Ordering breakfast or coffee requires thinking because you might like both Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks. A consumer may go through all five stages of the purchasing decision or just a few. If they know where to purchase coffee, they might skip the information search. If they have a favorite brand, they might skip evaluating other alternatives. For more complex purchases, a house, graduate school, or a car, consumers will go through the five stages of the decision-making process.
What is the Consumer Decision Process?
The purchase decision is the thought process and path that consumers take before they make a purchase.
The five stages of the Consumer Decision Process
Need Recognition: This occurs when you recognize a need and think of a product that meets this need. You wake up one day and realize that rent is too high, and buying a home, may solve this problem. At this stage, the consumer does not know if buying a house will solve the problem, but they want to change their current situation.
Information Search: Phase 2 begins when you start searching for information, asking friends and colleagues. Google searches and other resources you can utilize to find information to solve the problem. You turn to realtor.com, Zillow, and other sites such as blogs to learn more about buying a home.
Evaluation of Alternatives: Now that the consumer has done the research and is overwhelmed with brands claiming to be experts. The consumer starts making comparisons between realtors, homes, locations, and much more. Consumers will evaluate based on product attributes, satisfaction, and belief in a brand, among other things.
Purchase: Narrowing down your list and deciding what meets your needs, you purchase a home from Zillow.com because your friend recommended them; the reviews backed this up, and their mortgage rates are lower than other sites.
Post Purchase Behavior: In the last stage, you have moved into your new house, and you are either satisfied or dissatisfied with the home, the realtor, or something else. If you are satisfied, you may write great reviews or recommend the realtor or Zillow to others. If you are dissatisfied, you may do the opposite. A critical stage, which may affect future purchases, brands, and marketers should do their best to satisfy the customer from initial contact.
Brands should avoid overstating their product’s performance or attributes; this will lead to dissatisfaction and backfire. In addition to word of mouth, consumers spend hours, days, weeks, or months researching product information. For big purchases, consumers are going through the five stages, including comparing your brand to other brands to choose the best product that will meet their needs. Brands should make genuine claims about their product that should meet or exceed expectations, which turns consumers into loyal customers and brand ambassadors. The last stage is just as important as the first four stages; depending on product satisfaction, the customer may turn into a brand advocate that spreads the word and gets you more customers. Remember, word of mouth is essential, and most of us trust our friends and colleagues more than strangers writing reviews on the internet.