5 Stages of Awareness (Buyer’s Journey) – Concept & Application

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Part 1 - The Concept of the 5 Stages of Awareness

Why do you buy anything at all?

Is it because of a need or is it because of a want?

If it is because of a need, how do you even know that there is a need? Is it because you are facing a problem now?

If so, how do you even find a solution, and what makes you decide to buy a product or service to solve your problem?

Today, I am going to share with you the 5 stages of customer awareness, and understanding this is super important because it will change the way you do your business and craft your content or marketing messages.

The stages of awareness concept is started by Eugene Schwartz, who is a well known copywriter back in the 1980s.

The 5 stages are “Unaware”, “Problem Aware”, “Solution Aware”, “Product Aware”, and “Most Aware”.

I will break down these stages for you with an example.

Stage 1 - The Unaware Stage

Imagine that you own a hair loss company, and the prospects in the first level of awareness are in the unaware state.

Which means that they don’t even know that they have a problem.

For example, the prospects are young adults in their 20s, and they have their hair intact, and if you were to approach them and tell them that they have a hair problem, they may think that you are crazy.

But, what they didn’t know at that point of time, is that their scalp may have some condition that will cause them to lose their hair years down the road.

So, this group of people are people who didn’t even know that there is a real problem looming.

Stage 2 - The Problem Awareness Stage

Now, the next stage is the problem awareness stage where people started to realize and acknowledges that they have a problem.

As we were talking about the person in his 20s, and he was in the unaware state.

A few years down the road when he becomes 30, he started to realize that his hairline is receding, and whenever he showers, he started to see a bunch of hair in the strainer, and he becomes conscious about the problem.

Now, that person may or may not take action, it is really up to an individual.

Because as human beings, we tend to leave everything idle until it is really urgent.

And, assuming that the person is ready to take action, and started to do some research about his problems, this person is taken to the next stage of awareness which is the Solution Awareness stage.

Stage 3 - The Solution Awareness Stage

This is the stage where he will do research on his scalp condition, and what condition his scalp is in, whether his scalp is too oily or whether his hair loss is due to breakage.

He will start to find solutions to solve his problem. And, he is trying to assess the best solution for his condition.

Now, this is the stage where people will start to have the buying intention.

They may start to search for reviews, and they may even buy some products here and there to test things out, to find the best one out of all.

Or they may even go for a free trial for a hair treatment or something similar.

Now, assuming that this person finds that his condition got better because of some free trial treatment that he went to, and he decides that he wants more treatment.

This is where this person will be brought to the next stage of awareness which is the product awareness.

Stage 4 - The Product Awareness Stage

This is the stage where the person decides to go further with a product or with a company to solve his problem entirely.

And he doesn’t mind spending the money because he knows that it is going to work for him.

Now, assuming that this person have experienced a transformation.

His hair becomes even healthier than he was in his 20s.

Do you think that he will start sharing his experience with others who are having the same problem as he did.

You bet he would, right?

And, this is the stage called the “Most Aware” stage.

Stage 5 - The Most Aware Stage

It is when the person starts to become an advocate of the company or the product or services.

He will promote his personal experience with the company to his friends or family members without any condition.

So, I’ve just brought you through the 5 stages of customer awareness, and I want to share another live example, which I think is truly amazing in terms of how the company brings people through these stages of awareness.

Live Example of the 5 Stages of Awareness

This is a Thai company who speaks the levels of awareness really well, and very subtly. Which I think is worthy of a mention.

Now, this company is called Thai Insurance, and immediately you know that they sell insurance policies.

And, we all know that we will try to avoid any insurance agents who try to sell a policy to us. I am guilty of that.

Thai Insurance understands the concept of awareness really well, and they did their advertisements so subtly that it didn’t even look like an ad.

Here are some Video Ads from Thai Insurance that captures the attention of the people in the "Unaware Stage".

I am not sure if you’ve seen their ads before, but their ads are really tear jerking. I dare you to watch them and not cry!

Video Ad #1

Video Ad #2

Video Ad #3

The True Purpose of these Ads...

What Thai Insurance did with those advertisements is to implant a mindset in people, telling them that the company understands the value of life. 

The ads don’t even talk about insurance or anything related to it.

They only share real life stories and they only show their brand for a few seconds at the end of the ad.

But, why is that so?

It is because they understand the level of awareness.

People in the unaware stage, they don’t know they need insurance.

Who will think about insurance or protecting their assets every single day, right?

And, if Thai Insurance starts talking about insurance, those people will be turned off.

So, instead of turning off the people in the unaware stage (which is the biggest pool of potential customers)...

They created ads that evoke emotions, and planted a seed in everyone who will eventually reach the stage of Problem awareness.

At some point in our lives, we will buy insurance, and for the people in Thailand, when they intend to buy insurance, who will they look for?

I bet it is Thai insurance first, because they were emotionally invested when they've watched the video ads, and it makes them remember about Thai insurance.

Why Thai Insurance hardly creates ads that serves the "Solution Awareness Stage" and the "Product Awareness Stage"?

You don’t see Thai insurance creating ads that serve the solution awareness stage and the product awareness stage, because people at those stages will probably look for an insurance agent.

It is up to the agent to lead their customers through the other levels of awareness.

If you haven’t watched the Thai Insurance ads above, I urge you to do so, because they are really damn good, and I’ll be surprised if you didn’t shed a tear. 

