The consumer buying process or consumer decision making process is the process by which consumers evaluate and identify their needs; analyse to solve these needs and collect information; evaluate alternatives available options and make a purchasing decision and lastly evaluate their purchasing decision post purchase.
For example: when we are buying a car, we consider what type of car do we need, we conduct research and compare the options and alternatives that are available before making a decision to buy; and afterwards we often rethink and evaluate if we made the right decision.
“Consumer behaviour refers to the actions and decision processes of people who purchase goods and services for personal consumption.”-Peter D. Benett
“Consumer behaviour is the process whereby individuals decide what, when, where, how and from whom to purchase goods and services.”-Walters and Pau
IMPORTANCE OF CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR
The study of consumer behaviour helps the marketers to understand and analyse the way consumers behave while making a purchase.
- Increase revenue
The marketers can improve their sales figures when they study the consumer behaviour. The marketers can also make changes to the way they sell their products according to the consumer buying behaviour.
- Brand equity
By analysing consumer behaviour, brands decide on restructuring itself, to change its image in the mind of the customers, thereby they get higher turnovers.
- Market trends
As the market is dynamic in nature, studying the consumer behaviour is the first indicator of it. The recent shift towards environment friendly products and sustainable living is being observed by the marketers.
- Segmentation and targeting
When a marketer is observing consumer behaviour, it is easier to segment and target its consumer. For example., if Audi’s current customers have an income of above 40 lakhs a year, then its future customers will also be with the same income.
With the help of consumer buying behaviour, it is possible to forecast the future demand or sales. The company saves warehousing cost, marketing and manufacturing cost, ensures proper utilisation of resources by studying the consumer buying behaviour.
- Technological advancement
It is important to study the consumer behaviour to know what the customer wants and be aware of introduction of new products with technological advancements.
STAGES OF CONSUMER BUYING PROCESS
- Problem recognition
This is the first and most important step of the consumer decision-making process. Need recognition results in a want. Once a consumer recognises a want, they gather information to find ways to fulfil that want.
For a marketer, this is an opportunity as they can identify the problem or need and solve that specific problem for its customer through its products or services.
Example: Jack lost his cell phone. Hence, he decides to buy a new cell phone.
- Information search
Once a consumer I identifies the problem, they start looking for information to find a solution to their problem. Most people will turn to friends, family members and colleagues for recommendations or they may browse through options at a physical location or consult online resources, such as google or customer services.
Example: Jack searched the e-commerce apps, websites and visited nearby retail outlets. His friends, family recommended some brands and models.
- Evaluation of alternatives
In this stage, customers compare other options that are available to them to ensure that their decision is the right one. It is during this stage that businesses showcase their advantages and compare themselves with their competitors.
The evaluation of a consumer in this stage is influenced by two major characteristics:
- Objective: features, price, functionality, ease of use.
- Subjective: previous experience of a brand, input or reviews from past customers.
Example: After a detailed research, Jack figured out that he wanted 1+ phone. In addition, he was looking for a vendor providing mobile cover for free. Jack filtered three vendors offering above features in his budget.
- Purchase decision
At this stage, the customer has evaluated the multiple alternatives, the pricing and payment options and they decide to purchase the product or not. At this point, customers want a sense of security. They should be reminded of the need or problem that brought them here in the first place.
Example: Jack purchased the phone from the third vendor as he was offering two free mobile covers with the phone.
After the research has been completed, the customer has decided to make a purchase. Business should focus on making the buying process as simple as possible and business should also consistently monitor their checkout process and remove any signs of inefficiency that would make a customer leave.
Example: Jack made the payment and purchased the cell phone satisfying all his needs.
- Post-purchase evaluation
After the purchase is made, customers evaluate whether the decision they made satisfies them or not.
Businesses must focus on providing good customer service; send follow-up emails; surveys; provide after sales services; provide discounts for repeat customers.
Example: Jack was satisfied with his cell phone and recommended the same to all his friends and family members.
CONSUMER DECISION MAKING PROCESS EXPLAINED WITH AN EXAMPLE
STAGE ONE: PROBLEM RECOGNITION
Priya’s refrigerator continues to shut off randomly and leaks water all over the floor. Because of this, she decides to purchase a new refrigerator.
STAGE TWO: INFORMATION SEARCH
Priya goes online and looks at refrigerator models from different retailers. Priya also takes recommendations from her friends and her brother and she pays attention whenever any kitchen appliance advertisement appears on TV.
STAGE THREE: EVALUATION OF ALTERNATIVES
After researching on different refrigerators, Priya narrows her options to two retailers that have similar models.
STAGE FOUR: PURCHASE DECISION
Priya decides to purchase the refrigerator from the second retailer as the second retailer had better reviews and the refrigerator had more features than expected.
STAGE FIVE: PURCHASE
Priya purchased her new refrigerator.
STAGE SIX: POST-PURCHASE EVALUATION
After having her new refrigerator for six months, Priya concludes it functions well. She gives a positive review online and decides to return to the same retailer for any future purchases.
FACTORS INFLUENCING CONSUMER BUYING BEHAVIOUR
- Psychological factors
Human psychology is influenced by major factors like perception, motivation, learning, beliefs and attitudes.
- Social factors
Humans are social beings and they try to imitate other humans around them to be socially accepted in the society. Hence, their buying behaviour is influenced by other people around them. Social factors include family, reference groups, roles and status.
- Cultural factors
Each individual lives in a complex cultural and social environment, hence their buying behaviour is influenced by the overall cultural context around them. Cultural factors include culture, subculture, social class, race and religion, tradition.
- Personal factors
The personal factors include age, occupation, lifestyle, social and economic status, gender of the consumer. Personal factors differ from individual to individual, thereby producing different perceptions and consumer behaviour.
- Economic factors
Economic situation of a country or a market greatly influence the consumer buying habits and behaviour. Some of the economic factors are: Personal income, family income, consumer credit, liquid assets, savings.
Consumer behaviour process is a complex process that is influenced by various factors. The consumer buying model provides a structured way of analysing the consumer buying behaviour. Marketers must understand the relevance of their product and study the consumer behaviour around that product.
With the increasing use of social media in the current times and the dependency of consumers on mobile technology, marketers can adopt the new technology with the consumer behaviour models to analyse and control the consumer behaviour process.
Consumer behaviour by Ghai RK and Singh Gurapratap
consumer behaviour- buying, having and being by Michael Solomon
consumer behaviour and marketing research by Nair Suja
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