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Online consumer behavior analysis methods

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Why do customers leave the site, even when they find what they were looking for? Why are some products desirable and others disappearing from the market? The answers are found in the behavior of consumers, the analysis of which allows us to learn about their needs and respond to them.

Analyzing customer behavior and drawing appropriate conclusions will make you offer even better products in a way that suits your customers. You will improve their shopping path, improve their website, and create advertisements and content that evoke emotions and drive them to action.

This text will learn what the EKB model, Fogg’s behavioral model, and messy middle model are. You will learn about the types of consumers based on research, the types of consumer data that the internet will provide you, and ways to analyze online consumer behavior. Finally, you will read about the tools used in neuromarketing and the shiny packaging of chips that make shoppers feel guilty.

How do consumers make decisions?

First, some numbers. Online shopping is gaining momentum, as evidenced by numbers such as those in Omni-commerce. I buy conveniently 2021 “prepared for the Chamber of Electronic Economy.

  • 84% of internet users buy online (in 2020 it was 72%).
  • 66% of e-shoppers to visit a brick-and-mortar store are encouraged by information found on the Internet.
  • 56% of internet users use modern shopping solutions, such as product videos.
  • 54% of e-shoppers shop via mobile devices.

According to data from the report “E-commerce in International SEO Agency 2020. Gemius for e-Commerce UAE” prepared by Gemius and the Chamber of Electronic Economy, consumers are motivated to shop online: 24/7 availability (82%), buying without having to go to the store (78%) and unlimited selection time (72%). However, shopping online is not always so colorful because e-consumers face obstacles such as high delivery costs or intrusive advertisements for previously viewed products.

When are we talking about consumer behavior? That’s when consumers choose, buy, use and dispose of products and services. In this way, they satisfy their needs. Much research has been done over the years, and many models of consumer decision-making have been developed. Below is the EKB model, Fogg’s behavioral model, and information about the Google study.

EKB model

The classic model of EKB consumer decision-making (named after the authors: Engel-Kollat-Blackwell) was created in 1968 and assumes that the consumer goes through five stages:

  1. recognizing the problem,
  2. looking for information,
  3. assessment of opportunities,
  4. purchase decision,
  5. post-decision assessment.

The consumer recognizes the problem when they determine the need for the product, e.g., having a new, safe car for a family of 5 or running shoes, without which another training session will not be possible. If the consumer already knows what he needs, then they search for information about it. Advertising and other people’s opinions can make a big difference at this stage. What’s next? It evaluates and compares the products it takes into account, e.g., price and brand opinions. This is when he looks for reviews and uses price comparison websites. In the fourth step, he chooses one of the products and buys. However, during this time, he can change his mind and eventually buy another product. There can be many reasons that may affect the change of decision, e.g., no product in the store. The last step is product evaluation (opinion) related to experiencing it.

Today we know that the purchasing path is not so obvious, and a lot happens between the need and the opinion about the product.

Fogg’s behavioral model

The Fogg Behavior Model (FBM), i.e., the Fogg behavioral model (its author is the American scientist Brian Jeffrey Fogg), assumes that behavior takes place when at the same time there is an appropriate motivation, possibility, and prompts (in 2017, the author of the concept changed ” trigger “on” prompt “). The model is defined by the formula B = MAP (Motivation, Ability, Prompt). If the behavior does not occur, at least one item is missing.

Motivation may be related to, for example, belonging to a group (acceptance) and positive feelings. The second element concerns the ability to act – the easier it is to do something, the better. The opportunity consists of 5 factors: time, money, exercise, intellectual effort, and routine. However, the third element, i.e., a hint, is, for example, a login button to the page or a notification.

Messy middle

Together with The Behavioral Architects, Google conducted research aimed at understanding how consumers process information and what influences them making these and not other decisions. You could say they wanted to see what was happening in the middle of a messy shopping journey.

Messy middle (translated as chaotic middle, sloppy middle, etc.) is a space full of unlimited choice in which buyers use cognitive abbreviations. Consumers make decisions chaotically. It turns out that between “triggers” (e.g., advertising and previous experiences) and “purchase,” there is also “evaluation,” “exploration” – states in which consumers look for information and evaluate them – and “exposure” and “experience.” “Exposure” is the sum of brand and product awareness, advertisements, opinions – it is not a stage but a background. In turn, “experience” is the customer’s experience with the product or service they bought. If a brand provides a good experience, that alone can become a trigger.

You can read more about the messy middle on the Google website: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/consumer-insights/consumer-journey/navigating-purchase-behavior-and-decision-making/ (here you can find a link to the Decoding Decisions report . of the messy middle ) and in the article: How to navigate messy middle in e-commerce?

Types of consumers – are your customers among them?

We are all consumers, but we do not all buy the same way.

