Game Development Reference
7.2 The Purchase Funnel
The concept of the purchase funnel has been around since the late nine-
teenth century. St. Elmo Lewis, one of the fathers of American advertising,
pioneered the concept as part of his theoretical work on consumer behavior.
The model describes the steps a customer must go through before spend-
ing money on any kind of product or offer. Because we are all products
of a highly commercialized age, an age in which an understanding of the
mechanics of creating consumer demand is a basic part of our social edu-
cation, the core concept of the funnel may seem somewhat obvious now.
But its implications for customer acquisition in the social space are both pro-
found and useful.
The funnel expresses four primary phases for a consumer:
l AWARENESS of the product or service
l INTEREST in the potential purchase
l DESIRE to take advantage of an offer
l ACTION which fulfills that desire
The funnel takes its shape and metaphor from the decreasing percentage of
the population that proceeds to each new step. Regardless of the slickness of
your ad campaign to motivate a user in the first three stages—and no matter how
compelling the game content, screenshots, trial version, or whatever other com-
ponents are that you use to entice the user to give you money—you will have
fewer people who purchase than who are aware. You lose customers as they
move toward the bottom of the theoretical funnel. The more effective you can
get at provoking each of these consumer responses, the fewer customers you lose
each step down the funnel, and the bigger the pool of actuated users you'll have.