MM/U1 Topic 6 Steps in Consumer Decision Making
Consumer decision making process involves the consumers to identify their needs, gather information, evaluate alternatives and then make their buying decision. The consumer behavior may be determined by economic and psychological factors and are influenced by environmental factors like social and cultural values.
The consumer decision making behavior is a complex procedure and involves everything starting from problem recognition to post-purchase activities. Every consumer has different needs in their daily lives and these are those needs which make than to make different decisions. Decisions can be complex, comparing, evaluating, selecting as well as purchasing from a variety of products depending upon the opinion of a consumer over a particular product. This renders understanding and realizing the basic problem of the consumer decision making process for marketers to make their products and services different from others in the marketplace.
5 Stages of Consumer Decision Making Process
The buying behavior model is one method used by marketers for identifying and tracing the decision making process of a customer from the start to the end. The process is categorized into 5 different stages which are explained as follows:
Need recognition occurs when a consumer exactly determines their needs. Consumers may feel like they are missing out something and needs to address this issue so as to fill in the gap. When businesses are able to determine when their target market starts developing these needs or wants, they can avail the ideal opportunity to advertise their brands. An example who buys water or cold drink identifies their need as thirst. Here; however, searching for information and evaluating alternatives is missing. These consumer decision making steps are considered to be important when an expensive brand is under buying consideration such as cars, laptops, mobile phones, etc.
The information search stage in the buyer decision process tends to change continually as consumers require obtaining more and more information about products which can satisfy their needs. Information can also be obtained through recommendations from people having previous experiences with products. At this level, consumers tend to consider risk management and prepare a list of the features of a particular brand. This is done so because most people do not want to regret their buying decision. Information for products and services can be obtained through several sources like:
- Commercial sources: advertisements, promotional campaigns, sales people or packaging of a particular product.
- Personal sources: The needs are discussed with family and friends who provided product recommendations.
- Public sources: Radio, newspaper and magazines.
- Experiential sources: The own experience of a customer of using a particular brand.
Evaluation of Alternatives
This step involves evaluating different alternatives that are available in the market along with the product lifecycle. Once it has been determined by the customer what can satisfy their need, they will start seeking out the best option available. This evaluation can be based upon different factors like quality, price or any other factor which are important for customers. They may compare prices or read reviews and then select a product which satisfies their parameters the most.
When all the above stages have been passed, the customer has now finally decided to make a purchasing decision. At this stage, the consumer has evaluated all facts and has arrived at a logical conclusion which is either based upon the influence from marketing campaigns or upon emotional connections or personal experiences or a combination of both.
Post Purchase Behavior
The purchase of the product is followed by post-purchase evaluation which refers to analyzing as to whether the product was useful for the consumer or not. If the product has matched the expectations of the customer, they will serve as a brand ambassador who can influence other potential consumers which will increase the customer base of that particular brand. The same is true for negative experiences; however, it can halt the journey of potential customers towards the product.