The results of the FMCG Brands We Shop survey, included in the 2021 FMCG Brands We Shop by Blix & Kantar report, say that 25% of buyers are prudent and pragmatic. What does it mean? For example, he likes to buy products from famous brands, but does not avoid new products, often looks for promotions, and the brand and price are more important than ecology. Prudent and pragmatic are the most numerous group identified in this study.

19% of shopping enthusiasts often go shopping, have their favorite brands and stores. Forced shoppers (14%) do not like shopping, Catholics (14%) look for the right bargains and prices, conscious connoisseurs (12%) plan their purchases and care for the environment, the ecocentric basket (10%) includes International users and ecological products. The smallest group, 6%, are home-grown shoppers organized, often looking for promotions but not looking for new products.

You can find more information about each type and reach them and information about the researched product categories in the report. The study was carried out using the quantitative CAWI (Computer Assisted Web Interview) method on users of the Blix application.

The types of consumers, this time global, are presented by Euromonitor International in the report Understanding the Path to Purchase.

source: Understanding the Path to Purchase, 2021 Global Consumer Types

Undaunted Striver is the largest group of all types. For example, this type of consumer can spend money to save time and values ​​products and services tailored to their needs. What are your customers like? What do they buy, why, and how often? What do they think about your products? Or maybe they don’t like shopping, and you need to make this process as easy as possible for them?

Online consumer behavior analysis methods

Why is it worth analyzing consumer behavior? The analysis of consumer behavior examines the way they make decisions, allows them to understand their needs, motivations, choices, and decisions. Knowing how consumers behave, online stores can, for example, create more effective marketing campaigns, optimize content and take care of the usability of the website. More effective advertising campaigns mean greater recognition and sales, optimized content affects the website’s position in Google, and the usability of the website improves the user experience. In addition, the analyzes provide information useful in distribution, price management, and communication with customers.

What influences consumer behavior? These can be, for example, psychological (e.g., beliefs and values), social (e.g., family), geographic (e.g., place of residence), personal (e.g., age) factors.

What consumer can data be obtained from the internet? I will quote a division from the monograph “Marketing research in the digital economy” edited by Krystyna Mazurek-Łopacińska and Magdalena Sobocińska. These data are: demographic data (e.g., age and gender), behavioral data (e.g., clicks, time spent on the website, participation in webinars), transaction data (e.g., purchase history and average order value), declarative data (e.g., opinions about products), data on users of the mobile application (e.g., frequency of using the application) and data from the offline channel obtained thanks to the use of beacons.

There are many methods and tools for analyzing consumer behavior, including:

Customer segmentation

Customer segmentation is dividing customers into groups based on common features, which may be, e.g., demographic data – this type of data works well in segmenting B2C customers.

Customers can be segmented based on their behavior (taking into account, for example, the frequency of purchases and the average value of the shopping cart), the technology they use, or the level of involvement, e.g., some customers bought only once, regular e-shop visitors and buyers only during the sale.

Customer Journey Map

Already knowledge of the target audience can help you reach the right people, but you need to go further, and the group is divided into segments and then extract their persona. The next step is to get the data. Analytical tools, such as Google Analytics, Google Search Console, Yandex Metrica will help in this. Having a goal, data, and knowledge about customers, you can prepare a Customer Journey and Customer Journey Map, i.e., a customer journey map.

On such a map, you can see, among others: how the client behaves, what his experiences are, where he encounters problems. Touchpoints on the map show where the interaction with the company takes place, e.g., the first contact with the company may take place on social media. The touchpoints will vary depending on the target group, segments, and Customer Journey.

Business Intelligence

Business analysis tools, i.e., Business Intelligence, are used to understand data. This data allows conclusions to be drawn and decisions to be made. Extracting information from data can be done using marketing dashboards and data presented in a graphic form. An example of such a tool is Google Analytics. How else? For example, thanks to predictive analytics that use data to predict and respond to future events. Another issue is the integration of marketing tools, e.g., marketing automation tools. BI analysis also includes social media analysis, also known as social listening. A tool that does not need to be discussed in this context is BRAND24.

Quantitative research

Quantitative research answers questions related to quantity, so: how much? Who? If?

Quantitative research over the Internet is carried out using the CAWI (Computer-Assisted Web Interview) method, i.e., an online survey. This method is used to study many people, such as public opinion polls or brand awareness surveys. Data from quantitative research are analyzed and interpreted using statistics, so different from qualitative research. The question of “how much?” concerns the number of customers, visits to the website, conversions, etc. It is good to compare quantitative data with qualitative data. The questions asked in qualitative research are intended to help you understand, so they are: how? What? Why?

Moderated and unmoderated remote usability testing

A remote unmoderated study will be the result of a remote unmoderated study, for example, a heatmap, which will show how users use the website. During a remote moderated survey, user activity is tracked in the presence of the moderator. According to the Nielsen Norman Group, remote moderated usability testing may be a better solution than remote unmoderated if we need rich data and deep insight.

