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A Guide To the 5-Step Consumer Decision-Making Process And How To Improve Each One Of Them

The COVID-19 pandemic is something much more than a health crisis. One of the major shifts the pandemic has given rise to is how social groups are reacting to each other, or should I say fighting back. It has dramatically shifted our whole way of life irrevocably. As predicted by COVID data analyzing spending patterns, this chaotic landscape has also heavily impacted individuals’ buying habits. 


Consumer behavior means taking a look at our purchasing habits. This includes people who are looking to purchase, use, evaluate, and dispose of products or services that will satisfy their needs in some way. What's even better about it is that it also takes into consideration emotional, mental, and behavioral responses that take place before or after the use of any product or service right before they're handed over to another person. 


Here are the 5 key stages of the consumer decision-making process: 


The buying process for consumers is important to understand, particularly if you are an entrepreneur setting out to market your product or service. There are various names people use for this process, including but not limited to the following: ‘the buyer journey’, ‘the buying cycle’, ‘the buying funnel’ or ‘the consumer purchase decision process’. 


1. Need recognition (awareness): This is a crucial step and it’s the first one for a reason- every sale begins with a customer-first being interested in a product and realizing that they need that product or service. 


In the Need Recognition Stage of Consumer Decision Making, a consumer becomes aware of their need for a service or good. There are two main reasons why there is the drive to buy: perceived needs and wants. Perceived Needs are taken care of by the individual themselves - they revolve around physiological and emotional states. Wants on the other hand aren’t necessarily essential, but rather revolve around things that make life more comfortable or convenient, such as buying a computer because you want it to work quickly for your job so you can get paid sooner! In other words, people may understand that they want something because it fits them at a deeper level but once they have acquired it, the desire has been satisfied and so what remains is simply a want.


2. Search for information (research): During this stage, consumers start looking for options and dive deep into researching various products. 


In this stage, you must be available to your consumers with every answer or query they might have regarding your product or service. 

For example, if a consumer is searching for mobile phones, here’s what they must be looking for: 


- Best mobile phones 2021

- Affordable phones or phones under 15,000

- Mobile phones with the best cameras 


Customers search for information based on their previous experiences with similar products, or by reading reviews online, comparing products on various sites and platforms, watching videos, and reading articles. Hence, the only way to make sure that consumers end up looking at your product is to be visible in places where they’re searching for their queries-preferably on the search results of google, amazon, and other review platforms. 


3. Evaluation of alternatives (consideration): At this stage, consumers will start comparing options to make a final decision. 


At this stage, consumers are aware of various alternatives to your products. They’re making comparisons based on factors such as features, functionality, pricing, and the like. During this time, consumers know about your product in its entirety. 


However, it is crucial at this stage that you optimize your site for consumers to stay longer and make sure that the user experience is smooth.


4. Purchasing decision (conversions): This is the stage where consumers are sure about what they want to purchase. 


The key here is to build trust and there are multiple ways to do that. Make sure to include reviews and testimonials on your site. It’s preferred that you choose to put video testimonials as that will allow users to witness your product in real-time and that will make it more believable. Ultimately, the idea is to get the consumer to make the purchase immediately and that happens when businesses give zero chance for consumers to abandon the cart. 


5. Post-purchase evaluation (re-purchase): Once the consumer has made a purchase, they evaluate their decision, decide whether the product or service was worth it or not, give it positive or negative feedback, and recommend the brand or service to other people. 


Now the consumer has bought the product and is evaluating their decision. The effect of this evaluation could be positive or negative depending upon how satisfied the consumer is. Consumers at this stage may consider returning your product or recommending it to others. 


We hope you enjoyed our article about the 5-step consumer decision-making process. We know that this process is important to understand for marketers and businesses alike. With the information from this blog, you can improve your marketing strategies by providing information that is more relevant to each step of the process.

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