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McKinsey's Consumer Decision Journey

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  • 0:05 Buying In
  • 1:22 The Traditional Funnel
  • 2:47 McKinseys Consumer…
  • 4:05 The Loop
  • 4:53 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

The McKinsey model of the consumer journey updates the outdated funnel method to which most people have grown accustomed. In this lesson, you'll learn more about the McKinsey model and how it differs from the funnel.

Buying In

Marketers have always understood the customer journey to look something like this:

Tom is aware he needs a new, larger suitcase for upcoming business trips. He starts looking for possible options and researching his options. He identifies his top three choices by comparing each of them against one another. Tom settles on a new hard-sided rolling case, and he makes his purchase.

But today everything about that customer journey has changed. Marketers have moved away from the traditional funnel concept to a more sophisticated model known as the consumer decision journey, where a customer's purchase decisions are made in a circular model based on brands they already know and with which they may already have a relationship. The new model was developed by McKinsey and Company, which is a global company of consultants and researchers who use insights to help businesses get ahead.

This new journey is different in both form and function, moving from the funnel design, which starts off wide at the top with awareness before narrowing to a final purchase decision, to a more circular pattern that incorporates more of the touchpoints savvy consumers experience as they make a decision to buy.

Let's first take a look at the traditional funnel, and then we will examine the difference in the new McKinsey method.

The Traditional Funnel

Just like a funnel you might use to drain something in your kitchen or garage, you have more action at the top of the funnel than at the bottom, right? There's more space for liquid that becomes more focused and refined as it pours out the smaller end. When the original customer journey model was established in the early 20th century, this is the method most sales professionals and marketers saw.

Typically, it included five steps, one coming sequentially after another:

1. Awareness

Customers become aware of a want or need they have, such as wanting to adopt a pet or needing an over-the-counter remedy to help them sleep better at night. This is the top, or widest, part of the funnel where all brands and options are on the table.

2. Interest

A consumer looks for options and ideas in this stage, gathering information about products or services and establishing an interest in particular solutions. This is the research stage of the journey.

3. Evaluation

This is where consumers narrow down the options, and they research their top picks and compare them against one another. This step looks at the options just before purchase.

4. Decision

It's decision-making time! This is the stage when consumers make a decision, after perusing all the options. It's time to pull out the wallet and commit.

5. Purchase

The deal is done and the purchase has been completed. A business has earned the purchase of a new or existing customer.

Now, let's take a look at the differences in the McKinsey model.

McKinseys Consumer Decision Journey

Whereas the traditional funnel model looks at a purchase as a single, stand-alone transaction, the McKinsey Consumer Decision Journey looks at a purchase as part of a loop. Here are the four phases:

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