Elements of Consumer Decision-Making Process
Consumers have to choose between various products and services. How they end up making these decisions, is of importance not only to the consumers themselves but also to marketers and policy makers. Various elements influence this decision-making process. Such elements dictate the choices made by consumers (Foxall, 2005).
To understand these elements, one needs to consider a consumer’s decision-making process. The knowledge of this process is also important to marketers. Ordinarily, this process can be broken down into five steps. The first of these steps is to need recognition. This is where a consumer realizes his/her need for a particular product. This need can be triggered through strategic marketing. The next step involves a consumer’s search for information.
This search can be external or internal. After the information search, the next step is to evaluate the available alternatives. At this point, the consumer is most likely to choose the brand he/she trusts. The next step from this point is the decision to make a purchase. This refers to the actual decision made after all the above considerations. Finally, after buying the consumer engages in post-purchase behavior. This is a reflection as to whether the product was either satisfying or dissatisfying.
This decision-making process is not necessarily voluntary. Several elements affect this decision-making process. These elements can simply be classified into three categories, namely; personal, psychological, and social elements.
Consumer behavior is heavily dependent on a consumer’s traits. These qualities are unique to an individual consumer. They include factors like a person’s age, sex, race, among others. How a consumer arrives at a certain decision is dependent on a combination of these factors. For example, the way young consumers make decisions is different from the way old consumers do it. Young consumers are most likely to engage in haphazard buying.
On the other hand, older consumers require more convincing for them to buy a certain product. For this reason, marketers need to understand their targets’ demographics. Then, they need to mount marketing campaigns in line with the personal traits of their targets.
The other element influencing consumer behavior is psychological traits. This is a very broad element, and it encompasses several factors. These include factors like attitudes, personality, motives, among others. Motive refers to a consumer’s source of inspiration or drives towards choosing a certain product. These motives include esteem, self-actualization, safety, love, and a sense of belonging. A marketer needs to understand the level of motivation for his/her target consumers.
This way, he/she knows which marketing approach to use. Perception is also another factor in psychology. It refers to a consumer’s means of processing, selecting, interpreting, and organizing information. This factor is important to marketers because brands are built on perception. For example, it is a common perception that German cars are of superior quality. Consumers’ attitudes are also part of this psychology element.
Attitudes are those positive or negative feelings harbored by consumers about certain products. Marketers need to understand all attitudes that are associated with their products as well as those of their competitors. Personality refers to a person’s inherited traits and perceptions. They include things like aggressiveness and ambitiousness. Marketing campaigns should be modeled according to the personalities of their intended targets.
Social factors also influence consumers behavior. One social aspect is the use of opinion leaders. Society has those people whose opinion is highly regarded. An example of this is the various celebrity spokespeople who are employed to endorse products. Social class is yet another social factor affecting consumer behavior.
Social class refers to a group of people who share a social rank. Marketers need to be aware of which social class a specific product is intended. This is because different social classes have different purchasing and shopping habits. Another factor that is important to marketing is culture and subculture. This factor is necessary, especially when it comes to advertising. For instance, cultural values like good health, education, and freedom should be considered when coming up with marketing strategies.
The Impact of Consumer Satisfaction on Marketing
Customer satisfaction is usually an indicator of effective marketing. This is because customer satisfaction leads to customer retention. Once a customer is successfully retained, a marketer’s workload is considerably reduced. This is because a satisfied customer acts as a marketing tool. That customer is likely to keep marketing the product through word of mouth.
On the other hand, an unsatisfied customer puts a negative spin on marketing (Gotlieb, Grewal & Brown, 1994). This is because this customer will act as an agent of negative advertising. Customer satisfaction has been hailed as the most effective form of marketing.
However, too much focus on marketing while ignoring customer satisfaction can produce undesirable results. Therefore, it is important to focus one’s efforts in seeking customer satisfaction. Once this goal is achieved, a marketer can then start employing other types of innovative marketing.
Foxall, G. (2005). Understanding Consumer Choice. Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillian.
Gotlieb, J. B., Grewal, D., & Brown, S. W. (1994). Consumer satisfaction and perceived quality: Complementary or divergent constructs. Journal of Applied Psychology, 79(6), 875–885.