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Consumer Decision-Making Process

The consumer decision making process consists of various stages.

The first step in the consumer decision making process is recognition of problem. The buying process starts when consumer recognizes the need to buy a product, say an automobile or car. For example, let's assume that a person recognizes that needs an automobile to reach office daily on time. To resolve this problem, he starts looking for solutions.

Marketers that understand the real needs and wants or problems and provide solutions to address such needs and resolve problems are the ones that become successful in the marketplace. It is essential for marketers to understand the underlying problem or need that consumers are trying to fulfil via the product or service to ensure that the delivered product or service exactly addresses those issue and provides maximum possible satisfaction to consumers. In today's competitive business environment, customer satisfaction is the ultimate goal of any marketer or organization as it helps in developing a loyal customer base, strong brand loyalty and increased chances of repeat and referral business.

The second step in the consumer decision making process is search for alternatives. The consumer search for various options available in the marketplace. The consumer looks out for various brands available in the marketplace and shortlists products that best suits his or her requirements. The consumer utilizes multiple channels to seek information, such as internet, newspapers, visit to stores, etc.

Marketers need to ensure strong visibility about their product by creating awareness among target consumers via extensive promotion, advertising and appropriate distribution strategies, so that product becomes visible to the consumers.

The next step is evaluation of alternatives. As consumer is trying to resolve his problem, it is assumed that he will rationally look out for problem solving benefits of the product or set of attributes that best addresses his or her needs and wants.

"there is no single, simple evaluation process applied by all consumers or by one consumer in all buying situations.

One dominant view, however, is to see the evaluation process as being cognitively driven and rational. Under this view, a consumer is trying to solve the problem and ultimately satisfying his/her need. In other words, he/she will look for problem-solving benefits from the product. The consumer, then, looks for products with a certain set of attributes that deliver the benefits. Thus, the consumer sees each product as a bundle of attributes with different levels of ability of delivering the problem solving benefits to satisfy his/her need. The distinctions among the need, benefits, and attributes are very important. One useful way to organize the relationships among the three is a hierarchical one." (Ken Matsuno, Undated)

Reference: Ken Matsuno(Undated); Consumers As Problem Solvers; Retrieved online from

Marketers need to ensure that their product not only addresses the real needs and wants of consumers, but also stand out among the bundle of offerings or numerous products available in the marketplace. Marketers need to highlight their unique "value proposition" and distinctive characteristics that makes them different in the marketplace. Marketers need to ensure via aggressive marketing tactics that consumers really understand the unique value proposition of the product and perceives it differently from other competing products.

The next step in the consume decision making process is purchase. The consumers implements his decision and completes the buying process by actually purchasing the product. Marketers need to ensure that the product is widely available to consumers and the consumer does not find it difficult to buy the product. The consumer may purchase immediately at a store or may purchase later, but the marketer need to ensure a smooth purchase experience to the consumers.

The next step in the consumer decision making model is post purchase evaluation. In today's world, marketers need to provide extensive after sales support to consumers to ensure that consumers feel right and good about purchasing their product and are not unsatisfied with the product. This ensures maximum possible customer satisfaction.

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Process of Consumer Decision-Making

Whether a consumer purchase a costly item or cheap item it always follow a process for making decision and that is called consumer decision-making process. By identifying this process marketers and retailers can attract customers in a more effective manner. In general the consumer decision-making process used by consumers includes five stages. This basic psychological process plays a prominent role in understanding how consumers actually make their buying decision (Peter & Donnelly, 2002). By understanding consumers learning, choosing, using and even disposing of a product, a marketer can effectively design its product according to the needs of its customers.
Consumer Decision-Making Process
Whenever a consumer makes decision in regard to its purchase, he follows subsequent process:
• Problem Recognition: The first and the foremost step in this process is that, when a consumer recognizes a problem or need actuated by internal or external stimuli. With an internal stimulus, one of the person's normal needs-hunger, thirst, sex rises to a threshold level and becomes a drive and a need can be aroused by an external stimulus. So, we can say that at this stage consumer finds a need.
• Information Search: ...

Solution Summary

Consumer decision-making process is examined.