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Focusing on the Customer: The Concept of the Customer Journey

Hausarbeit 2011 20 Seiten

BWL - Offline-Marketing und Online-Marketing


Table of contents

1 Introduction

2 Conceptual basis of the Customer Journeya
2.1 Funnel-oriented purchase-process models
2.2 The Customer Journey

3 The use of the Customer Journey in marketing
3.1 Preliminary considerations concerning the use of the Customer Journey in marketing
3.2 The phases of the Customer Journey as a leverage point in marketing
3.2.1 The “Consideration Set” as a starting point
3.2.2 The phase of active evaluation
3.2.3 The moment of purchase
3.2.4 Consumer experiences in the post-purchase phase
3.3 Systematic summery of results
3.4 Guidelines for implementation

4 Potential and limitations of the Customer Journey
4.1 Potential of the Customer Journey
4.2 Limits of the Customer Journey

5 Conclusions

6 Bibliography

1 Introduction

The purchase decision process has been a topic of market research for many years.[1] Until recently, this research has focused on the effect advertising has on customers as they choose a suitable product after consideration and comparison of various alternatives. This one-dimensional approach is, however, outdated. Consumers share their experiences of selecting and using products with others, thus influencing other consumers’ purchases. Examples of this sort of communication are comments posted on social media platforms such as, or product reviews on

How can these new points of contact with brands and the new role of the consumer be integrated into the purchase decision process to develop new marketing options? One approach is the current understanding of the purchase process known as the Customer Journey. The objective of this article is to present the concept of the Customer Journey and to identify new approaches and applications for advertising and market communication.

To achieve this objective, the second chapter will present the conceptual basis of the Customer Journey. In the first section, the classic funnel-oriented purchase model will be introduced as the foundation for understanding the Customer Journey (Chapter 2.1), which is then described in detail in Chapter 2.2. The third chapter forms the main body of the article that first considers specific segments of advertising and marketing communication (Chapter 3.1), and then sets a theoretical framework for the role of the Customer Journey in the marketing process. Chapter 3.2 illustrates the individual steps of the Customer Journey to determine which leverage points are of special relevance. In Chapter 3.3, the results of this analysis are presented in a systematic summery, and guidelines for implementation are presented in Chapter 3.4. The fourth chapter discusses the possibilities and limitations of the Customer Journey, and the article concludes with a mention of the implications for research and practical application (Chapter 5).

2 Conceptual basis of the Customer Journey

2.1 Funnel-oriented purchase-process models

The basis of the Customer Journey is the Funnel-Oriented Purchase-Process Models derived from the AIDA-Model of marketing research.[2] The AIDA-Model postulates that consumers go through the stages of Attention, Interest, Desire and Action.[3] The Funnel-Oriented Purchase-Process Models describe the consumer decision process according to the theory of the AIDA-Model[4], and originate in the Sequential Multistage Process Model.[5] This multiple stage purchase process model assumes that a consumer is only familiar with a limited set (Retrieval Set) of all product brands on the market (Universal Set). The Retrieval Set is further reduced when the consumer selects certain products for consideration (Consideration Set). Finally, the consumer selects a product. The process is summarised in Figure 1.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 1: The Funnel-Oriented Purchase-Process Model

Source: Own research

As Figure 1 demonstrates, the elimination of alternatives at every step of the purchase process is the characteristic feature of this model. At the same time, the consumer only considers previously known products during the purchase decision process.

2.2 The Customer Journey

A further development of the Funnel-Oriented Purchase Process Models is the so-called Customer Journey, the journey the consumer takes in the purchase decision process. In the literature, the term “Customer Journey” is interchangeable with “Consumer Decision Journey”[6] The concept of the Customer Journey is divided into the phases of recognition of a need by the consumer to form the Consideration Set, the Active Evaluation by the consumer, the Moment of Purchase, and the Post-Purchase Phase.[7] Figure 2 shows an overview of the Customer Journey.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 2: The Concept of the Customer Journey

Source: Adapted from Court, D. et al. (2009), p. 3.

As Figure 2 demonstrates, the circular Customer Journey process assumes that purchase decisions are triggered by the customer’s recognition of needs and that the customer forms an initial set of alternatives.[8] This so-called Consideration Set is the starting point of the purchase decision, and contains the brands and products that the consumer takes into consideration due to previous experiences, such as media consumption, for example.[9]

In the second step, the consumer assesses the initial selection[10] by actively evaluating products and brands considered for purchase. In contrast to the Funnel Models, the consumer is not limited to the brands in the initial Consideration Set, but may add new brands and products, or as a result of recent experiences, may reject brands and products as relevant alternatives in the purchase decision process.

