Trying to determine how consumers make decisions is at the core of strategy for marketers as the work to maneuver the various principles of marketing. Consumers have their own maneuvering to do as they seek to determine which products and services to buy or not buy, which brands to use, and which brands to ignore. This paper will examine the major decision-making elements that guide the decision making processes used by consumers and to provide clarity when attempting to find the right mix of variables to market a product or services.
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...
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