Conceptualizing a path-to-purchase framework and exploring its role in shopper segmentation

Robert Paul Jones, Rodney C. Runyan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


PurposeThe purpose of this paper is to explore a conceptualization of shopper as behaviourally distinct from consumer. The authors seek to identify elements foundational to shopper behaviour, using insights from the extant literature. A path-to-purchase framework is proposed, and tested. The framework is further explored as a method for improving shopper segmentation. Design/methodology/approachOver 308 articles associated with the shopper are examined using a bibliometric methodology. The literature review provides the foundation for a path-to-purchase (PtP) framework. An experimental design online study is undertaken to validate the framework. Structural equation modelling is used to analyse the data. Moderation testing of importance in the model is explored. FindingsThe findings reveal five stages through which shoppers’ progress in pursuit of purchase resolution. The exploratory study reveals the positive influence of each stage one on another. Additionally, shopper perception of the importance of the recipient and the occasion moderate relationships associated with purchase outcomes. Research limitations/implicationsThe research may be limited by the selection of literature assembled from over 60 years of research, and the online methodology. Practical implicationsThe framework is suited for both industry and academia to better address shopper needs. The framework is specific to shopper behaviour relieving some of the conflicting messages which result from the overlay of consumer behaviour on a shopper. The framework describes the processes in purchase pursuit allowing brands and retailers to better support the shopper. Importance as a moderator is explored allowing for new and perhaps better ways to segment shoppers. Originality/valueThis theory building research provides a comprehensive exploration of the shopping literature to propose a PtP framework. The framework provides academicians and practitioners a more detailed method for examining and segmenting shoppers. Through the framework elements specific with each stage can be examined for their suitability as better segmentation tools for brands and retailers to deliver enhanced shopper satisfaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)776-798
Number of pages23
JournalInternational Journal of Retail and Distribution Management
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 8 2016


  • Behaviour
  • Bibliometric
  • Framework
  • Path-to-purchase
  • Segmentation
  • Shopper


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