The second-to-last step in the Customer Journey is the Moment of Purchase. The purchase decision is made and can be significantly influenced by factors at the Point of Sale such as product packaging and interactions with employees.[11]

After completion of purchase the last step of the Customer Journey begins. Consumers enter the Post-Purchase Phase, which is characterized by experiences with the product.[12] These product experiences influence future purchase decisions in the product category. If the experiences are positive, the purchase decisions become habitual and are carried out more quickly. The consumer develops product loyalty and continues to purchase the brand or product. In addition, consumers known as active loyalists[13] share their opinions formed by positive product experiences with others – for example, through product reviews posted on the websites of online retailers such as

Since no categorical definition of the Customer Journey has been published as of yet, a working definition based on the observations above is that of a circular purchase process model triggered by consumer needs, and marked by the initial selection of purchase alternatives (Phase 1), the active evaluation of the selected products and additional alternatives (Phase 2), the purchase itself (Phase 3) and, finally, the post-purchase phase including possible future purchases by the consumer (Phase 4).

3 The use of the Customer Journey in marketing

3.1 Preliminary considerations concerning the use of the Customer Journey in marketing

Certain preliminary considerations are necessary in determining the uses of the Customer Journey in Marketing. These describe the concepts and the mechanisms on which the theory of the Customer Journey is based. These include:

- The Touch Points in the context of multi-channel marketing, and
- The transformation in marketing communication through social media.

Touch Points in the context of multi-channel marketing

The consumer purchase processes and Touch Points with products form the foundations of the Customer Journey, where Touch Points have a significant influence on purchase decisions. [14] A Touch Point is defined as a marketing channel with a sale or communication function that allows contact between the seller and the customer.[15] In the context of the Customer Journey, that means that all Touch Points relevant to the purchase process must be utilized and adapted as needed. Especially relevant to the Customer Journey are Touch Points created by the consumers themselves when they share experiences involving products they use frequently.[16] The relevance of these particular Touch Points means that they should be taken into consideration in further studies.[17]

Typically several Touch Points play a role in the Customer Journey. Therefore, a Multi-Channel Approach must be considered that is characterized by the use of two or more Touch Points.[18] The approach is determined by the Touch Points’ different levels of relevance in the purchase process. For example, classic media advertising is effective in placing a product into the Consideration Set, after which the relevance of media advertising decreases.[19] The Touch Points described also have various functions for consumers. Customers can use Touch Points to gather necessary information during the purchase process, while at checkout, or while claiming service.[20] Therefore, Touch Points and other mechanisms must be oriented to the needs of the consumers to create the most positive purchase experience possible.[21]

Transformation in marketing communication

The shift from a funnel-oriented purchase process model to a Customer Journey is characterized by a transformation in marketing communication, which creates novel Touch Points that are instrumental in purchase decisions.[22] The funnel-oriented model implies that the often inefficient Push-Communication initiated by the seller is the main influence on purchase decisions, because consumers only purchase products and brands with which they are familiar.[23] Nowadays, Push-Communication alone does not explain purchase decisions.

The Customer Journey model, on the other hand, states explicitly that consumers are influenced by mechanisms of communication not initiated by the seller.[24] This so-called Pull-Communication is initiated by the consumer and characterized by the consumer’s active participation in the communication process.[25] Such marketing communication comes from the consumers themselves, for example, when they seek advice from call-centers or inform themselves about new products on the Internet.

The transformation in marketing communication is also driven by the rise of social media, a phenomenon that can be subsumed under the term “Web 2.0”.[26] These media are characterized by communication and cooperation between companies and users and networking among users themselves.[27] They are defined by the production of user-created content on the Internet, which is then used and referenced by others.[28] This includes product reviews by consumers that significantly influence other consumers’ purchase decisions. The consumers’ participation in the communication process defines the social media as an interactive communication tool.[29] By providing a channel for feedback, this interactive communication enables dialogue between companies and consumers, as well as among consumers themselves. A summary of this transformation in communication is presented in Figure 3.

illustration not visible in this excerpt

Figure 3: The changes in communication

Source: Own research

3.2 The phases of the Customer Journey as a leverage point in marketing

3.2.1 The “Consideration Set” as a starting point

The starting point of the Customer Journey is the brands and products that the consumer selects for the Consideration Set after recognizing a specific need. Nowadays, the Consideration Set typically consists of a smaller number of brands.[30] This is caused by the consumer being bombarded with advertising on the one hand, and a greater selection of brands and products on the other hand. Both lessen the consumer’s ability to remember brands and products, causing the Consideration Set to lose importance in the purchase decision process. Nonetheless, the Consideration Set retains its value as a leverage point in advertising and marketing communication, because the products that are already in the Consideration Set are more likely to be purchased than those that are not.

In order to make use of the Consideration Set as a leverage point in Marketing, communication mechanisms must be able to arouse consumers’ attention so that they notice and remember brands and products. Classic media advertising and viral marketing communication are especially suitable for this purpose.[31]

Classic media advertising is defined as “[…] the conveyance and spread of advertising information by the allocation of advertising means to advertising channels […], to achieve a company’s specific market communication goals”.[32] Advertising channels used to arouse consumer attention include the print media, electronic media or outdoor advertising. Even though a significant budget is still allocated to establish customer contact in this manner, the relative importance of media advertising has come into question due to possible reactance and its decreased significance in the purchase decision process.

