Today’s blog considers the importance of understanding the consumer journey for train passengers, labels spaghetti product placement ‘pasticide’ and shows that using tissues to connect with your audience is not to be sniffed at.

We were all given cause to revisit the consumer journey when Rick returned from his recent travels. He had just finished a client workshop and staggered into the local railway station, burdened by his matching set of Avengers Assemble hand luggage, flip-charts hanging from each arm and a Greggs 3 for 2 Sausage and Bean Melt clamped under his chin. The stairs that confronted him (pictured left below) might as well have been the North face of the Eiger in his encumbered state. So he circled the concourse for an easier option, finally discovering a lift (pictured below right). Now dear reader, can spot anything wrong with the sign at the foot of the lift? Got it yet? Yes, of course! It would have been a lot more helpful and reduced the time spent trudging around the station if it had been placed at the foot of the stairs.

Wakefield station

And that’s our point. The more attention given to the consumer journey, the more likely we are to engage with our audiences.

But we aren’t simply talking about media planning here. We mean looking far earlier than that, at how consumers make decisions in a marketplace, who and what influences them and when and so how they need to be engaged (you read more about our approach here). In our experience organisations often don’t step back for a moment and think in this way.

Below is an example of a brand getting close but missing out on the cigar. At a recent running event the goodie bags for the successful marathoners contained the usual hotch-potch of coconut water, corn plasters and associated ‘go-faster’ toot. The clever chaps at Dolmio had put two and two together (runners + race = hungry for pasta) and filled the bags with their latest dried spaghetti carbonara. Yes, DRIED. Unsurprisingly, on crossing the line few of the competitors were minded to reach for a portable stove, bring water to the boil and cook for 10 minutes whilst stirring occasionally, as they stood shivering in the face of Hurricane Imogen. Instead they tucked straight into the appropriately provided chocolate biscuits and in our case made mental notes about snarky blogs entitled ‘Doh!-lmio’, ‘pastacide’ and ‘carbonarmageddon’. Anyway, you get the point. The thinking was right but the understanding of the consumer mind-set at that specific time wasn’t.


At Muse we have two models that simply ensure that all the right issues are considered in the right order when developing marketing plans. ‘Brand Choice’ looks at how consumers make purchase decisions in a market and ‘Brand Voice’ looks at how to align brand activity to that purchase process. And that’s why we appreciate well thought–through activity like the British Transport Police’s promotion of their non-emergency 61016 contact number. On first impressions a packet of tissues might seem an odd choice. But anyone who’s travelled on the District Line will be aware that tissues are the prop of choice for organised groups trying to fleece commuters. Now everyone’s got to earn a living but the point is that BTP have given thought not only to the general circumstances under which commuters might need the number (sitting on the tube) but also the specific situations (being hassled to buy tissues). It’s not big but it is quite clever.


And finally, it’s worth saying that thoughtful audience engagement shouldn’t be confused with media ‘specials’. In that respect every sector has it’s own wraparound, gatefold, spot-varnished cliché – confectionary brands chasing ‘likes’ on social media (how many ‘likes’ means it’s ‘love’?), car manufacturers block buying poster sites (normally along the route to the Chairman’s home), static banners on Citywire (which Fund Managers are blogging out there?), banks of cultural event posters (ironically packed like sardines) on the walls of the underground, even yachts at Cannes (anyone seen our invitation to MIPIM?). But resisting the urge to do ‘business as usual’ and avoiding ‘media firsts’ when trying to genuinely engage with audiences can pay back in spades.

So if you’re keen to avoid the gap between you and your audiences and would like to find out more about how ‘Brand Choice’ might work for your brand simply click here or email James Page at