The stages of decision making

How consumers make decisions is to understand the process of the internal influences that affect the consumer. The act of making a consumer decision consists of three stages.

1. Need Recognition
development Reds Tips 03The recognition of a need is likely to occur when a consumer is faced with a problem.
There are two different problem recognition styles:
1. Actual state types - a consumer who perceives that they have a problem when the product fails to perform satisfactorily.
2. Desired state types - the desire for something new may trigger the decision process.

Also, need or problem recognition can be viewed as simple or complex.
Simple - needs that occur frequently e.g.. printer ink cartridges.
Complex - problem develops over time eg. new computer with faster speed and larger hard drive that will handle the new upgrade software.

2. Pre-purchase search
The consumer senses a need for information upon which to base his choice. The consumer uses personal long-term memory first, family, friends and then impersonal such as newspapers, magazines, consumer reports, direct mail brochures and information from product advertising.
It's important that your advert will be seen. One of the main reasons why a company is experiencing a reduction in market share is because there is no advertising. An ad not seen will not be in the short term memory of the buyer.

3. Evaluation
When evaluating potential alternatives, consumers use two types of information:
1. the 'list' of brands - the implication for marketers is that promotional techniques should be designed to impart a favourable and relevant product image to target consumers.
2. the criteria to evaluate the brands would be the important product attributes such as:
Personal computer - processing speed, hard disc size, memory, type of display, price, laptop or desktop.

Nine out of ten shoppers who go to the store for frequently purchased items have a specific shopping strategy for saving money:
Practical loyalists - look for ways to save on brands and products that they would buy anyway.
Bottom line shoppers - buy the lowest priced item, with little or no regard to brand.
Opportunistic switchers - use coupons or sales to decide among brands and products that fall within their personal likes.
Deal hunters - look for the best bargain and are not brand loyal.
Marketers need to brand the product in such a way that the attributes/benefits are displayed prominently so the customer can make the decision without any referrals and feel good about the purchase.
Understanding how the consumer makes their decisions is useful to marketers when developing a promotional campaign. The message may even suggest to consumers how to make the decision.

Post-purchase Evaluation
As consumers use a product they evaluate its performance in light of their own expectations. Consumers as part of the post-purchase analysis, try to reassure themselves that their choice was a wise one. They attempt to justify their decision by adopting one of the following strategies;

They may rationalise the decision by being wise.
They may seek advertisements of their choice and avoid those of competitive brands.
They may attempt to persuade friends or neighbours to buy the same brand.
They may turn to other satisfied owners for reassurance.

The degree of post-purchase analysis that the consumer undertakes is depended upon the importance of the product decision and the experience in using the product. If the analysis is positive they will probably buy it again.

It is important that the personal selling staff help the new owners in evaluating their product and use the feedback for future customer relations and new upgrades or innovations.