HOW TO ALIGN SALES STRATEGIES ACCORDINGLY BY UNDERSTANDING THE CONSUMER’S PROCESS OF DECISION MAKING
As a marketing agency we are constantly trying to meet consumer’s needs. But to do so, it is important to understand how the decision process of consumers works.
Although the CUSTOMER BUYING PROCESS has been interpreted by many scholars over the years, the main framework of five stages, which John Dewey developed already in the 1920’s, remain:
- Need RecognitionA purchase cannot take place without the recognition of the need. The need either has been triggered by internal attractions, such as hunger or thirst, or external, such as advertising or word of mouth.
- Information SearchOnce a consumer has decided to satisfy the need, the next step a customer most likely will take is the Information Search stage, in order to find out what they feel is the best solution.
- Seeking of AlternativesConsumers will evaluate different products or brands at this stage. A factor that heavily influences this stage is the customer’s attitude. Involvement is another factor that influences the evaluation process, which means that if the customer’s attitude is positive and involvement is high, then they will evaluate a number of companies or brands; but on the other hand if it is low, only one company or brand will be evaluated.
- Purchase Decision Here is where the actual purchase takes place. Nevertheless there are two factors that may hinder: negative feedback from other customers and the level of motivation to accept the feedback.
- Purchase RatingAfter comparing the products with previous expectations the consumer will be either satisfied or dissatisfied. Satisfaction often will results in brand loyalty and the Information Search and Evaluation of Alternative stages will often be fast-tracked or skipped altogether.
No one of us is aware of processing those steps but you will recognize them the next time you are about to buy a new TV. Yet, there are certain influences such as cultural, social and personal factors that distinguish why a British person would never buy sunscreen or someone from Kenia an umbrella.
First, there are cultural factors that have a huge impact on consumers’ behavior. Not just that every society is deeply influenced by cultural factors, but also that among every culture subcultures exist: religions, nationalities, geographic regions, racial groups to name some of them. Every society also possesses some form of social class which is important to the marketers because the buying behavior of people in a given social class is similar. A social class is not only determined by income but also by wealth, education and occupation.
Social factors as second determiners, reference groups, family, role and status. Reference groups have potential in forming a person attitude or behavior. Here is very often an opinion leader included influences others because of his special skill, knowledge or other characteristics. Each person possesses different roles and status in the society depending upon the groups, clubs, family, organization etc. to which he belongs. For example a woman is working in an organization as finance manager. Now she is playing two roles, one of finance manager and other of mother. Therefore her buying decisions will be influenced by her role and status.
Yes, we all are pushed into roles and we depend on our reference groups but we are still individuals. It is our decision to make which lifestyle to choose or how to create our self-concept. Our economic situation, occupation, age, personality also play along.
So far so good. But what to do with that knowledge? Marketers use it to of course identify their target group. For example if you are trying to promote laundry detergent you will most likely address women in your advertisement. If you try to sell dolls, you will probably produce very colorful commercials and place them on the Nickelodeon TV channel.
Marketing certainly grew bigger and more influential over the past 10 years, but it is still interesting to see, that, according to a survey from 2014, recommendations from family and friends are still the most influential factor on a consumer’s decision. Television ads only follow on third place:
Here are some other key findings
- When it comes to purchasing basic everyday goods such as groceries and pet food, US consumers do not care much for either online and offline word of mouth, but look for brands that deliver value in terms of savings. 48% say that coupons influence them and 44% say that loyalty card discounts influence them when making brand decisions.
- Digital technology influences 36% of in-store sales on average. Electronics and alliances is the most influenced category where digital impacts 58% of all final purchases.
- 50% of mobile shoppers said search results via smartphone influenced their purchases, followed by 42% who said they were influenced by ratings and reviews.