The Consumer Decision Process

Making it work for you

Have you checked your marketing strategy and tactics using the framework of the 5-step Consumer Laurie Dwyer May2014 blog WordCloudPurchase Decision Process? Ensuring that efforts are in place at every stage will maximize your ability to attract customers, increase the probability of a sale, close the deal, and boost repeat sales. Use the following checklist to assess your current efforts:

Step 1: Problem Recognition. Consumers buy products to solve problems. Without recognition of a problem there is no need to make a decision.

  1. Does your product solve a problem?
  2. Is the problem an active problem (one the consumer is already aware of) or an inactive problem (one you need to help them recognize)?
  3. Do your marketing communications relate the benefits the consumer gains as a result of using your product to solve their problem?

Step 2: Information Search. Once a problem is identified, the consumer searches (internally from memory and externally using different sources) for information that will help solve his problem. The amount of search depends on purchase involvement. Consumers search for the appropriate evaluative criteria, alternative solutions and the desired performance level of each evaluative criterion.

  1. Do you know what evaluative criteria consumers use to rate your product and how they prioritize them?
  2. Is your brand in the consideration set when consumers think of the products that can solve their problem?
  3. Do you present your product in the best light through your communications against those evaluative criteria?
  4. Is the information on your product easy to find? (e.g. your website, through SEO, point of sale information, advertisements)

Step 3: Alternative Evaluation and Selection.  Consumer decisions are often irrational, not often optimal due to knowledge and time constraints and are usually malleable. They can be circular, emotional and incomplete. This situation present the marketer with an opportunity to persuade.  Consumers make choices based on features, emotional attraction and/or a holistic view of the product (does this product “make me look good?”).

  1. Do your customers make choices on your product based on utility or some type of emotionally-based pleasure?
  2. Do you know how you rate against your competitors when consumers compare you, especially when it comes to the top three evaluative criteria?
  3. Do you provide helpful information (on your website, in your marketing communications materials) that helps the consumer make a decision? Is this information easy to find, understandable and does it show your product in the best light?

Step 4: Outlet Selection and Purchase. Ultimately the consumer will make an effort to select the product that best solves his problem. Once he decides, it is the marketer’s job to make sure the product is readily available, easy to find and in supply. Online and in-store shopping experiences are critical at this stage.

Step 5: Post-Purchase Satisfaction and Commitment. It is critical that a marketer understand how their product is used, evaluated and disposed of once the sale has taken place. Buyer’s remorse must be minimized and increasing return sales is paramount.

  1. Do you have a follow-up mechanism for touching base with customers who have purchased your product, especially in a high involvement purchase situation?
  2. Do your customers have a place to voice their reviews of your products?
  3. Do you actively listen and respond to concerns?
  4. Are customer concerns tracked, documented and used in your product planning process?

Consumers, depending on how involved they are in a purchase, will typically folloLaurie Dwyer May2014 Blog IMAGE for 5 step consumer purchasing processw these five steps.
Understanding what happens at each step and making sure the customer is taken care and guided through each step can increase the marketer’s ability to attract customers, increase the probability of a sale, close the deal, and boost repeat sales.

Laurie Dwyer, Rochester NYAuthor:  Laurie Dwyer

Owner: STRATEGIC INSITE, LLC – A management consulting firm specializing in strategic planning and marketing strategy development with emphasis on implementation and tactical execution.