Ritual Loops

by Ben Perreira

A consumer journey is the path from need to purchase that a person follows for a given product or category. It is important to develop a consumer journey to identify opportunities to reach him/ her when s/he is most receptive to a message.

A sub-section of the consumer journey is the ritual loop. The ritual loop exists when a love for the product and the process of purchasing it supersedes a specific need for it. The size of the loop reflects the purchase cycle, so it may be small (Gatorade) or large (Audi).

Take Ben & Jerry’s.

Ben & Jerry’s is just ice cream. And frozen yogurt and Greek frozen yogurt. But pretty much just ice cream.

It is also delicious, and its flavors have cool names that relate to TV shows, music, art, and other cultural totems. A ritual for buying Ben & Jerry’s may look like this:

– Develop a craving for ice cream.

– Decide you MUST have Ben & Jerry’s ASAP.

– Identify store nearby that sells it, preferably one with the best selection.

– Go to store, peruse flavors. Note cleverness of some flavor names.

– Select the one you wanted all along, head home.

– Once home, get a spoon and find favorite place to sit (couch, recliner, bed, etc.).

– Eat some of ice cream in the package, but not all of it. Put the balance in the freezer.

– The next day, or the day after, remember you have Ben & Jerry’s in the freezer. Do a good deed and allow yourself the reward of said product.

– Repeat actual eating ritual.

– Once the product is finished, recycle the package, or possibly re-use the package.

– See the package in the recycling bin or in its reincarnated state and lament the ice cream being gone.

– Remember how delicious it was. Remember the music you were listening to, the person you shared it with, or the TV show you were watching.

– Consider whether you will buy the same or perhaps try a new flavor next time.

At the end of the loop that is the consumption ritual of Ben & Jerry’s starts a new circle. You are obligated to yourself to fall in love all over again.