Marketers Using Consumer Decision Making Process
Consumer decision-making process takes a number of steps, which include recognizing the need, searching for information, evaluating different alternatives, making the purchase and finally the post-purchase behavior. Recognizing the need is the first step and it is extremely crucial in making the final decision in purchasing. For instance, an individual seeing a commercial advertisement could elicit the need to acquire the item (Reynolds & Olson, 2001). The marketers use an advertisement to capture and trigger the need among consumers by pointing out the key features of the product.
The second step in the process is searching for information, and the marketers provide further information on price, quality and other attributes that will assist the consumer to make the final decision to purchase the item. There are two sources of information search available to consumers: internal and external. The internal source of information search involves recalling past experiences and other previous encounters that would assist in making the decision.
The external information search is critical when there is no prior experience that can be used to make a decision, and this is where the marketers come in with all the crucial information. This information could be found in the media or conveyed by the marketing personnel (Reynolds & Olson, 2001).
The third step is evaluating different alternatives available to the consumer that would suit individual preference and desires. This stage the consumer takes into account personal budget, taste, and functionality of the product while comparing with other available products. The marketers always emphasize the functionality and other key features of the product to demonstrate how it meets all the needs customers.
The product features play a crucial role in assisting the consumer to make the decision to purchase. If the product is a trusted brand in the market, the consumer would most likely go for it otherwise he would continue searching. If the consumer is satisfied, he will go to the fourth stage of making the actual purchase (Reynolds & Olson, 2001). At this stage, the consumer will choose the place to make the purchase or the location. Previous experience and other factors such as terms of sale will play a role in influencing the consumer. At this stage, the consumer will decide when he will buy the product, whether to buy it immediately or to postpone to a later date.
The marketers use a strategy of convincing the customers to buy the product immediately by offering a discount and no discount if the purchase is postponed to a later date. The post-purchase behavior is the final stage where the consumer evaluates the purchase to determine if he is satisfied or dissatisfied with the product. If the consumer is satisfied, then he would develop loyalty to the brand. Marketers assist the consumer with after-sale service with the aim of retaining customer and developing brand loyalty (Reynolds & Olson, 2001).
There are different types of reference groups that each one may belong to. Other than the primary groups, there are secondary groups, which are formed because of common interest and will influence both the behavior and attitude of the individual. An affiliation reference group is a secondary group which the individual seeks its membership. They are extremely influential because the individual will adopt the behavior of the group in order to be a member by affiliation.
Marketing uses images of affiliation membership to create the impression that using certain products will qualify one as a member of a group that most people aspire to join (Carmen, 2008). Affiliation reference group becomes a reliable source of information for individuals in the various stages of decision making. This is commonly known as an informational influence. Affiliation reference group also exerts normative influence on its members, where members are guided by the norms in the process of consuming the products so as to conform or avoid sanction (Carmen, 2008).
The associative reference group is where an individual assumes the appearance of a certain group by indulging in consumption habits that convey the group’s outlook. For instance, an individual may buy Chicago bulls attire and wear it in public because he is a fan and likes the team. The individual is only a fan of the Chicago bulls team and may not join the team officially, but the team will continue to influence the individual (Carmen, 2008).
Impact of Consumer Satisfaction on Marketing
Customer satisfaction is at the center of marketing because it leads to customer retention, which finally results in a sustainable competitive advantage for business in the market. Customers always have their own expectation, which is based on past experiences and other marketing activities such as sales promotion, advertising and other sources of information (Hancock, 2007).
The expectation of the customer has to be met in order to be satisfied; otherwise, they will tell others about their experiences. Customer satisfaction has become a point of competition on how various products are marketed. Customer satisfaction leads to loyalty and repeats the purchase of similar and other products from the same supplier.
Customer satisfaction is extremely valuable to marketing because a satisfied customer will refer to others and, therefore, acting as an agent of the marketers themselves (Gustafsson, Johnson, & Roos, 2005). It is also worth noting that customers are more likely to share their unpleasant experience about the product, as opposed to sharing favorable experience, and this could lead to negative publicity. Satisfied customers are less expensive to serve compared to a new customer and are even willing to pay higher prices. This explains why customer satisfaction is particularly pertinent to marketing.
Carmen, P. (2008). Considerations about group influences on consumer behavior.
Gustafsson, A., Johnson, M. D., & Roos, I. (2005). The effects of customer satisfaction, relationship commitment dimensions, and triggers on customer retention. American Marketing Association Journal of Marketing, 69, 210–218.
Hancock. R. (2007). Marketing: Customer satisfaction. Australian Anthill.
Reynolds, T. J., & Olson, J. C. (2001). Understanding consumer decision caking: The means-end approach to marketing and advertising strategy. New York, NY: Routledge.