Consumers today connect with brands in fundamentally new ways,
- Have you bought something today?
- Have you seen or heard an ad today?
- Have you consumed something today?
- Have you have talked about a product/ service today?
Every day, people form impressions of brands from touch points such as advertisements, news reports, conversations with family and friends, and product experiences. Unless consumers are actively shopping, much of that exposure appears wasted. But what happens when something triggers the impulse to buy? Those accumulated impressions then become crucial in shaping the purchase decision process.
Need recognition / Problem recognition
The need recognition is the first and most important step in the buying process. If there is no need, there is no purchase. This recognition happens when there is a gap between the consumers actual situation and the ideal or desired one.
Once the need is identified, the consumer begins to search for information about possible solutions to the problem. He will search more or less depending on the complexity of the decision and his level of involvement. (E.g. Buying milk requires less involvement and involves fewer information than buying a car.)
During his decision-making process, the consumer will pay more attention to his internal information and primary information from friends, family or other consumers. It will be judged as more “objective” than information from an advertisement, a seller’s speech or a commercial brochure of the product.
Once the information collected, the consumer will be able to evaluate the different alternatives that are available to him, evaluate what’s most suitable to his needs and choose the one he think is best for him.
In order to do so, he will evaluate their attributes on two aspects:
- The objective characteristics (such as the features and functionality of the product)
- The subjective characteristics (perception and perceived value of the brand by the consumer or its reputation).
Each consumer does not attribute the same importance to each attribute, it varies from one shopper to another. The consumer will then use the information to establish an evaluation criteria. Desirable or wanted features are used to rank the differentiate products available and evaluate which alternative will most satisfy him.
Now that the consumer has evaluated the different solutions and products available, he will be able to choose the product or brand that best fits his needs.
His decision will depend on the information and the selection made in the previous step based on the perceived value, product’s features and capabilities that are important to him. But his Consumer Buying Decision Process and his decision process may also depend or be affected by such things as the quality of his shopping experience or of the store (or online shopping website), the availability of a promotion, a return policy or good terms and conditions for the sale.
Post purchase behavior
The consumers satisfaction shapes his future buying behavior. A satisfied customer is very likely to become a loyal and regular customer. Especially for routine purchases with low level of involvement.
Positive or negative, consumers will also be able to share their opinion on the brand. Whether in their family or by word-of-mouth. Or on a much broader scale now with social networks or on consumer product review websites.