The purchase decision is only the ‘perceptible’ part of an
intricate decision-making process by the consumer. But what happens prior to
and after this purchase? Which factors influence the choice of product
purchased by the consumer? Industrialists are dealing with the purchase
decisions of consumers that they make every day and it can help us to
understand what are the internal processes that consumers have to deal with
while on their way to making a decision of purchasing a particular product or service.
The buying decision:
The Buyer Decision Process is the decision-making process
undertaken by consumers in regard to a potential market transaction before,
during, and after the purchase of a product or service.
John Dewey, an American philsopher, psychologist and
educational reformer introduced 5 stages through which consumer go through
before considering a purchase. We will look at each step in detail. These are
.Problem or need recognition
.Evaluation of alternatives
Problem or need recognition:
This is the first and foremost stage of the Consumer Decision
Process where the consumer needs to identify his problem or need and being able
to make the decision accordingly, choosing what product or service is going to
satisfy his need. It is the most crucial stage as the without recognizing a
need an individual can never go forward for the purchase of a product.
A need can be
triggered by internal or external stimuli. Internal stimuli refer to a personal
perception encountered by the consumer, such as hunger, thirst, and so on. For
example, an elder man, being unable to walk by foot might be feeling a need to
purchase a bicycle. External stimuli can be referred to the outside influences
such as advertising or word-of-mouth. For example, with the changing weather
individuals might be considering buying warm jackets and hot coffee.
This, however, this creates an opportunity for the
marketers. By taking the time to “create a problem” for the customer the
marketers are gradually starting the buying process. To do this they start with
content marketing and split facts and testimonials of what their product or
service can proffer. They go on asking questions to pull the potential customer
into the buying process. Doing this assists a potential customer perceive that
they have a need which should be bought either on urgent basis or later on.
Marketing consists of all the procedures involved in delivering products into
the consumer’s hands. Businesses must need to make sure that the consumer’s
needs and their marketing strategies are befitting and appropriate. Those
businesses that correctly line up their consumers’ needs with their marketing
strategies are usually the ones that can anticipate higher sales and profits.
All the affluent businesses assess their consumers’ needs on a continuous
basis, to successfully meet both the existing and future demands and needs of
Information Search is the second stage in the Consumer
Decision Process during which a consumer searches for internal or external information.
Here any consumer who has identified his need will likely be convinced to begin
the search process. Once it’s acknowledged that there is an issue and they will
start looking for a solution. They will search for more or less information
based on the complexity of the choices to be made. The consumer pursues to make
their choice and assists their decision-making process with:
Internal information: This piece of information is already present in the memory
of consumer based on the previous experiences they have had with a product or
brand and the judgment they have of the brand.
External information: This is information on a product or
brand is received from friends or family or by overviews from other buyers or
from the media. It can either be directly taken from the employees or the
person they are having the transaction with.
As the information search tackles with both internal and
external data it is concerned to be highly concerned with prevention and solution
of the problems the customer might face while making a purchase. This gives
them a clear view and operates continuously as a reliable system as the
consumers are not relying on just one source but gathering information from
different means. It also tends to be future oriented.
It is greatly
observed that during the decision-making process buyers are more likely to
value their internal information and information from friends, family or other
consumers than advertisements, websites or a brochures etc.
Evaluation of alternates:
The third stage in Consumer Buying Process is the
evaluation of alternates. Once the information is collected the consumer is
free to make decision and choose among all the available alternates which are
most likely to provide him with the benefit he is hoping to achieve. The
comparison between substitutes is done by considering their objective
characteristics such as features and functionality or subjective
characteristics such as perceived value of a business or brand and their reputation.
This process can relatively be more time consuming than
the rest and the consumer can often face confusion while comparing different
products, reviewing prices, warranties, terms and conditions of sale and
therefore it can be referred to as extended problem solving.
This can be different from the routine problem solving
and must be given extra time and researches are done in order to ensure that
the purchase of product is beneficial in every way. This type of evaluation of
alternates is usually done while purchasing an expensive, high-risk product
such as a car.
In order for a marketing organization to increase the
probability that their brand is part of the evoked set for many consumers, they
need to comprehend what benefits the buyers are willing to get and
specifically, which features will be most to their decision-making process. It
is vital to note that consumers evaluate alternatives in terms of the all the
functional and psychological advantages which they offer. The company also
needs to inspect other brands of the customer’s deliberation set to arrange the
right plan for its own brand.
