Decision Making Process
The decision making process of this model is concerned with how consumers make decisions. The process consists of three states: need recognition, repurchases search and evaluation of alternatives.
1. Need recognition
The recognition occurs when a customer is faced with a ‘problem’. There are two different need recognition styles:
An actual state, when the consumer perceives a problem either because he is out of stock of a product (daily necessities) or because a product has failed or not performed satisfactorily. A desired state, when the desire for something triggers a latent need and an aspiration to acquire the product. Self expressive or image products like personal accessories, clothing, high end cell phones and other such gadget trigger the desired state of need recognition.
Not all problems are clearly defined or even understood in the consumers mind. Marketers must take considerable efforts in educating the consumer. When Nike first introduced their range of fitness shoes, they had to exhort potential customers to adopt a lifestyle that focused on staying fit and healthy. For years, nike communication educated the customers about the dangers of obesity and a sedentary lifestyle. Once the fitness culture had gained ground, market grew rapidly. But these initial market development efforts took time.
The marketing tasks related to the need recognition stage vary from market development and customer education to providing stimuli to trigger the need. Advertising, product displays, product design, packaging, store locations and attractive store windows all marketers controlled sources of stimuli that trigger a need recognition in the consumer.
2. Repurchase search
The repurchase search begins when the consumer perceives a need that might be satisfied by the purchase and consumption of a product. When the consumer has some experience with the product, he searches his memory (psychological field of the diagram), before seeking any external sources of information. On the other hand, if he has no past experience with the product, he has to engage in extensive external search for information. Past experience is considered as an internal source of information; the greater the past experience is considered as an internal source of information; the greater the post experience with the product, the less is the external search. Most decisions are combinations of internal and external search. High involvement decisions will involve a combination arch due to high perceived risks. In low involvement decisions consumers may rely much more on the internal sources of information.
Shopping around is an important way of collecting external information. According to several studies the amount of the time spent on shopping depends on the customer knowledge and the more importance of the product purchase. The less the knowledge and the more important the product purchase, the more time will be invested in shopping. Several consumer studies also reveal major differences between genders in their attitudes towards shopping. Most men do not like to shop; whereas for women shopping is a relaxing, enjoyable leisure time activity. There are differences even in the way men and women shop and collect information.
The internet has had a great impact on repurchase search for information. Web sites provide a wealth of easily accessible information about brands, product categories; some sites even assist you with evaluation and decision making criteria.
The duration of repurchase search is dependent primarily on he perceived risk, differences between brands and the consumers past experience with the product category. There are also certain other factors which increase the time and effort spent on searching. Consider the factors below:
(i) Frequent changes in product styling
(ii) Frequent price changes
(iii) Long interval between purchases
(iv) Major technological changes
(v) Purchase a gift
(vi) Product is self expressive, image product
(vii) Major sources of conflicting information
(viii) Family members disagree on the evaluation of alternatives
(ix) Unsatisfactory past experience
Sources of information for repurchase search are internal and external. Internal sources are, as we have seen earlier, stored information in the psychological field. External sources of information can be personal or impersonal. Personal sources would include friends, colleagues, neighbors, relatives, co-workers, dealers and company sales people.
3. Evaluation of alternatives
When evaluating alternatives, consumers also help customers in their two types of information:
(i) Potential list of brands being considered
(ii) The criteria to be used for evaluation
The Evoked Set or Consideration Set consists of those brands that the customer now considers for further evaluation. Consumer’s narrow down to a list of brands to be considered from a larger list of brands that they are aware brands they consider inferior or about which they may have heard a negative report about.
There could which they may have a negative report about.
There could be other brands that consumer may be neutral or indifferent towards, simply because he has not enough information about these brands to form an image. Such brands also do not make it to the consideration set.
Marketing tasks at this stage are about helping customers make the evaluation by communicating the prodcut attributes in terms of benefits and by clearly and credibly stating their brand’s point of differentiation. This helps not only customers make a choice, but even acts as reassurance to the customer.
At times customers find it difficult to take a decision on evaluation criteria and what they really want from their products. This is fairly common with technology products, as consumers may not understand the benefits that result from the technology. This can be a daunting task for the consumer, and very often consumers develop a techno phobia. Apple computers demystified computers with simple, straight forward marketing communications, when they first launched the Macintosh. The language is the advertising copy was not computer speak, but the kind of language that consumers would use.