The Consumer Decision Journey: How consumers make choices and the implications

The internet has changed how consumers interact with brands and this calls for new marketing strategies. The traditional marketing strategies were developed on the basis of the “funnel metaphor” – a consumer will start with numerous brands from which they would then narrow down through a reductive process after which they buy and move on.  

A study by McKinsey & Co depicts how consumer interaction has evolved with the internet. The study shows that consumer interact with brands through a process called the “consumer decision journey” (CDJ). A process which is more iterative and less reductive.

The consumer decision journey has four stages :

  • Consider: The genesis of the journey is when the consumer has been exposed to products  through ads, store display, an encounter with friends etc As opposed to the funnel model, consumer usually consider fewer products at the onset.
  • Evaluate: At this stage, the number of brands the consumer deals with increases, as opposed to the funnel model which indicates a reduction in the number of brands. This is because  because consumers will seek additional information from colleagues, Internet reviews, retailers etc. At this stage, they are still open to adding new options and discarding others.
  • Buy : In most instances the consumer wait  until they are in a store to make a purchase and this implies that the point of purchase is a very important touch point as it exploits placement, packaging, availability, pricing and sales interactions. Even when they are buying online, the user experience of the website will affect their decision.
  • Enjoy-Advocate-Bond : After purchase, an intense interaction begins with the product which is unaccounted for as a touch point in the funnel model. More than 60 percent of consumers will still conduct online research about products after buying them and if they are pleased with the product, they advocate for the product through reviews, word of mouth etc. If the bond becomes intense enough, consumer enters the enjoy-advocate-buy loop which skips the consider and evaluate stages entirely.

The implications of the CDJ model shifts the focus from how to allocate spend across media channels to targeting stages in the desiring journey. Most of marketing budget is spent on the consider stage, that is to create awareness but most of consumers are more susceptible in the evaluation and enjoy-advocate-bond stage.

As a business trying to get the most of your marketing budget, the key is to increase spend on driving advocacy for your products rather than focusing solely on creating awareness alone.

Image Credit: Google

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