During this stage, consumers can be notably influenced by
their viewpoint as well as the degree of attachment that they might have with
the product. For example, if the customer attachment is more, he will evaluate
several brands, whereas if it’s less he may only consider one brand. If the
involvement is less, the buying activity is usually persistent, continual to a
certain extent and there is generally little difference between the brands.
Strong attachment does not exist between the consumer and the brand. Promotions
are uncomplicated and repetitive. Contrarily, high involvement buying involves
products with many differences. The behavior is more complicated and the research
is generally done in a detailed manner.
At the end, consumers must be able to efficiently judge
the worth of all the products or brands in their evoked set before they jump on
to the next step of the decision process.
The decisiveness of purchase falls almost at the middle
of the five stages of the consumer buying process. At this phase, the customer
has already investigated numerous options, they comprehend pricing and payment
options and they have already decided whether to move forward with the purchase
or not. Different consumers, no matter having similarities in certain aspects,
tend to make different purchase decisions.
According to Philip Kotler, Keller, Koshy and Jha (2009),
the final purchase decision, can be disrupted by two factors:
Negative feedback of other people and our degree of
motivation to accept that feedback. For example, after going through the need
recognition, information search, and alternative evaluation stages, an individual
might choose to buy a Canon EOS 50D camera, but a photographer friend or relative
might share negative feedback, which could intensely affect one’s personal
The decision may be distorted due to set of circumstances
that one did not foresee, such as losing a job or a retail store closing down
or a brand losing its popularity.
This is also the stage during which the consumer might
not to make the purchase at the moment. On the other hand, they may also decide
that they want to make the purchase at some time later perhaps because the
prices are no affordable or simply because they might feel more contented
However if the consumer has decided to make a purchase he
must have identified the need by now,
would have conducted research, collected information and being done with
evaluating alternates. All the stages that lead to a conversion have been finalized.
However, this doesn’t mean it’s a sure thing. A consumer could still be bewildered.
Marketing is just as major during this stage as during the previous.
Marketing to this stage is uncomplicated .Analyse your
brand’s purchase process online. Is it complicated? Are there lots of steps? Is
it taking too much time to load? Are you able to make the purchase just as
simply on a mobile device as on a desktop computer? Ask these censorious
questions and make adjustments accordingly. If the purchase process is too
difficult for the customers a business is easily going to lose revenue.
Post purchase behavior:
Post-purchase behavior is the terminal stage where the
customer evaluate whether he is contented or not with a purchase.
How the customer
feels about a purchase will remarkably effect whether he will go for the
purchase of the same product again or contemplate other products within the
brand collection. A buyer will also be able to influence the purchase
resolution of other buyers because he will probably feel impelled to share his
thoughts about the purchase.
Consumer behavior is affected by certain things,
including environmental and marketing factors, personal and psychological
factors, family and friends, and cultures and traditions etc. Businesses seek different
ways to unravel different trends so they can convince people most likely to go
for the purchase of their products in the most profitable way possible.
Businesses usually attempt to influence a consumer’s behavior with things that
are under their control such as the layout of a store, music, and availability
of wide range of products at suitable prices and most importantly advertising.
All the influences, temporary or enduring can greatly affect how consumers
behave— they either influence them to make a purchase, buy supplementary products, or to buy nothing at all.
dissonance is another form of buyer’s contrition that is usual and frequent at
this stage. It can be observed when the buyer may experience feelings of
post-purchase psychological tension, concern or anxiety. For example, the
customer might be forced to reconsider that whether he has made the right
decision or not. The advertisement of competitive product may also make them
question their decision. A customer’s need for a particular product could have
been vanish, most probably resulting from a change of heart or desires.
Some companies now
choose to engross their consumers with post-purchase communications in an
attempt to influence their feelings about their current and future purchases.
Presenting money back guarantees also aid to extend and enhance post-purchase
communications between the company and its customers. Other examples include
invitations to become part of a special and specified group of consumers who
buy a certain product. Another example is when customers are questioned for
their contact information at the point of bargain so they can be targeted later
with a follow-up call that acts as a checkup on the product’s performance and
consumer gratification. This strategy could help influence or reduce feelings
of cognitive dissonance or “buyer’s remorse” following a product purchase.
The aim of this
study was to examine how the 5 stages of consumer buying decision affect the
final purchase and how helpful these stages are in determining the consumer
choice and formulating the marketing strategies accordingly. Overall it was
highly observed that there is a deep connection between social, environmental, personal
and psychological factors and the decision making process. Marketers consider
all these factors and keeping in mind the current trend of the market, they choose
different ways to attract customers towards their products.