Understanding the Consumer Decision Making Process

Understanding the Consumer Decision Making Process

Even if we aren’t aware of it, we are making decisions all the time. Some can be made quickly, without much deliberation, while others can be complex and require comparison, evaluation and often the influence of a recommendation to arrive at a solution. Purchase decisions are no different. That is why, when developing your business’s marketing strategy, it is important to understand the basic problems or needs of your target consumer to help differentiate your offering in the market. From the second that a consumer starts researching pre-purchase, they will have many options to sort through. How will you differentiate your marketing from the competitors? A key way to unlock the full potential of your marketing is to understand the path your consumers take to get to the buying situation.

This buyer behaviour model is a marketing tool that can help you to identify and trace the decision-making process of your consumers from start to finish. This process is broken down into 5 different steps which are explained below:

  1. Need Recognition

As it sounds, this step occurs when a consumer determines their needs. They may feel like they are missing something or that there is a gap that needs to be filled, and subsequently they will think of what product or kind of product would be able to meet this need. If you can determine when your target market develops these needs or wants, it would be an ideal time to advertise to them.

At this stage, having built brand awareness with your target market is vital. If you can be front of mind when a customer is seeking a solution, before they have even conducted any research, your business will have a huge head start. This step also highlights the importance of addressing customer pain points in your marketing efforts, creating a story that resonates with the consumer.

  1. Information Search

This is the research stage of the process. This process is constantly changing, from what used to involve walking through shop doors to now browsing the new shop fronts, online. This is where your marketing comes in. It is vital that your marketing is found by the consumer during their research. You will need to ensure that your content marketing strategy is strong, to help keep potential buyers educated. 

At this stage the consumer will begin a risk assessment. They may develop a pros and cons list to help make their decision. They will put in the time and effort to make sure they won’t regret their decision. Information is not only sought about the product, such as features, pricing, ease of use, etc, but also other peoples experiences with the product through recommendations.

  1. Evaluation of Alternatives

This step involves evaluating different alternatives available on the market. Once the customer knows what can satisfy their needs, they will start seeking out the best solution available. They may take into account different factors such as quality, price, product reviews etc, and then they will select a product that most satisfies their parameters. 

As the consumer evaluates their options, you need to ensure that your marketing speaks to their needs and interests. There are many ways to do this including building buyer personas to understand objections and challenges and tp personalise your content in response to buyer attributes.

  1. Purchase Decision

After all of the above steps, the consumer has decided to purchase from you, yay! At this stage, the consumer has already weighed up all the facts and has arrived at this decision based on the influence of your marketing efforts, personal experiences, emotional connections, or a combination. Now that you have guided someone through this stage, to purchase, you will want to duplicate this with other potential buyers and to do this you will need to understand what drove the consumer to make this decision, to understand the consumer decision-making process.

  1. Post Purchase Behaviour

This step refers to the analysis of the usefulness of your product for the consumer. Did the product deliver on the promises of your brand’s marketing efforts? Did the product meet or exceed customer expectations? 

If the product has met their expectations, not only will it boost the chances of them purchasing from you again, but they will potentially serve as an ambassador for your brand who can influence other potential consumers and hence, drive a bigger consumer base for your business. The same however goes for negative experiences, word of mouth is powerful and can steer potential consumers away!

Now that you have mapped out the steps of your consumer’s decision-making process, start looking forward! By understanding this process, you will gain the insights to optimse your marketing at every stage to get better results.