative qualitative methodologies that assessed the path-to-purchase triggers and barriers, communication strategies, media channels and the competitive landscape, W5 mapped the consumer journey and provided deep and actionable insight into brand affinity, awareness and permission as well as target consumer motivations, barriers to inform product development, messaging strategies and the retail experience.

Spotlight is a special feature of the W5 Blog showcasing W5 consultants’ approach to designing marketing research studies, creating engaging deliverables, and informing strategy. For more information on W5’s approach to qualitative or quantitative research contact:

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