Multi-method approach to understand the path to purchase for British Airways

Through trend research, in-moment reporting, workshopping and behavioural tracking, British Airways developed a cross-functional framework for strategic planning across touchpoints.

Woman smiling while holding her phone at the airport
Woman smiling while holding her phone at the airport


How it started

British Airways (BA) wanted to better understand the online path to purchase for trips by air. Human8’s challenge was to design an approach that would capture the complexity of the path to air-trip purchases. The team needed to look at the journey from different perspectives:

  • In-the-moment reporting and observations
  • After-the-event reflections
  • Bottom-up trend spotting in behaviour


How we inspired change

Through a combination of methodologies, we explored several perspectives, deepening our understanding of the path to purchase. These are the key steps taken during the project:

  • Consolidated existing research from British Airways. A behavioural economics expert engaged with frontline staff and observed interactions with customers at the BA contact centre.
  • Utilised existing knowledge and built hypotheses in workshop settings, to test with fifteen key stakeholders at BA.
  • Tracked real-time online behaviour among those converting to purchase online with our partners at Experian.
  • Connected with travellers via ‘TripTalk’, a bespoke online community, to get in-the-moment ‘snapshots’ from their individual path to purchase and discussed these in face-to-face and video in-depth interviews to develop a journey map.
  • Prioritised findings, based on implications for key areas of the business in a dedicated workshop.


The impactful path-to-purchase model was shared with the organization, supported by a pocket guide to keep it top of mind.


How it lives on

The research deepened BA’s knowledge of the total end-to-end customer experience, and the path-to-purchase model is embedded throughout the organization as part of a single consolidated view of the customer journey. BA is using it as a framework for strategic planning, not only within marketing, but also in other teams such as data analytics.

The layered methodological approach has enabled the involvement of stakeholders at various points, engaging them throughout the project, and facilitating reflection and debate.


“This project helped us understand in much greater detail how consumers plan and research their air travel, and gave us a clear view of the different touchpoints available to us to engage with potential customers. The multi-facetted approach enabled us to get much closer to the moment of truth in the customer purchase journey, and the interweaving of behavioural economics gave us a deeper understanding of the motivations influencing the consumer behaviour. (…) Engagement with our stakeholders from the start also enabled us to use their knowledge to help shape the research and ensured their engagement with the output. The purchase journey framework is now integrated in our strategic planning, and we continue to reinforce the insight provided by our team to the business.”

Eulin Goh
Head of Research and Insight, British Airways

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