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Consumer Decision Making Process

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The consumer decision making process is happening every moment. Before a consumer makes an actual purchase the consumer decision making process is in full swing. This paper will summarize the elements that make up the consumer decision making process, the effect it has on consumers, as well as the way in which marketers can use this process to drive the actions of its current and potential customers.

The actions that a person takes before, during, after a purchase make up the consumer decision making process. This includes a number of physical, mental and social processes. These processes can be broken down into a number of key stages. By understanding this process, as well as the stages involved companies are able better market to their consumer base providing superior services and products.

In consumer decision making process there are five key stages. These stages are problem recognition, information search, alternative evaluation, purchase decision, and post-purchase behavior. While these by no means make up every feeling and emotion of the consumer, they do provide a framework and overview of the processes involved in a purchase decision.

Problem recognition in The Consumer Decision Making Process

This is the first stage in the cycle of the consumer decision making process. This stage is important because it is the foundation for all remaining stages. Problem recognition happens when the consumer realizes a need. The consumer notices a difference between their perceived ideas and reality. After this realization the consumer then makes a decision to correct the situation to meet his or her perceived ideas. An example of this would be the consumer noticing that their tank was low on gas. Once the consumer realizes they are out of gas he or she may recognize this as a problem. If the problem has been defined one can move into the next stage of the consumer decision making process.

Information Search in The Consumer Decision Making Process

This stage of the consumer decision making process is actually a two step process. The first step is the internal search. The consumer uses their memory of past experiences to recall a product that would fulfill their need. This works well for products or services that are frequently purchased. The second step is the external search. This step may be skipped if the consumer is successful in their internal search. The external search can include talking with friends or relatives, searching the internet or referring to print articles. The idea behind the external search is to lessen the risk involved in the purchase of an unknown product or service. Once the information search stage has been adequately fulfilled the consumer can move into the alternative evaluation phase.

Alternative evaluation

During this stage of the consumer decision making process the consumer is working as a problem solver. It is likely that a number of items will be evaluated to fit the perceived need of the consumer. The consumer will consider many factors such as brand name, prestige, functionality, and price. Each product will have its own benefits and attributes that have may or may not have the combined ability of fulfilling the consumer’s needs. After an adequate alternative evaluation effort has been made the consumer can then move into the next stage of the consumer decision making process, purchase decision.

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