Behind the final act of making a purchase exists a multi-layered and sometimes complex decision process. The purchase decision process is the steps a buyer follows when making a choice about a product or service to buy. The five stages of consumer behavior are: problem recognition (perceiving a need), information search (seeking value), alternative evaluation (assessing value), purchase decision (buying value), and post-purchase behavior (value in consumption or use).
When assessing problem (perceiving a need) one must recognize the difference between ideal and factual situations (want versus need) that triggers a decision. This part of the process can be as simple as needing to replace an empty milk carton or wanting a different type of milk (chocolate milk versus regular).
The information search (seeking value) stage clarifies the options available to a consumer and may include internal information searching (recalling previous experience with a certain brand or product) and external information searching (when previous experience or knowledge is insufficient). External information searching can include asking family and friends for a product or service recommendation, researching product rating organizations or other public sources, or researching marketer-dominated resources such as company websites or visiting a store and speaking with salespeople.
The alternative evaluation (assessing value) stage suggests...