The consumer decision journey is a model that illustrates how consumers make decisions in regard to the products that they purchase. It’s an important model for businesses to understand, as it directly impacts how they can reach their customers and influence them to decide to purchase products, which ultimately impacts the success of a business. In this article, we’ll discuss the consumer decision journey and how it benefits businesses.
If there is only one goal of marketing it is to reach consumers during the times that influence their decisions to make purchases the most. That’s why Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, started offering targeted products recommendations to consumers that were already logged into the site and ready to make purchases years ago. That’s why companies that sell electronics not only display their televisions in their stores, but make sure that they are showing televisions that offer the most high-definition and vivid images.
Marketing has always tried to find the moments - the touch points - when buyers are the most likely to be influenced. In order to successfully influence consumers, marketing efforts have to know exactly how and when to reach their targeted audiences.
The consumer decision journey sets out to explain how consumers go about making decisions regarding the products that they purchase. It is a non-linear model, meaning that the phases that are involved in this journey don’t always follow one another in a particular pattern until a final purchase decision is made; rather, the phases tend to overlap and are often repeated. The consumer decision journey focuses on important aspects of marketing in order to influence decisions. These factors including customer loyalty, word of mouth marketing, and the experiences consumers have after they make a purchase.
Traditionally, there are four phases that are involved in the approach to describing the purchasing behavior of consumers. A key assumption of the consumer decision journey is the marketing funnel. The term “funnel” is used as an analogy to track the path consumers took in order to find a company or a product, and to determine which touch points the company used that were the most effective.
The four phases of the consumer decision journey include:
The sales funnel is the beginning point of the customer decision journey. It’s important to understand, however, that there are certain circumstances that come into play during the purchasing process, and that those circumstances are ever-changing.
Today, shoppers have ample opportunities to make contact with brands and products. Conventional means of connecting with businesses and products include advertisements on television and radio. While these methods are still viable today; however, newer methods of connecting consumers with products and brands, such as social media and email marketing, are becoming much more commonplace, and offer even greater opportunities for businesses to create touch points for consumers.
Given the new methods of linking consumers with products and brands, the traditional model of the consumer decision journey isn’t exactly applicable. Moreover, only a small percentage of buyers complete the buying process in a single session. In fact, most purchases are made about 2 weeks after initial contact or touch points.
In 2009, the McKinsey Consulting Company conducted a study to discover new trends in the consumer decision journey process. This study involved more than 20,000 participants from three countries and from different sectors.
This study determined that the following make up the basis of the consumer decision journey: