The use of artificial intelligence along the customer journey - possibilities and challenges for marketers

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School of Business | Master's thesis
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Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a major buzzword in the business world during the past few years. Experts have predicted that the impact of the technology will be particularly significant in the marketing field, as AI enables better understanding, prediction, and engagement with customers. At the same, consumers are expecting seamless, personalized, and fast digital experiences. Therefore, understanding the different aspects of customer experience and customer journeys is critical for both scholars and practitioners. The emerging advanced technologies, like AI, affect all the stages of the traditional customer decision-making process: from pre-purchase all the way to the post-consumption evaluation. However, despite its potential impact on the marketing field, the utilization of AI in marketing is undoubtedly a relatively novel topic in academia, having not yet received much attention from scholars. In particular, the effects of using AI-powered technologies along the consumer’s journey are under-researched. This thesis studies the ways marketers can leverage AI along the customer journey. Further, the study explores the opportunities and benefits in the utilization of AI and identifies challenges and prerequisites firms should consider in implementing the technology. The study utilizes two theoretical frameworks: a customer journey model by Lemon and Verhoef (2016) and a model for capturing the prerequisites for AI adoption by Kumar et al. (2019). As a deliverable, the study proposes a theoretical framework that will guide marketing managers in utilizing AI at different stages of the customer journey. This thesis was conducted as a qualitative study due to the novelty and exploratory nature of the research topic. Altogether 14 experts – company representatives, AI service providers, and other experts – were interviewed to form a holistic view of the research phenomenon. The findings show that AI can be utilized in all customer journey steps, helping marketer obtain their goals within the stages. AI improves, automates, and optimizes marketing activities and can discover patterns and operate on a level a human would not be able to function. The importance of AI in marketing will grow, and the technology will become an integral part of different marketing applications and ways of working. Simultaneously, companies need to rethink their business models and existing organizational structures against the pitfalls of marketing AI, considering factors such as alignment with company goals, organizational culture, human resources, data, and privacy and ethical issues.
Thesis advisor
Blakaj, Hedon
artificial intelligence, customer journeys, AI and marketing, AI and customer journeys
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