Consumer decision-making process can be viewed as the stages that buyers undertake while deciding on which product to buy and which one not to buy. The consumer decision process is an important aspect of marketing as it is useful in the development of the marketing strategy of a given product. It plays this crucial role as it helps the marketer to consider the consumer satisfaction process.
Studies have revealed that consumer takes five important stages while coming to a decision on making any purchase. These stages include recognizing needs & problem awareness, search for information, evaluation of available alternatives, making a purchase and finally carrying out the post-purchases analysis/ evaluation. It is important to discuss in details what takes place in each of the five stages in order to have a deeper understanding of the whole process of the consumer’s decision-making (Foxall, 2005).
Stage 1: recognition of needs and problem awareness.
In this stage the consumer indentifies the need he wants to satisfy through making a certain purchase. Being aware of the problem which he/ she wants to satisfy is very important as this will determine the type of a product he/she will purchase in order to satisfy his/ her needs. For example, a consumer may realize that she is hungry. Therefore she is faced with the problem of a hunger and her need in this situation is to buy food to fill her stomach.
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Stage 2: Search for information.
This stage involves the search of information on various products that are available and this search can help the consumer to meet/ satisfy his/her needs. The information may be obtained from various sources, such as newspaper, internet among others. For example, in case of the lady who realizes that she has a need of feeding her stomach, she will be searching for information about the various food products that can help her to solve the problem at hand.
Stage 3: Analysis/ evaluation of available alternatives.
This stage involves analyzing various products that are available in the market and how effectively they are to meet the consumer needs. For example, in our case the lady will be considering various food stuffs that are available in the market in terms of the cost and level of satisfaction she will get from each product.
Stage 4: Making purchase.
In this stage the consumer makes a purchase depending on the choice she has made in the stage three. The consumer takes in account factors such as cost, available substitutes and considers how each product will fulfill his/her needs.
Stage 5: Post evaluation process.
This is the final stage of the consumer decision-making process. It involves analysis of how effective the product has met the needs of the consumer. This stage influences the consumer’s future repurchase of the same product.
The consumer’s decision process is very important to the marketer as it helps the marketer to consider the whole process rather than consider just the consumer purchasing decision. When the marketer has an understanding of how the consumer behaves while making a decision on which product to purchase, the marketer is able to formulate various strategies that will induce the customer to make the decision of purchasing the company’s product rather than purchase the competitor’s product (Howard & Sheth, 1968).
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The marketer is also able to understand the various channels of communication where he/ she can place the product adverts. The stage of the information search on the availability of a product is very crucial. If the marketer places the information about a product in the wrong channels which are not available to the consumers then the level of purchases for the product will be low.
The process also helps the marketer to understand whether the consumers are satisfied with the company’s product. If they are not, he analyses the weaknesses in the product in terms of packaging, production and tastes, thus he is able to make recommendation on what should be done to improve the quality of the product (Blackwell, Miniard & Engel, 2006).
The marketer is able to understand the consumer’s taste and preferences from this model of the consumer decision-making process. This plays a crucial role as the marketer will advice the production department on what should be done to the product to suit the taste and preferences of the consumers. This translates into increased market share which in turn leads to increase in the company’s sales volumes. The process also helps the marketer to understand how the prices charged on various products influence the consumer’s decision of purchasing a given product.
The consumer satisfaction is a very crucial component of marketing. It helps in the product innovation and brings new changes to the existing products. The consumer satisfaction process determines how the consumer buying behavior will be changing in future thus determining the marketing strategies that will be adopted to win the consumers’ confidence in the company’s products.
The product re-innovation depends on the feedback the marketer receives from the customers’ post-purchase evaluation. The type of behavior that the consumer exhibits after the post-purchase analysis will give an indication to the marketer on whether the customers are getting the required satisfaction from the product in hand. If a positive feedback is received the marketer will just advise the production department to improve the quality of the product in order to attract more customers in the market. On the other hand, if the feedback received is negative the marketer as well as the production department will have to sit down and decide on what should be done to the product in order to meet the customer tastes and preferences.
In conclusion, consumer decision-making process is an important tool to any given company as it helps in scanning the marketing environment, development of marketing strategy and finally the competitive advantage strategy. Therefore, it’s up to the marketing team if any given company understands the whole consumer decision-making process rather than just looking at purchasing decision part only.