Consumers are the centre of many marketers work. While the consumer is part of the marketing environment, it is also very important to recognise and understand the more personal and specific influences effecting consumers and the nature of the decision making process they use.
Research suggests that customers go through a five-stage decision-making process when making any purchase. This is summarised in the diagram below: Figure 1,
This model is important for anyone making marketing decisions. It ensures the marketers consider the whole buying process rather than just the purchase decision. This model implies that customers go through all stages in every purchase they make. However, in more routine purchases, such as cleaning products, customers often skip or reverse some of the stages. For example, a student buying a favourite hamburger would recognise the need which is hunger and go right to the ‘purchase decision’, skipping ‘information search’ and ‘evaluation’. However, the model becomes far more useful when it comes to understanding any purchase that requires some thought and deliberation. The buying process starts with need recognition. At this stage, the buyer recognises a problem or need (e.g. I am hungry) or responds to a marketing stimulus (e.g. you pass Starbucks and are attracted by the aroma of coffee and chocolate muffins). An “aroused” customer then needs to decide how much information is required. If the need is strong and there is a product or service that meets the need close to hand, then a purchase decision is likely to be made there and then. If not, then the process of information search begins. A customer can obtain information from several sources:
Personal sources, such as family and friends
Experimental sources such as handling and examining the product •
Public sources, such as newspapers and television
Commercial sources, such as advertising, retailers and packaging
The usefulness and influence of these sources of...
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