How do we choose? I mean, what makes us decide what to buy, which products to buy, and which brands to buy them from? Well, there are a multitude of factors that contribute to a general consumer’s decision and eventual evaluation of a product, but how do we get there?
We’ve created a brief guide to consumer decision-making and the journey towards a purchase, so that you can understand what it is that you and many small businesses alike, can expect from customers when they’re in the crucial stages of decision-making.
Three levels of consumer decision-making:
- Extensive problem-solving
- Consumers have not yet established a criteria for evaluating the product
- They haven’t narrowed the number of brands to be considered
- Limited problem-solving
- Consumers have established a basic criteria for product evaluation
- They haven’t fully established brand preferences
- Routinised-response behaviour
- Consumers have some experience with the product category
- They have a well established set of criteria for product evaluation
- They may search for a small amount of information or may purchase out of habit
A simple model of consumer decision-making:
Firms’ marketing strategies
The consumer does or does not understand what the certain needs they have that they need to be fulfilled.
Consumers rely on past experiences as an internal source of information, but if this is insufficient, then consumers undertake an external search of information, which can include: Internet, in-store, brochures, product reviews, salespeople, friends and family, packaging, advertising, and direct marketing.
Evaluation of alternatives
Consumers have a small number of brands that they prefer to choose from, and a certain criteria that they use to base their decision upon. The set of brands are most usually categorised into acceptable/unacceptable and the criteria is usually based on important product attributes.
- The Purchase
Consumers will (obviously) eventually decide whether or not to purchase a particular product. There are a few behaviours that we can learn from their ultimate decision:
- Trial purchases — some consumers purchase just to try a product, usually to evaluate the product and brand
- Repeat purchases — other consumers will find that the product is satisfactory and repurchases
- Long-term commitment purchases — some products require commitment, where a trial purchase is not possible; i.e. fridges, stoves, etc.
- Post-purchase evaluation
From prior expectations to the actual product performance, consumers track their journey and their perception is critical in evaluating the product — whether they’re satisfied, neutral, or dissatisfied.