The Consumer or Buyer Decision-Making Process is the method used by marketers to identify and track the decision-making process of a customer journey from start to finish. It is broken down into five individual stages:
1. Need Recognition
The customer decision process begins with need identification. Whether we act to resolve a particular problem depends upon two factors: the magnitude of the discrepancy between what we have and what we need, and the importance of the problem. This involves the concept of consumer motivation, which is the internal drive consumers experience to fulfill conscious and unconscious wants and needs. Once the problem is recognized, it must be defined in such a way that the consumer can actually initiate the action that will bring about a relevant solution.
2. Information Search
The next step is the information search and processing. After a need is recognized, the prospective consumer may seek information from family, friends, personal observation, consumer reports, salespeople, or mass media. The promotional component of the marketer’s offering is aimed at providing information to assist the consumer in their problem-solving process. If the buyer can retrieve relevant information about a product, brand, or store, he or she will apply it to solve a problem or meet a need.
The criteria used in the evaluation of alternatives vary from consumer to consumer. One consumer may consider price the most important factor while another may put more weight upon quality or convenience. The search for alternatives is influenced by such factors as time and money costs, how much information the consumer already has, the amount of the perceived risk if a wrong selection is made, and the consumer’s disposition toward particular choices.
During the purchase phase of the decision-making process, the consumer may form an intention to buy the most preferred brand because he has evaluated all the alternatives and identified the value that it will bring him. Anything marketers can do to simplify purchasing will attract buyers. Providing basic product, price, and location information through labels, advertising, personal selling, and public relations is an obvious starting point. Product sampling, coupons, and rebates may also provide an extra incentive to buy.
5. Post-Purchase Evaluation
A consumer’s feelings and evaluations after the sale come into play during the post-purchase phase. These feelings can influence customer retention and influence what the customer tells others about the product or brand. The marketer may take specific steps to reduce post-purchase dissonance. Advertising that stresses the many positive attributes or confirms the popularity of the product can be helpful.
The Customer Decision Process includes 5 stages: need recognition, information search, evaluation, purchase and post-purchase evaluation.