Buyer Decision Process

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1. Introduction
Whether marketers understand how customers make their purchase decision is a very important issue for a company. It can bring numerous influences to companies for establishing an appropriate marketing strategy. Therefore, the research of each stage of buyer decision process is relevant for all the marketers. Teo and Yeong (2003) point out that the setting up of buyer decision process model can help managers to understand and forecast consumer behaviours, and thereby they can make effective decision for providing more acceptable offers to customers. Kotler, Brown, Burton, Deans and Armstrong (2010) also hold the same view and state that there are five main steps of buyer decision process, as outlined in Figure 7.8. Firstly, consumer decision process starts from realizing to distinguish factual state and desired state (problem recognition), and then seeking useful information to solve the problem (information search). Moreover, estimating the benefits and drawbacks of each possible solution by using the information gathered to find out which one is more effective to solve the problem (evaluation of alternatives). After evaluation of alternatives, the consumer will decide to buy the most favorite offer (purchase decision). At last, the post-purchase behaviour of customers is influenced by the degree of enjoyment generated from using the product (Butler and Peppard, 1998, p. 603). They also assert it is more likely that consumers purchase a product follow each steps one by one when they face consumption of a new product or in a new environment that they have no experience about it. For example, someone wants to buy a new toothpaste, because he or she has experience of using one specific brand of toothpaste, then the searching of information and evaluation of alternatives will be instead of going to purchase that brand of toothpaste directly (Kotler, Brown, Burton, Deans and Armstrong, 2010, p.222). Furthermore, there are several factors which can affect each step of the process need to be considered. Problem recognition

Information search
Evaluation of alternatives
Post-purchase behaviour
Purchase decision

Figure 7.8, p.222, Kotler (2010)

2. Buyer decision process
2.1 Problem recognition
Initially, the definition of each step is helpful for comprehending the buyer decision process. Kotler et al. (2010) define that “the first stage of the buyer decision process in which the consumer recognizes a problem or need” (p. 222). They also mention that there are two stimuli can affect the need, they are internal (e.g. thirst) and external stimuli (television program). In fact, the problem is caused by the difference between factual states and desired states of a need (Teo and Yeong, 2003, p. 351). The consumption can be encourage by an increase in financial situation of a person can act as an excellent example to explain external stimuli (Butler and Peppard, 1998, p.604).

2.2 Information search
Following the problem recognition, collecting information is the next stage which will happen when there is a driving force for customers to obtain available information to solve the problem. Kotler et al (2010) state there are four sources for information search. “These include personal source (family, friends, neighbours, acquaintance), commercial sources (advertising, salespeople, dealers, packaging, displays), public sources (mass media, online comparison websites) and experiential sources (handling, examining, using the product)” (p. 223). Hu, Huhmann and Hyman (2007) mention that the experience, the amount of current knowledge and the capacity of judging brands in a product range can influence the information search of consumers. They also clarify that information search can be internal and external. Inspecting information from personal memory is internal search and external search is collecting information from the environment. For instance, someone seek the information about the Toyota cars based on...
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