Consumer Decision Journey Model (McKinsey)

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Sarah Daghman
Lecturer, Russian Federation

Consumer Decision Journey Model (McKinsey)

🔥NEW Traditional marketing methods for understanding the consumer buying process like AIDA are less useful in a world being transformed by digital markets. Consumer shopping and purchase behavior is rapidly evolving with increased preferences for shared consumption over ownership, use of mobile technology, consumer co-creation of value and online shopping.
This has led to the birth of new models such as the Consumer Decision Journey (CDJ).

CDJ is a model that describes the process customers undergo before making any purchase decisions. Every purchase customers make is seen as a decision journey, involving interactions with different brands from the initial contact to the point where they make a purchase. Is was introduced in 2009 by McKinsey & Co as a new conceptual model to study consumer decision making. The consumer decision journey model aims to accurately reflect how customers use technology to inform themselves about brands and products before making a purchase decision. Importantly, the CDJ is a loop model instead of the usual straight-line approach from awareness, purchase, and loyalty. This was a major improvement in response to a growing recognition that previous models increasingly failed to capture what they described as, "all the touchpoints and key buying factors resulting from the explosion of product choices and digital channels, coupled with the emergence of an increasingly discerning, well- informed consumer." Even if many companies are still, many years later, working on the usual linear approach in a non-linear world.

The CDJ model reflects a more complex reality of shifting choices, decision criteria, digital touchpoints important to consumers and key triggers. It's critical for brands to be in a consumers' initial consideration set, provide digital touchpoints and information at the right moments and provide trust/quality experience with a product or service.

The CDJ maps the journey a customer will make when they make a purchase. It tracks different phases to help marketers understand more about where and what they should be doing.
The consumer decision-making process consists of five steps (Awareness, Evaluation, Choosing, Purchasing and Consuming/Experiencing).

Firms increasingly develop detailed maps of the CDJ for different target customers and look to match marketing efforts (touchpoints) to guide and reinforce consumer associations of a positive experience with a brand. Insights from a better understanding of CDJ processes can be used to:
  • Outline how each person can be targeted most effectively;
  • Understand what the most common 'touchpoints' are in customers' journeys (Do customers post on social media? Do they use search engines to discover new products?);
  • Help focus effort on the most important and commonly used channels;
  • Help to know what messages customers need to see at each phase of their decision journey, therefore the marketers can target customers who'll engage with their messages and are more likely to buy;
  • Help marketers benchmark performance and enable more efficient targeting.
Tom Gillpatrick (2019), "The digital transformation of marketing: impact on marketing practice & markets", Economics, Vol. 7, No.2, pp.139-156.
Digital Marketing Institute (2019), "How Is Digital Transformation Changing Marketing?"


DIscussion Topics
La Técnica AIDA or SPIN Selling
👀Consumer Decision Journey Model (McKinsey)
History of the AIDA Model
Stages of Buyer Readiness
Kotler's 5 A's of a Customer Path (Journey) in the Connected Era
Special Interest Group

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