Steps in Consumer Decision Making

The consumer’s decision making process is the way in which people gather and assess information and make choices among alternative goods, services, organizations, people, places, and ideas. It consists of the process itself and factors affecting the process.

The consumer decision making process consists of six basic stages. Factors affecting the decision making process are a consumer’s demographic, social, and psychological characteristics.

STIMULUS: A stimulus is a cue or drive meant to motivate a person to act. A stimulus can be any of the following: Social, Commercial, Noncommercial, Physical.

A prospective consumer may be exposed to any or all of these types of stimuli. If a person is sufficiently stimulated, he or she will go on to the next step in the decision process.

PROBLEM AWARENESS: During problem awareness, the consumer recognizes that the good, service, organization, person, place, or idea may solve a problem of shortage or unfulfilled desire. Many consumers are hesitant to react to unfulfilled desires because there are risks and the benefits may be hard to judge.

INFORMATION SEARCH: Information search involves listing alternatives that will solve the problem at hand and a determination of the characteristics of each. Search can be internal and/or external .As risk increases; the amount of information sought also increases. Once the information search is completed, it must be determined whether the shortage or unfulfilled desire can be satisfied by any alternative.

EVALUATION OF ALTERNATIVES: The alternatives are evaluated on the basis ofthe consumer’s criteria and the relative importance of these criteria. They are then ranked and a choice made.

PURCHASE - The purchase act involves the exchange of money or a promise to pay for a product, or support in return of ownership of a specific good, the performance of a specific service, and so on. Purchase decisions remaining at this stage center on the place of purchase,
Terms and Availability.

If the above elements are acceptable, a consumer will make a purchase.

POST-PURCHASE BEHAVIOR: Frequently, the consumer engages in post-purchase behavior. Buying one item may lead to the purchase of another. Re-evaluation of the purchase occurs when the consumer rates the alternative selected against performance standards. Cognitive dissonance, doubt that a correct purchase decision has been made, can be reduced by follow-up calls, extended warranties, and post-purchase advertisements.

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