Consumer Buying Decision Process

April 28, 2018

People decide whether to buy a product or not. There are many parameters which are evaluated before such decision is made. Every consumer goes through a process, which leads to a purchase of a product. Depending on the product type, the duration of this process varies. It may range from few seconds (Impulse Buying), to days(Groceries), to months (Car, TV, etc.), or even years (House, Land, etc.). The process consists of five different stages

Consumer Buying

Problem Recognition

Consumers recognize problems in the for of need, or a physical cue or stimulus. A person looks at the fuel gauge of his/her car, and knows that he/she should re-fuel. A person smells roasted coffee beans and might be induced to drink coffee. Such visual, or other physical cues, trigger problem or need recognition.

Information Search

In this stage, the consumers look for solutions, to their problems or needs. This can come in the form of past purchase decision, or the consumer may also look for advice from family or friends. For expensive products, the consumer may research the product online, read reviews, and may be also induced to go and see the product and feel it (Test Drives for cars, TV demonstrations, etc.)

Evaluation of Alternatives

Here the consumers evaluate the purchase options based on the technical specifications, product attributes, and personal factors like brand preference, personal experience, testing/sampling. Consumer/Company reviews of the products influence the consumer's evaluation at this stage.

Purchase Decision

A consumer's decision to buy also includes whether to buy?, Where to buy?, and When to buy?. In case of routine goods like groceries, the consumer might go to his/her favorite store and buy. But in the case of white goods, and brown goods, the consumer may browse multiple stores. They evaluate the stores based on past experience, ambiance, helpfulness of sales staff, visual appeal, offers, and special discounts.

Post Purchase Evaluation

Immediately after purchase, the consumer mentally ranks the whole buying experience, and satisfaction. This includes decision on whether he/she likes the store, or whether he/she likes the product and the quality. Such evaluation determines whether a consumer will buy the product or brand again, or visit the store again. Consumers who are happy with the product that they purchased, and the buying experience, will become repeat customers, and they are more likely to tell others about the experience

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