Consumers, Retailers, and the Journey to Purchase

Welcome to the Movers and Shakers podcast. Join us as industry leaders and experts discuss important marketing topics and share actionable insights and unique perspectives on the latest marketing, strategies, technology, and trends.

Meet Jennifer Renaud

Jennifer Renaud, SVP and CMO of Masonite, has spent her career building brands at large enterprise companies like Microsoft and Oracle. She is currently tackling evolving a 100-year-old brand, Masonite, and changing what doors mean to consumers. 

*The following content has been adapted from V12’s Movers and Shakers Podcast

Understanding Consumers, Retailers and the Journey to Purchase

Host: You’ve really identified an opportunity to take what is sort of an invisible product, the doors in your house, and really put the consumer in much more of a prominent position in how they choose their doors and how they relate to them. So, can you talk about that? What is the thought process that got you there and how did all this happen?

Jennifer: I have to give all the props to Howard, our CEO. After he started, he hired a research firm to do some research on understanding what the consumer influences were on the buying process. The discovery was far more influential than anyone had thought – especially if you’re thinking about residential remodel – something that’s happening really, truly before and after the move. It’s a time where people are far more thoughtful about it and understand the segmentation of the audiences. 

There are some buyers who are just going to buy based on price and availability and some who are going to be super focused on design and really curating their home. So, if you think about the difference with that, that gives us an opportunity to think about how we engage differently. Not only with each one of those buyers, but it also helps us think about what our relationships are like in our routes to market and how we can engage in unique ways that are far more like a consumer goods company, and less like a building supply company.

Host: How do you connect all the links in the chain since doors are primarily sold through contractors, building supply stores, retailers, and other intermediaries? How do you put the consumer into that equation and manage the whole process and experience?

Jennifer: Well, it’s really understanding where the consumer actually influences the process. I’m going to use an analogy here. Think about direct-to-patient marketing, where you can only market when a patient has influence in the decision-making process. 

For example, if you’re being rushed to the hospital having a heart attack and you need a stent, you have no influence on that process. Right? It’s not like you’re going to stop the procedure and say, “Hold on a second. I’m trying to decide what kind of stent I want.” But, if you’re getting a knee replacement or a hip replacement, you’re going to have a much different conversation because it’s something that really is going to affect your lifestyle. You’re going to be thinking about something that’s major surgery and you’re going to talk with doctors and research your options online. Overall, you’re going to have much more involvement in the process.

In reality, that same thing is happening with the way homeowners, builders, interior design teams, and architects are thinking about their overall design piece. So, this is when they influence the process and is the time that we want to engage with them at the time that they are actually in-market.

So, you know, it gives us a great opportunity to think about what that journey looks like. We’ve had to do a ton of research on that buyer’s journey and understand when they’re online and offline, in-store and not in-store. We know when buyers are working with builders and contractors or not, and so we understand how all the parts are at play in order to drive demand for that product and make sure we win that point of sale.

Host: That’s a very complex journey and difficult to kind to track. We focus a lot on the journey to purchase and consumer behavior. Are you able to be reasonably precise in terms of understanding timing, the whole purchase process, and where that consumer might be in the journey at any given time? Are you able to get down to that level?

Jennifer: I can’t know because it’s an indirect selling model, primarily. It’s very difficult for us to know but I can do the research and continue to refine my research and then understand how we can best engage with people. I would say for us, it’s been a bigger research investment.

I think retailers have the benefit of really understanding where people are, especially if you’re online. You know exactly where people are in their buying journey, whether or not they’ve added something to a cart or not.

In an indirect model like I described using the medical device example, I don’t know which patients are going to see doctors and when they’re going to see them. But, I hope that when they do see the doctor for a hip replacement, they say, “I want this hip” and the doctor says yes. That way we are reaching each of them at the right time in their journey.

Host: Are you able to bring your channel partners along in this process? Are retailers either sharing information or are they able to fill in the gaps? I mean, clearly, you’ve got this incredibly precise understanding of the customer journey, the thought process, and so forth. Can retailers help with a behavioral lens, to determine where customers are precisely, or is that kind of too much to ask?

Jennifer: Well, it’s not too much to ask, because a lot of them are doing very similar research as well. Think about the larger retailers today that are selling in this space. Let’s just use the remodel space where we’re talking about the big box retailers that are out there. I think that they’re doing an amazing job in better understanding who is buying, what they’re buying, what the market basket looks like, seeing patterns in purchase, etc. I think that they’re doing some amazing work there and they do share some insights.

There’s deep detail that they’re not sharing, obviously, because it’s private to their business. That’s really their secret sauce, so I can completely understand why that would not be the case. And then, you know, depending on what we buy as a vendor in our research, we can also get access to additional information as well.

When I worked at Microsoft, I worked with one colleague who always describe data as a total embarrassment of riches, because you usually have a lot, and you really don’t have the faintest idea what to do with it.

I think having the expertise within the business to better understand how you actually connect the elements into something that might help you figure out when and where to engage properly at the lowest possible marketing cost to get the highest return is what we’re driving for all day long.

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