Consumer Decision Journey

Consumer Decision Journey (CDJ) is a model that describes how consumers make purchase decisions. The Consumer Decision Journey is therefore non-linear. This means that the phases do not follow one another until the final purchase decision, but often overlap and repeat. The CDJ highlights the importance of Word of Mouth Marketing by incorporating factors such as customer loyalty, Online Customer Loyalty and the experience after purchase into the model.

General information

The traditional approach to the description of buying behavior involves four phases. A central assumption is the purchase or conversation funnel. The analogy of a funnel is being used to attempt to trace the customer’s path theoretically and find out where the customer got into contact with the company touchpoints.

  • Initial contact: Consumers begins with a certain number of brands, of which they became aware through advertising or recommendations from friends and acquaintances.
  • Selection: They reduce the number of brands by selecting and limiting certain features of the product or potential brands.
  • Comparison: They assess and compare.
  • Purchase: They decide for a brand and thus for a product.

This sales funnel is the starting point for the newer model of the customer decision journey. The circumstances that play a role during a purchasing process are changing at a similar pace as technological developments. Consumers nowadays have numerous opportunities to make contact with a brand, including mobile devices. The traditional model cannot adequately reflect these touchpoints which lead to buying decisions. In addition, only a fraction of the consumers conclude the buying process in one session. Many purchases are only made after about two weeks when consumers visit a website again.  

Consumer decision journey

The McKinsey consulting company conducted a study in 2009 with over 20,000 participants from different sectors and three countries. The findings of this study form the basis for the CDJ model.[1]

It consists of the following phases:

  • Consideration: Consumers start with a set of an average of three to four brands or companies if they are not already loyal customers of a company.
  • Evaluation: Now they evaluate the brands being considered. A significant difference to the funnel becomes clear already. The consumer can access a variety of digital channels to get information. Search Engines, Social Networks and Blogs serve as a source of information. Companies can pick up their customers at these different touchpoints or micro-conversions.
  • Buy: When the consumer considers their needs met, they will make a purchase. The barriers should be as small as possible at this touchpoint so that the consumer can conclude a purchase with as few clicks as possible.
  • Experience, Advocate & Bond: These phases describe what happens after the purchase. Consumers uses the product and accumulate experience. If they are positive, they may give a rating and recommend the product. Word-of-mouth marketing plays a central role in the CDJ, as this feedback affects the evaluation phase. There is a loop. Negative feedback affects purchase decisions from other consumers. But it can also be used as an improvement suggestion for future products. If a consumer’s experience with a company has been consistently positive, he may become a loyal customer. There are two types of loyalty. One relates to loyalty programs, which include special offers, for example. The other type focuses on the management of customer relationships and the experiences a consumer has with a company. This includes contacts with customer service or conversations in various social networks.

Relevance to online marketing

The model of the consumer decision journey tries to represent the complexity of a purchase process and extends the traditional model by a few essential points. In particular, the addition of different touchpoints and feedback loops is to be mentioned here. Many consumers now buy products with a mobile device and interact with brands in different ways. The CDJ model underlines the importance of communication that runs in both directions and across different devices. Touchpoints are targeted, which have a considerable influence on the purchase decision and thus also appear relevant from a monetary point of view.[2]

In addition, reviews, recommendations and reviews play an increasingly important role in the buying process. One of the most important findings of the CDJ model is that care for the customer relationship should not stop after the purchase. Instead, the Customer Experience should also be positive in the phases after the purchase. The consumer can act as Influencer by rating a product. They will promote the positive image of a brand or product and in the best case becomes a brand advocate, in other words, a loyal customer who advertises a product with their recommendations.


  1. The consumer decision journey Accessed on 07/20/2015
  2. Your customer’s purchase journey has changed – has your marketing? Accessed on 07/20/2015

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