Cara Coffin

Consumer Journey

Hiking Backpack Consumer Journey



The Ask

Explore the consumer journey of buying a hiking backpack.

The Findings

Buying the right hiking backpack is more complicated than you think. Getting the wrong fit could be harmful, even deadly.

The Opportunity

REI can be the online expert consumers need.

It started with an investigation

Methods of Research:

  • Desk research

  • 1X1 Interviews

    • Current backpack owners

    • Prospective consumers

  • REI Store Visit

    • An employee spent 1 hour showing me the ins and outs of everything hiking backpack

Map Of The Consumer Journey

A visualization of the thoughts, actions, and feelings that go

on during a consumer’s purchase journey.

We Discovered Six Major Steps To The Consumer Journey:

  1. The Lightbulb Moment: You realize the need to get a backpack.

  2. The Information Quest: You turn to experts online for advice.

    • Most of our interviewees started with by going online with a google search which led them to blogs, youtube videos, and expert articles.

  3. Social Inquiry: Next You reach out to friends for advice via social media or in person.

    • ****Note: step 2 & 3 may happen simultaneously.

  4. Store Visit: Everyone we talked to recommended an in-store visit to get properly fitted—their top pick was REI.

    1. At REI, an in-store expert will ask you…

      • what are your long term/short term goals?

      • what weather/ terrain conditions will you be hiking in?

      • do you have any price limitations?

    2. Next they will help you…

      • take your measurements.

      • walk through pack options.

      • test out a weighted pack by walking around the store.

  5. Purchase: Normally happens in store the day of fitting.

  6. Pass It On: Consumer eagerly passes on knowledge learned from purchase experience to friends and family.


What does this mean for REI?

There are a lot of spaces REI could play in to enhance the consumer journey, but this map exposed one BIG problem area: the information quest.

The Information Quest = Finding A Needle In A Haystack.

With so much information out there finding the best advice online can be overwhelming and delay the process of going into the store and ultimately a purchase.

REI’s online backpack guide doesn’t help. The guide is hard to find, lengthy, and complicated. At first glance you see a seven minutes long instructional video, page that never seems to end, and tons of hiking jargon.

The Opportunity: REI already has credibility as the in-store expert so let’s make them the go-to online expert as well.

The Real Problem: REI Needs To Be Talking To The Beginner Hiker.

Easy Fixes To Become the Online Expert

  1. Break It Down—Explain hiking lingo for the new backpack consumer.

  2. Simplify—Provide an overview and cut down on the clutter.

  3. Direct Users—Link the guide on top of the backpack shopping page and on each backpack info page.

Consumer Map Teammates: Brianne Johnson, Anna Bouchard, and Rachael Sherman

Class: Account Planning