Consumer Decision Journeys for Low-involvement FMCG: Turning Habits into Loyalty

Ann-Kathrin Ulrike Marie-Luise Brauns & Lisa Maria Deupmann

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis presents a discussion of ‘holy grail’ of marketing, brand loyalty. It is suggested that viewing consumption not as a linear decision, but as a holistic experience will provide even brands in low-involvement categories with the opportunity to differentiate their brand and create loyal behavior in their consumers. Historically, decision-making models have focused on single-purchase episodes and cognitive learning processes occurring dependent on the level of satisfaction with the product. The advent of the relationship marketing school shifted the focus towards designing entire consumer-brand relationships to create brand loyalty. Consumers have been realized to look for satisfaction beyond product performance, but rather judge the entire journey they embark on with a brand. David Edelman (2010) has provided a tool – the ‘consumer decision journey’ – for brands to manage this entire experience. Exploring the concept of brand loyalty and discovering its classical link to highinvolvement decisions poses the question of whether loyalty is at all possible in lowinvolvement categories and, if so, whether an adapted ‘consumer decision journey’ model could be used to create it. This paper, thus, sets out to derive such an adaptation, giving the model more relevance in the inherently low-involvement FMCG context. Using qualitative methods in a single case study research approach, researchers illuminate the consumer perspective on milk consumption answering the questions of ‘how’ and ‘why’ it is done. Deriving the consumption sequence as well as eliciting choice criteria and influencers lead to an interpretation of how a consumer journey can be managed and lead to loyalty. For this purpose, the brand Arla is explored in depth. Arla is suitable because of its high awareness ratings in the Danish research context as well as its self-voiced interest in innovating and staying proactively consumer-focused in times of uberization1 . Findings derived in the specific milk-category context are abstracted and a ‘consumer decision model’ adapted to low-involvement consumption is presented. As opposed to the original model, a habitual loop is added as an intermediate step on the path to loyalty. Branding in the price-sensitive low-involvement field is especially difficult, but finding an innovative way to engage consumers is all the more imperative. 1 Uberization refers to the trend of industry-disruptive start-ups that use technology to bypass bureaucracy.

EducationsMSc in Brand and Communications Management, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2016
Number of pages136