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Consumer Decision-Making Process

Let’s get started and show you why understanding the consumer behaviour decision-making process will make it easier for you to make more of an impact within your business by putting yourself in your customer’s shoes.

There are 7 steps of the consumer decision making process. Some of them are easy and seem straight forward, while others can be confusing and require a multi-step approach to making the decisions. 

  1. Need recognition 
  2. Search for Information 
  3. Pre-purchase evaluation of alternatives 
  4. Purchase  
  5. Consumption 
  6. Post-purchase evaluation
  7. Divestment 
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Also, there are thought to be five main decision-making roles (in business-to-consumer marketing):

  • Initiator – rouses interest
  • Influencer – provides reasons
  • Decider – stimulates intention 
  • Purchaser – actually buys
  • User – consumes
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Throughout this blog, you will learn the importance of why understanding the consumer decision-making process is key to any business.

Step 1 – Need recognition (Initiator)

This stage can also be known as the awareness step. This stage occurs because the consumer is dissatisfied with something in their life and results in them recognising ‘a want’. The consumer’s role at the start of the process is the initiator, their interest is felt internally. 

A business needs to understand and implement how it can influence this stage. Even though the consumers need is recognised and felt internally, this should highlight that within your business you need to focus on your sales and marketing efforts you externally put out to the public. For example, a good way to do this is by developing a thorough brand campaign to build brand awareness and recognition. This will result in consumers knowing that they can trust your business and know that you have the solution that can solve their problem. 

Step 2 – Search for information (Influencer)

The next step will be whenever the consumer is searching for information and their main role in this stage is the ‘influencer’ as the consumer wants to find a solution to their problem. Consumers usually internally search whenever a product is a low involvement, this involves them identifying from their memory. Whereas for high involvement products consumers are more likely to externally search such as through word of mouth, visiting websites, visiting stores and reading etc. 

In this stage, you need to make sure your business is there to help to give consumers the answers they want with the hopes that they will purchase your product or service. Therefore, you must have strategies in place to optimise during the search stage that can contribute to giving your consumer satisfaction. You should be creating a successful sales funnel and planning out a variety of content that people will need. For instances, optimise your e-commerce by strategizing your SEO. User-generated reviews are one of the most effective ways to build brand awareness during the research stage. Reviews boost SEO as they give your online business a steady source of keyword-relevant content. 

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Step 3 – Pre-purchase evaluation of alternatives (Decider)

Within this stage, the consumer works off two different selection processes, one of which is, ‘a list of brands from which they plan to make their selection’ and two is, ‘the criteria they will use to evaluate each brand’. They become the ‘decider’ as they delve deeper into their criteria.

Different alternatives consumers may present to themselves during this stage are lower prices, additional product benefits, product availability etc. They will also gather facts including feedback from previous customers. Your strategies for optimizing this consideration stage should involve your marketing material being targeting toward convincing consumers that your product or service is superior to your competitors. For example, a good way to do this is through questions and answers features on your website. This is an influential type of user-generated content that can help answer any questions that the consumer may have without any reason to buy from you. 

Step 4 – Purchase (Purchaser)

This is whenever your marketing funnels have helped you convert sales. The consumer becomes the ‘purchaser’ as they are ready and know where and what they want to buy. 

Make sure throughout this stage the purchasing experience is enjoyable and easy – as sometimes this stage can make the consumer feel stressed and if this is not done correctly you could lose them. You need to keep this stage memorable for the consumer in order to affect their mood positively whilst purchasing. For example, a way of reassuring your customer is to not distract them with anything else from your website by making sure there is not any clickable content. 

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Step 5 – Consumption (User)

Obviously, in this stage, it is whenever the consumer consumes the product and is the ‘user’ of it. Once the product is consumed the feedback for the product arises. 

Your business has no control over this stage therefore it is important that all of the work that was put in through the previous stages ensures that your customer has a positive experience that generates word of mouth marketing surrounding how good your product or service is.

Step 6 – Post-purchase evaluation

Here the consumer reflects on their recent purchase and, reviews their decision and if there are any consequences. It involves the consumer thinking about how they feel by analysing if their purchase was a good investment.

In this stage, to increase the chances of the customer engaging with your brand again, you have to put in place a post-purchase strategy. For example, ideas that your business could implement to entice the customer to make another purchase are follow-up emails, loyalty programmes and newsletters. They are perfect opportunities to encourage customer loyalty and ensure they will return to you for future purchases. 

Step 7 – Divestment

If you are selling services, this doesn’t apply as much however it is worth ensuring your brand comes across as sustainable in every possible way. 

Divestment can also be known as the ‘disposal’ stage. This stage has become very important as ecology and recycling now play a huge part in our society as many consumers these days are “conscious consumers”. 

To ensure your business is following this stage make sure you know of the three main ways to dispose of a product, which are: throwing it away, recycling or remarketing it. A reason a consumer may carry out this step is that in many cases we acquire a new product even though the old one still functions as the consumer may desire a new feature, there could be a change in the individual’s environment or a change in the person’s role or self-image. Which then brings us right back round to need recognition. 

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We hope by now this blog has improved your knowledge on understanding how you can steer customers towards your product more easily by understating their journey from start to finish. Knowing the right strategies to put in place at each stage can help you see an increase in sales and customer loyalty, if done correctly.

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For more information on how we can help set up any of the programmes discussed above, please get in touch for a free consultation below.

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