According to Kotler, in the age of connectivity, the customer journey should be redefined in terms of the 5As, or the process of AWARE, APPEAL, ASK, ACT, and ADVOCATE, which reflect the connectivity among customers. Let’s take a look at the specifics of this process.
Let’s understand the components of the 5A (aware, appeal, ask, act, and advocate).
AWARE, the entry point of the customer journey, is a state in which the customer is “aware” of many brands, including the brand in question. The process by which a customer becomes “aware” of a brand includes accidental exposure to advertisements for the brand (whether online or offline), hearing reviews of the brand from others, or recalling past experiences with the brand.
After “recognizing” a large number of brands, the customer then sorts through the information he or she has been told or given by others and is attracted to only a few brands that are favorable to him or her. This state, in other words, is APPEAL.
The customer then begins to “research” (ASK) about the few brands that appeal to them. They may call a friend for advice, or check online for product reviews. Or they might compare prices, call centers, or talk to salespeople to get more information.
After obtaining detailed information during the “research” phase, customers then proceed to the “ACT” phase. Customer “action” here does not necessarily mean only “purchasing behavior” such as making a purchase in a store or online.
Customers will further interact with the brand not only through consumption and use but also through after-sales service. In order to satisfy the customer in all its “action” processes, the brand must pour its attention and deliver solutions to the customer.
Eventually, customers develop a strong loyalty to the brand. This is manifested in retention rates, repurchase rates, and ultimately in the rate of recommending the brand to others. This is the “ADVOCATE” phase. Enthusiastic recommenders become evangelists, voluntarily recommending their favorite brands to others.
The 5A steps do not always proceed in sequence
Sometimes, even if they are not initially attracted to a brand, they may be motivated by a recommendation from a friend to buy the brand in question. Thus, the 5A customer journey is one in which some customers may skip some steps and become loyal advocators even though they are not actual buyers (if the product is rare and in a highly popular category). For example, Tesla Motors automobiles are strongly recommended by people who are not buyers.
Thus, the 5A framework is a flexible tool that can be applied to any industry, allowing comparisons to be made across industries and providing insight into the characteristics of each. It also allows us to understand the relationship between a company and its customers, as well as the characteristics of the brand in question in comparison to its competitors, Kotler said.