In the context of the Customer Journey, viral marketing is another new leverage point in directing consumer attention. Viral marketing is characterized by the rapid spread of attention-generating advertising campaigns by the consumers themselves.[33] Methods of spreading viral messages include videos on social media platforms such or an entire Internet presence.[34] These campaigns are often marked by emotional elements such as humor or deliberate provocation. This encourages consumers to spread information about the campaigns, leading to a snowball effect of “viral” spread and attention directed at the product. An example is Hape Kerkeling’s performance as Horst Schlämmer for Volkswagen, where he completes his driver’s license while driving a VW Golf. [35] This efficient viral campaign was highly successful and achieved its goal of creating enormous public attention.

3.2.2 The phase of active evaluation

In the context of the Customer Journey, the phase of active evaluation is defined as the consumers’ use of Touch Points with brands and products to gather information and to prepare their purchase decision. This offers opportunities for the use of new types of Touch Points as a leverage point in marketing. These are characterized by the information-pull from the consumers and by Touch Points that are not designed by companies in a classical manner, but instead created by the consumers themselves. Examples include product reviews on opinion platforms such as, product test videos on portals such as, or blogs by opinion leaders.[36] These activities can be summarized as User Generated Content (UGC), which is information that is placed by users on social media platforms and seemingly cannot be influenced by companies carrying out advertising campaigns.[37]


[1] cf. here and in the following Edelman, D. C. (2010), p. 64f.

[2] cf. Esch, F.-R., Brunner, C., Hartmann, K. (2008), p. 147.

[3] cf. Kroeber-Riel, W., Weinberg, P., Gröppel-Klein, A. (2009), p. 633f.

[4] cf. Esch, F.-R., Brunner, C., Hartmann, K. (2008), p. 147.

[5] cf. Esch, F.-R., Langner, T., Brunner, C. (2005), p. 1251f.

[6] cf. Jaffe, J. (2010), p. 53f; Barnes, H. (2011), w/o p. In order to remain consistent in the following explanations, the term “Customer Journey” will be used in following the title of this article.

[7] cf. Court, D. et al. (2009), p. 3f.

[8] cf. Court, D. et al. (2009), p. 3.

[9] cf. Shocker, A. D. et al. (1991), p. 183.

[10] cf. here and in the following Edelman, D. C. (2010), p. 65.

[11] cf. Court, D. et al. (2009), p. 9.

[12] cf. here and in the following Court, D. et al. (2009), p. 6.

[13] Passive loyalists remain loyal in purchase behavior, but are still open to other brands and products, and thus show loyalty only on the level of behavior, not that of mindset. cf. here Court, D. et al. (2009), p. 6f. see for loyalty of customers Kumar, V., Shah, D. (2004), p. 318f.

[14] cf. Edelman, D. C. (2010), p. 64f.

[15] cf. Link, J., Weiser, C. (2011), p. 108f. The term “Kundenkontaktpunkt” (customer contact point) is used as synonym for „Touch Point“, cf. see Steinmann, S. (2011), p. 9.

[16] cf. Court, D. et al. (2009), p. 5.

[17] cf. Wirtz, B. W. (2008), p. 83. Likewise Esch, F.-R. et al. (2010), p. 8f. For a differing opinion: Ehrlich, O. (2011), p. 6. Ehrlich excludes classic buzz marketing as Touch Points.

[18] cf. Steinmann, S. (2011), p. 15.

[19] cf. Teltzrow, M., Günther, O., Pohle, C. (2003), p. 422f.

[20] cf. Burke, R. R. (2002), p. 418; Steinmann, S. (2011), p. 26.

[21] cf. Richardson, A. (2010), w/o p.

[22] cf. Court, D. et al. (2009), p. 2.

[23] cf. Joachimsthaler, E. (2007), w/o p.

[24] cf. Court, D. et al. (2009), p. 5.

[25] cf. Bruhn, M. (2010), p. 32f.

[26] cf. Hettler, U. (2010), p. 12.

[27] cf. Bruhn, M. (2010), p. 473.

[28] cf. Alpar, P., Blaschke, S., Keßler, S. (2007), p. 3.

[29] cf. here and in the following Bruhn, M. (2010), p. 473ff.

[30] cf. here and in the following Court, D. et al. (2009), p. 4.

[31] cf. Bruhn, M. (2009a), S. 39; Edelman, D. C. (2010), p. 65.

[32] Bruhn, M. (2009b), p. 47.

[33] cf. Langner, S. (2009), p. 29f.

[34] cf. Esch, F.-R., Krieger, K. H., Strödter, K. (2009), p. 98f.

[35] cf. here and in the following GWA (2008)

[36] cf. Hennig-Thurau, T. et al. (2010), p. 317.

[37] cf. Ebersbach, A., Glaser, M., Heigl, R. (2011), p. 29.


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focusing customer concept journey



Titel: Focusing on the Customer: The Concept of the Customer Journey