Steps in the Consumer Decision Making Process
The consumer decision-making process occurs when consumers identify their needs and then work towards purchasing the product. Consumers have to undergo this complex process by evaluating, comparing and understanding the best possible product that will fulfill their needs. There are five stages involved in the decision-making process. The steps are;
This step occurs when consumers identify their needs. In this case, the consumer feels there is a problem, and something is missing in their lives, and they need to address it to go back to normal. For instance, one may feel like having cold water whenever they have a problem of thirst. Consumers resort to directly purchasing items such as water without going through the other steps, like gathering information about the product and evaluation of alternatives.
This step occurs when an individual recognizes the need for a particular product, thus focuses on gathering as much information as possible. The customers can do information research through personal sources by discussing their needs with family members or friends. Also, they can gather information from commercial sources and experimental sources through advertisement and own experience, respectively. They can obtain information from public sources like magazines and radio. Using the information, consumers then list the features of the product to ensure that they make informed decisions before they purchase.
In this step, the consumers begin to evaluate the best possible alternatives to the product that the market presents. This means that the individual customers analyze the products based on price, quality, and any available factors that may influence the changes in customer behavior. In this case, consumers may try to answer questions of whether they need the product or not, and if it will fully satisfy their needs. Also, customers read through the reviews of the product while comparing prices and then choosing the one that presents the highest utility.
Based on the gathered knowledge, the customer then decides to buy the product and from a particular vendor or supplier. The purchasing decision is the ultimate conviction that an individual reaches after acquiring enough facts about the product. Also, the customer is aware of the presence of any shortcomings associated with the product. Notably, the customers at this stage have some emotional connections with the items, and their main focus is on owning them.
This is the stage where the customer evaluates the purchased product. It is the step where customers review the item they are using, and it is significant in the operation of the business as well as informing whether the product fulfilled the needs. It is also a crucial stage as it significantly influences the purchasing behavior of the other customers. In this case, then customers can be brand ambassadors if the products meet or exceed their expectations. However, negative experiences can discourage potential customers from purchasing certain brands.
Understanding the behavior of customers and their decision-making process is essential to the operation of any business entity. Marketers will be able to focus entirely on platforms that are more influential to their customers. Also, they will be able to understand the customers' experiences through their feedback, thus, helping in quality improvement.