Consumer decision-making process depends on the amount of effort that goes into the decision every time a purchase has to occur. Some researchers view it as a continuum, which depends on one end by habitual decision-making and the other end by extended problem-solving. Most purchase decisions fall somewhere in the middle and involve limited decision-making process. We shall look at the five stage model of the purchase decision process (PDP) involving high involvement purchase (computer software) and low involvement purchase (food).
There is always a need or desire a consumer wants to satisfy. The consumer has recognized his condition and is not satisfied and wants to improve his perceived desires. The consumer has the need to purchase food due to internal triggers of hunger and thirst. He also recognizes the need to have a computer software application. The decision-making process begins because of the motivational factors from both internal and external triggers (Freeman, 2008).
Motivations to satisfy the needs lead the consumer to search for information regarding his purchases. Information can come from past experiences or memory, particularly in the purchase of food. Conversely, in the purchase of computer software application, the consumer will spend considerable time to get information from external sources such internet searches, confer with friends, retailers among others. Search for information depends on satisfying the need, available alternatives, and time available.
The search for information may yield several alternatives. Therefore, the consumer can make a choice among the alternatives. Consumer may generate several solutions to satisfy hunger and thirst e.g. different dishes and drinks. He may also evaluate specific products to provide a solution to satisfy his need. In this case, he is evaluating the products and brands. Computer software applications are many, and there are several restaurants from which to choose from during a decision-making process.
Once the customer has settled on the best solution i.e. food and drinks from Denny’s restaurant, and a computer application from World of Warcraft, he is ready to make the purchase. Occasionally, the purchase decision may change due to prevailing circumstances e.g. insufficient funds, product out-of-stock, competitor gives discounts, or a friend may influence the consumer decisions about the intended purchases. Otherwise, the consumer will proceed and make his purchases of food and drinks, and computer software application from his chosen restaurant and vendor respectively.
The last stage in the PDP is the after-purchase evaluation. After the purchase, the buyer evaluates his decision to buy food and drinks, and computer software application. The consumer expects food and drinks, and computer software application to perform to his expectations. However, if the food and drinks do not fit his expected taste, the consumer might return them or retain them but with a negative view of Denny’s restaurant and the food and drinks. Likewise, computer software application must satisfy the consumer’s expectations. In this case, the evaluation is highly involving because the necessity and importance of the purchase. The consumer will only be pleased if he derives value from his purchases.
We must first acknowledge that the consumers’ purchase process is a complex affair. The PDP of buying the two products varies completely from each other. This is because the decision to buy a computer software application is high involvement process. On the other hand, purchasing food and drinks from Denny’s restaurant is low involvement process.
Purchasing food and drinks bear characteristics of low costs, frequent purchases, and the consumer is familiar with products and brands. Food and drinks are primary, basic needs, but their purchases involve low risks and involvements. Likewise, there is a little search for information. The consumer is likely to process the information passively and in-restaurants decisions are likely to occur. The alternative evaluation revolves around weakly held belief and consumer use only most prominent criteria. In most cases, the consumer perceives alternatives as similar, and there is no compensatory strategy he uses to weigh alternatives. The need to satisfy hunger and thirst is almost immediate, and there is limited shopping time, and at times consumer may prefer self service. Occasionally, restaurants displays may also influence consumer’s choices and purchase decisions.
Buying food and drinks is usually straightforward and simple i.e. it is limited problem-solving. Therefore, the consumer has no desire to search for information or evaluate each alternative rigorously. In this case, the consumer uses simple decision rules to choose among the available alternatives and make a purchase. The available information consumer possesses enable him to make the decision almost instantly (KnowThis, 1998).
According Michael Solomon, consumer decision-making involves some degree of information search and deliberation. What happens in the PDP of purchasing food and drinks is habitual decision-making i.e. the consumer makes the decisions with little or no conscious effort. Most purchase decisions are routine that consumers may not even realize that they have made such purchases. This is to say that buying food and drinks is almost automatic when there is a need to satisfy. Consumers who develop habitual, repetitive behavior minimize time and energy they spend on making purchase decisions. Conversely, habitual and repetitive processes impede marketers from introducing new services and products. Marketers must convince consumers to drop old habits and replace them with new products and services (Solomon, 2006).
The consumer decision to purchase computer software application is a high involvement process. The product has characteristics of being expensive and infrequent purchasing. At the same time, consumer is probably not familiar with products and brands. Therefore, there is a higher risk and involvement. The purchase involves extensive search for information with consultation of several sources before visiting the store. Alternative evaluation revolves around consumer’s strongly held beliefs. The consumer may also use several criteria to choose among alternatives because there are significant differences perceived among alternative solutions. In the process, there are also compensatory strategies available and the consumer may visit several vendors and consult with different store personnel before making the purchase.
The consumer decision to purchase a computer software application involves extended problem-solving. The PDP involving extended problem-solving usually results from motives central to consumer’s self-concept and the final decision carry a varying degree of risk. Therefore, consumer must strive to collect as much information as possible, both from an internal source i.e. memory and external sources. The available pieces of information influence the consumer’s decision and evaluate each alternative carefully before settling on the best. Evaluation involves comparing and contrasting different features of various brands and seeing how each feature will satisfy consumer’s desire.
Marketers are relentless in search of strategies that grab and enhance consumers’ involvement with their messages, products and services. The use of PDP also provides such opportunities for marketers to appeal to their target consumers through different strategies.
Marketers use advertisements to motivate and influence purchase decision-making process of consumers. For instance, the displays of food and drinks and sweet aroma at Denny’s restaurant trigger, influence and motivate the consumer to buy food and drinks. Therefore, marketers have found ways to motivate consumers to purchase their products and services.
During the information search in the PDP, marketers must make sure that consumers can easily access information related to products and services consumers are seeking. For instance, marketers should provide information concerning computer software application over various channels e.g. in the internet where consumers can easily access them.
The evaluation process of products is critical for marketers. It is vital for marketers to understand how consumers evaluate various alternatives. Above all, marketers must understand how consumers apply evaluation criteria during a selection process. For instance, marketing strategies should focus on providing products’ features and benefits of a computer software application. The strategy should appeal to consumers whereby benefits follow the order of importance.
Marketing strategies should also enhance purchase process. This is why some retailers may offer incentives, and provide seamless purchase processes including free deliveries. This may make the consumers change their decision at the last minute, and take the products either from a favorite store or from unlikely retailer.
Consumers usually have concerns regarding their purchases. These concerns may be those of satisfaction or dissatisfaction with products. At times, consumer may decide to return the product or retain it but with negative perceptions. External influences such as friends and families may make the situation better or worse regarding the purchase. It is fundamental that markets help ease consumers’ concerns over their high value and risky purchases. Marketers must be receptive and create contact with the consumer in order to get feedback on product performance. This is also useful in conducting surveys (Arens, 1999).
Arens, W. (1999). Contemporary Advertising, 7th Edition. New York: McGraw- Hill/Irwin.
Freeman, J. (2008). Introduction Consumer Behavior. California: Trident University International.
KnowThis. (1998). Consumer Buying Behavior. Web.
Solomon, M. (2006). Consumer Behavior. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Europe.