Digital body language

Digital Body Language is the behavior or activity of internet users measured with analytical and marketing tools. Steven Woods described digital body language in the context of B2B sales. In the book “Digital Body Language,” he presents, among other things, how to read digital body language to maximize the number and quality of leads. Observation of digital body language allows the customer to “lead” the customer through the various stages of the shopping path, and its purpose is to build a customer profile. Examples of digital body language are site visits, clicks, downloads from the site.

An interesting book on digital body language is Erica Dhawan’s book, Digital Body Language: How to Build Trust and Connection, No Matter the Distance. For example, the author cites research on how people interpret sarcasm in emails. According to research from 2005, it was correctly detected by 56% of respondents. Dhawan writes that punctuation marks, capital letters, and emoticons help the reader understand the meaning of words. Thus, the text conveys emotions that are easy to decode in a personal conversation. In online communication, it is not necessarily so obvious.

Customer behavior research and analysis can be entrusted to internal specialists or a company or agency specializing in marketing analysis for the e-commerce industry.  

Neuromarketing – what does the consumer think and feel?

Neuromarketing uses neuroscience and tools better to understand consumer behavior, decisions, and emotions.

With neuromarketing research, brands can set the right prices, improve websites, product packaging, and advertising.

Brands such as Microsoft, Frito-Lay, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, PayPal, and Hyundai used neuromarketing. For example, PayPal has learned through a study that customers in advertising are more appealing to speed than safety, and the Frito-Lay brand that frosted packaging of potato chips will be better than shiny pouches. The latter activated the area of ​​the brain associated with guilt in buyers.

Research methods and tools used in neuromarketing include:

  • EEG (electroencephalograph) – study of brain wave activity. The measurement is based on the Richard Davidson brain asymmetry paradigm, which describes the differences in neural activity between the right and left hemispheres. If the right hemisphere is more active, the subject does not identify himself with a product, for example, and if the left hemisphere is more active, the subject identifies himself with it.
  • GSR (Galvanic Skin Response) – a measurement of the galvanic skin response that measures the degree of emotion. It measures the electrical resistance of the skin, which depends on the degree of its hydration. The more we sweat, the lower the resistance. Many studies say that the greater the arousal, the greater the will to act.
  • ET (eyetracking) – from the analysis of eyeball movement, e.g. when viewing a website of an online store or application, you can find out which elements the examined person focuses on or which he or she avoids. This test is performed i.a. when designing sites.
  • Functional Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (fMRI) – allows you to observe the brain’s reaction to what the person being examined sees and hears. With the participation of fMRI in the 1980s under the supervision of prof. R. Montague conducted the “Pepsi Challenge in the Scanner” experiment. The subjects were offered two samples of the drink: Coca-Cola and Pepsi. The results of this experiment showed that brand awareness influences the taste of the drink. A Coca-Cola and Pepsi study using fMRI also took place in 2004 and showed that brand knowledge changes the way the brain perceives the drink.
  • RT (Response Time) – measurement of the response time. It tells about the degree of certainty, which is determined by the time it takes to respond when filling out the survey. A faster response time means that the belief is greater and that it is harder to change that decision.


  • Understanding consumer behavior is the subject of numerous studies and analyzes, thanks to which behavioral models such as Fogg’s behavioral model or EKB model were created. In 2020, Google released a study on the buyer’s decision-making process that shows that people make decisions in a chaotic manner.
  • In Poland and around the world, e-commerce research is regularly conducted, aimed at, inter alia, creating profiles of e-shoppers and learning about their purchasing habits and assessing the situation of the e-commerce market.
  • There are many online consumer analysis methods and data acquisition methods, including segmentation, Customer Journey Map, business analysis tools, quantitative and qualitative research, usability research, and Digital Body Language.
  • Marketing uses the achievements of neuroscience. Research conducted with the use of specialized tools and methods (EEG, GSR, eye tracking, Functional Magnetic Nuclear Resonance, RT) allows not only to analyze consumer behavior, but also to understand it.


Consumers do not always make rational decisions, according to prof. Daniel Kahneman’s mind works in two ways. The Nobel Laureate in Economics defines these activities as Systems 1 and 2. System 1 works quickly and automatically, without a sense of control. System 2 is conscious, rational, perform activities that require mental effort, needs focus. Just because that so does not mean that selling is to be ruled by chance. The more you know about your customers, the more effectively you will reach them.

In short, if you want to know why your customers leave your website, even if they find what they were looking for, or understand why not all products sell equally well, then consumer analysis will provide you with the answers. Sometimes the reason for leaving the website may be trivial; other times, it may be so serious that the client will not come back. The same is with the product. Maybe it is enough to change the way it is presented on the website, work on the promotion, or add other options to the shopping cart?

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