What influences consumers to purchase products or services? The consumer buying process is a complex matter as many internal and external factors have an impact on the buying decisions of consumers.
Consumers do not spend much time thinking about the purchase of low value products which are bought on impulse. Manufacturers of such products will need to implement strategies that encourage consumers to buy on impulse from them instead of their competitors e.g. attractive packaging. When consumers purchase high value products or non impulse products, they often go through a set process. This process is discussed below.
On the next page there is a discussion of what influences consumer buying behaviour and the different types of buying behaviour.
The diagram below maps out the consumer purchase process from when the consumer recognises that they have a reason to make a purchase through to after the purchase
Problem Or Need Recognition
How do you decide which particular product or service to purchase? It could be that your Blu-Ray DVD player stops working and you now have to look for a new one; otherwise you will not be able to play your Blu-Ray films so you have a problem or a new need. This is the first step in the consumer buying process.
So we have a problem, our Blu-Ray player no longer works and we need to buy a new one. What is the solution? Go out and purchase a new one, but which brand? Shall we buy the same brand as the one that broke down? Or stay clear of that just in case the new player experiences the same problems as the old one? Consumer often go on an information search to help them choose their product. Sources of information include family, friends, retail staff and in this digital age the internet. The internet contains information about products (specifications), product reviews and online product forums. Information search may involve a visit to a retail store to view products that the consumer is interested in purchasing. In our example the consumer is on an information search to solve an immediate problem; they intend to make a purchase at the end of the process. Consumers also acquire and store information for future purchases. Firms will take such consumers into account when designing their marketing strategies, in the hope that when such a consumer is ready to buy they will use the "stored" information about their product into account and buy their products.
Evaluation of different purchase options
So what Blu-Ray DVD player do we purchase? Will it be a Sony, Toshiba or Samsung player? Consumers often create a point system in their minds where products are scored based on how many of their features appeal to them. So for one customer, brand may be more important then price and for another customer product appearance may be important. In the case of a DVD player consumers may be reviewing sound and picture quality. An evaluation system is particularly useful when there is a large number of options. Marketing strategies will try and influence this stage of the process by highlighting product features that they think will appeal to consumers. Appealing product features will be emphasised on product packaging, promotional materials and the manufacturer's websites.
After the evaluation process consumers will select the product they would like to purchase. Once product may be a clear winner or the consumer may have to re- prioritise their criteria to help them select a product. The job of the seller is to ensure that the purchase process is simple and effective. Even at this stage the purchaser could change their mind and select a competitor product or cancel the purchase altogether. A long queue, impolite sales staff or complicated sales process can all dissuade consumers from buying. Even if a consumer buys on this occasion a negative buying experience could stop them buying in the future. Therefore sellers need to make the buying process as simple and enjoyable as possible to safeguard this and future purchases.
Post Purchase Behaviour
Ever have doubts about the product after you purchased it? Research shows that this feeling is a common post purchase behaviour. Manufacturers of products clearly want purchasers to feel proud of their purchase, so that they will purchase from them again and recommend them to family and friends. It is therefore just as important for manufacturer's promotions to reassure purchasers, as it is for them to attract new customers. Promotions should make purchasers feel that they have bought their product from a strong and reputable organisation with "good" products.