Consumer purchases aren’t made in a vacuum. Which is why understanding all of the variables that precede actual purchases is the key to unlocking the consumer journey.

“The idea that you go somewhere, you decide you want something, you make that purchase and then you’re done is incorrect. Inherently it just doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t really exist in real life,” says Whitney Fishman Zember, Managing Partner, Innovation & Consumer Technology, Wavemaker US.

Wavemaker, the self-described media, content and technology agency is quite literally obsessed with deciphering the consumer purchase journey.

“You’re never not considering or thinking about something you may need or want to do, whether it’s a week from now a day from now a month from now. There’s always something top of mind and percolating,” Zember explains in this interview with Beet.TV.

Wavemaker’s approach is to “flip the quote unquote funnel upside down” and look at things through the purchase journey, according to Zember.

“There’s active and there’s passive stages, but the reality is that consumers are always in some state of the purchase journey.”

Whether it’s understanding, exploration, fact finding, making a purchase, reviewing a purchase, sharing a purchase, engaging in a purchase, “There’s something that’s always going on with a consumer with regards to brands.”

The agency also takes a different view of technological solutions in a sort of cart-after-the-horse scenario.

“I always say it has nothing to do with the technology,” Zember says. “If you start with the technology, you tend to look for reasons to apply it and it’s not always genuine use cases or genuine opportunities to impact the consumer positively.”

Starting with understanding who consumers are and where they are within the purchase journey should take precedence.

“What is their everyday experience and those opportunities to alleviate everyday frictions that people don’t even think can be alleviated that they don’t even realize are a problem?”

Choosing the right tools, technology and platforms comes after “you recognize inherently what those needs are and how you can provide for the consumer.”

This video is part of a leadership series presented by Wavemaker, the GroupM media agency formed by the merger of MEC and Maxus. Please find additional segments from the series here.