So, I’ve shared with you the 2 examples of the 5 stages of awareness above, I hope it is clear.

If not, feel free to ask your questions in the comments section below.

Now the question is, how do you apply marketing techniques or content that speaks to people at each stage of awareness?

And, what are the types of content or platforms that you should use to deliver the message.

Part 2 - The Application of the Stages of Awareness

Unaware Stage - Content Types

So, let’s talk about the types of content that serves the first level of awareness, which is the unaware stage.

Basically, we know that these people don’t even know that their problem exist. 

To be honest, this group of people in the unaware stage is the hardest to move into the next stage of awareness.

Because, people in this stage have to realize and acknowledge that they have a problem at their own will.

And, if you are trying to push them into buying anything, they are going to be turned off.

So, if you intend to create any marketing material for the people in this stage, I would say that it has to come in a form of an advertisement that is engaging and entertaining.

And, it shouldn’t be created with the intention of selling.

Basically, you are planting seeds in people’s mind...

And, when they’ve moved to the next stage of awareness, they will think about you.

That’s the goal you are trying to achieve when you are targeting people in this stage.

Pitfall for this type of content

One downside of creating content for this group of people is that it is hard to track the effectiveness of your ad campaigns.

Because, basically you are not selling anything, and you are probably not making any money at all.

You are just creating brand awareness and hoping that people will remember you when their problem arises.

So, I would say that this is not a practical solution for small business owners because it will burn a hole in your marketing budget.

This is more for businesses in a larger scale which has a large marketing budget.

Problem Stage - Content Types

Now, the next stage of awareness which is the problem stage.

This is the most exciting stage where people start to show interest in their problems.

This is also the stage where the market gets crowded.

Marketers will try to cram lots of content to their prospects.

And, the objective is to compete with their competitors for the people’s attention.

Because marketers understand that this is the stage where people will move to the next stage of awareness a lot quicker than those in the unaware stage.

So, the types of content for this group of people are:

  • Blogs
  • Social Media Updates
  • Infographics
  • Photographs
  • Digital Magazines / eBook
  • Audio Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Primary Research

Basically, the general idea of creating content for this group of people is to provide as much value as possible to people and to raise awareness of the solutions to the problems.

You are trying to bring people down to the next stage of awareness which is the solution stage.

But, the only way to move people down the stages is to either...

  1. Capture people’s contact information (their email addresses), and you send them through an email sequence; or
  2. You use re-targeting tools like, Facebook pixels or google tags, to draw people your next best content that serves the purpose.

Solution Stage - Content Types

This is the stage where people will start to have buying intention.

They may buy a few products here and there to test things out, or they may even join free trials or demo for a product or service.

Related: Best Content Types for Affiliate Marketing

So, the best kind of content for this group of people are...

  • Product reviews;
  • Product comparison;
  • “The best of” kind of content - like the best products to solve x problem;
  • Free software downloads;
  • Discount coupons;
  • Quiz and surveys;
  • Webinar or event; and
  • Any kind of educational resource that will help people with their problems.

So, the idea here is to create lead magnets or offer a trip wire.

Lead Magnet

A Lead magnet is a concept where people will provide their contact information in exchange for a piece of information or solution you can provide.

This is a good way to capture people’s interest or the real problems that people are facing.

For example, if I am hair loss solution company, I would probably ask for my prospects’ email addresses in exchange for a survey that will help them identify their hair problem.

So, at the back end, after the person completes the survey, you will know the real issue of the person, and you can send them the most relevant content to help them out.

Trip Wire

As for a trip wire, it is basically a low cost offer for your products or services.

For example, if I am going to sell a hair loss treatment package that cost a few thousand dollars, I will first start selling a trip wire which is a trial package that cost maybe $30 per session.

So, in this stage, you are getting people to be acquainted with your products or services.

And, you are asking for a small commitment, either in a form of time (to try your products) or a small amount of money.

The goal for this stage is to lead people into a bigger commitment.

Product Stage - Content Types

Now, the product stage of awareness is where people are looking to buy the full solution.

They are already acquainted with a product or service and all they need is the confidence that they are making the right decision.

So, at this stage, you as a marketer will be giving people a push to buy the full solution which probably costs a lot higher than the trip wire.

The right type of content that serves this group of people are…

  • Demos and free trials - because this is where you show people how your products work and how it will work for them;
  • Customer stories - this will instill trust and confidence;
  • Webinars and Events - this is one of the best ways to get people to buy high ticket products because it could potentially lead people through the 3 stages, the “problem stage”, the “solution stage”, and the “product stage”. It depends on how well your webinar is structured and how convincing your presentation is;
  • Mini Class - this is a series of lessons that provides a good of amount of info. This will get people to know more about your business or brand, and it helps to instill trust and confidence. The main goal is to pitch a high ticket offer at the end of the mini class.

Most Aware Stage - Content Types

Now, the final stage of awareness is where people already bought the highest ticket product.

And, they have probably gone through a transformation.

People in this group, they are ready to be an advocate for you and your business.

So, the right types of content for this stage is to provide a platform for people to promote your product or service.

And, maybe you want to educate your advocates on how they can earn money by promoting your products.

I presume you already know this is called affiliate marketing.

So, these are the right types of content that serves the different level of awareness.

I hope that you have gained some knowledge about general internet marketing.

If you have any questions, please, feel free to leave them in the comments section below.

And, if you think this article is helpful, I would appreciate if you could share this.

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