There are five steps every consumer takes when making a purchase. In the marketing world we call this the “Purchase Decision Process”. The amount of time spent in each step really depends on the product or service being purchased, whether the customer has ever made a similar purchase before and how important the customer considers the purchase to be. For example, you can safely assume that a customer will run through the purchase decision process far quicker when purchasing a new brand of toothpaste, as opposed to a new car.
The purchase decision process steps are:
1. Need recognition
2. Information search
3. Alternate evaluation
4. Purchase decision
5. Post purchase behaviour
To assist you in understanding how each step works, let’s look at an example: Debra has identified that she needs to get a haircut (Step 1). Her current hairdresser has retired, so Debra asks friends for recommendations and completes a Google search of hairdressers nearby to her home. She even searches for the hairdressers on Facebook and looks at their business pages (Step 2). She then compares each one against a set of her chosen evaluative factors, this may include price, location and reviews (Step 3). How each hairdresser compares will influence her final purchase decision. Debra chooses the hairdresser who ranked highest (against her evaluative factors) and books an appointment (Step 4). After the hair cut Debra compares her experience against her expectation, which most likely will be based on her previous experience with her former hairdresser (Step 5).
Depending on how Debra feels about her hair cut will determine Debra’s next steps. She may choose to leave an online review (good or bad), talk to friends about her experience and even complete the steps again in eight weeks, if she didn’t feel the new hairdresser lived up to her expectations.
As a value creator, your sensitivity to a consumers consumption experience directly affects your success of repeat business and the most influential promotional marketing tool a business cant pay for – word of mouth.
Think about your business and your ideal customer, how easy is it for them to locate you (Step 2)? How would you rank against your competitors (Step 3) and if you are lucky enough to win the customer, will their experience with you match their expectation (Step 5)?
You’ll get every business decision correct, if your first consideration is “How does this impact my customer?”
PRO TIP – It’s important to remember that price is not always the deciding factor. Think about yourself when you complete these steps. Is price always important? Frequently consumers will choose someone based on their reviews (either online or offline) – do everything you can to encourage your happy customers to share their experience.
Image credit: Modern Comment