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Consumer Decision Making Process

Introduction

Consumers ideally go through distinct stages in order to buy a product. During these processes, numerous factors influence the outcome of their decisions. Notably, consumers can abandon the purchasing idea at any stage hence ending up not purchasing the product. The first stage of the consumer decision-making process is recognition of a need. In this stage, a consumer becomes aware of the absence of a product hence the need to acquire it, for example, the need for a car (Stages in Consumer Decision Making Process 2011). Markedly, there are internal and external factors that stimulate the urge to possess the car.

The second stage is the information search phase. Here, a consumer can decide to acquire more information on the car from opinion leaders. The consumer evaluates the available options on whether to purchase the car or not after acquiring adequate information. Then, the purchase of the car occurs, followed by an evaluation of the process of decision-making. Marketers should be concerned with the customer at all stages mentioned herein.

There are factors that affect the final decision-making process of consumers when they engage in the purchase of all products. These factors can be either internal or external in nature. This report analyzes the numerous internal and external factors that affect the consumer decision-making process of purchasing a car. Some of the internal factors that affect the consumer decision-making process include perceptions, motivation and values, attitudes, learning, and memory, among others. These internal factors are variables within the control of a consumer as they originate from within human beings.

Description, Analysis, and Demonstration of Internal Factors

Perception

In marketing, perception involves obtaining meanings of pieces of information using senses. For purchase purposes, one has to be exposed to the product either randomly or deliberately. Upon exposure, a consumer pays attention to the product and interprets it in order to keep the meaning in the memory. The consumer decides to purchase the product based on the involvement levels and memory storage (Perception n.d.). My friend Sam decided to purchase a blue car towards the end of last year. He had been staying close to neighbors who had different models of cars. Sam had frequently been interacting with these neighbors. After being exposed to cars for a long period, Sam got ample time to study the features of cars; hence, he became interested in owning his own car. During this time, he developed positive attitudes toward the need to own a car.

This ordeal made Sam understand the key components and features of a car. Since Sam was highly motivated to understand the operations of a car, he actively engaged himself in the learning process. The high-level involvement changed the psychological variable that Sam held towards cars. Initially, Sam had a negative perception towards cars since he believed that cars were too small, therefore, could accommodate a few numbers of people. The perceptual defense that Sam had been holding changed due to the constant interactions with the neighbors who had cars. Notably, the close relations with the neighbors changed the way Sam had perceived cars.

Moreover, the information had to stick for a long time since he had undergone product repositioning and was only waiting to test the benefits of the car. In addition, the social situation, experience, and background influenced Sam to purchase the car. In general, my friend’s deliberate exposure made him get highly involved in studying and understanding the concept of cars hence repositioning his earlier perception.

The manner in which Sam bought the car attests to the content of the adaptation level theory. The theory posits that an individual’s judgments and evaluations of outcomes are pegged on the individual’s previous encounters and recollections of a past judgment of a given stimulus. When Sam saw the new car model, he considered it to be big hence satisfying his needs. Therefore, marketers must consider all views and sides of a situation before launching a product in the market. This scenario will enable them to encompass all the consumers’ levels of perception when modifying the product, thereby influencing them towards purchasing the product.

Learning

Learning is another internal factor that significantly affects consumer behavior when purchasing different products. Learning transpires due to information processing that can cause alteration to the memory. Feelings and emotions are the key determinants of a successful learning process instead of gathering information. Effective learning occurs when the stimuli alter the initial memory of a person (Kirmani & Wright 2000).

Marketers have to ensure that they alter the memory of the consumers on the products that they intend to sell to consumers. Since learning is a process, it is under the influence of external and internal stimuli; therefore, marketers must co-ordinate these stimuli to fit in the memory of consumers. Sam who had been longing to purchase a vehicle was highly motivated to learn the features and operations of a car when he came across the neighbours. Sam’s high involvement pushed him to purchase the car. During interaction with the neighbours, he managed to drive their cars. Moreover, the actual action of driving these cars made Sam learn more information on the operation and maintenance of cars.

The learning style that Sam went through is the operant conditioning since his actual encounter with cars made him purchase his own car. Sam received positive reinforcement on the operations and nature of cars throughout his involvement with cars. The result of Sam’s interaction with cars after consecutive occasions was consistent in modifying his response of purchasing his car. Notably, Sam had to relocate to another town away from his neighbours before interacting fully with the cars. This move deprived him the full ‘appetite’ of satisfaction from the stimuli. The situation acted as a primary reinforcement for Sam to own a car.

Clearly, factors like contingency and satiation pushed Sam towards acquiring the car. The learning process that Sam went through when he was residing close to the neighbours who owned cars influenced his decision to purchase the car. Consumers’ behaviours are under great influence from learning experiences that they acquire on various products. On the other aspect, the trial process that Sam went through with the neighbours’ cars made him admire owning a car of the same nature. In Sam’s scenario, his capability to drive the neighbours’ cars made him purchase his own car. He imagined how it would be like owning his car. For that matter, the formation of mental images of owning his car and the positive reinforcements influenced his decision to purchase the car (Bhagchand 2009). Notably, Sam did not take long to purchase the car. This reveals the influence that learning as an internal factor had caused in him.

Motivation and Personality

Motivation is an inner urge that directs behaviour towards satisfying needs. This aspect plays a significant role in influencing consumers’ decision-making processes. When Sam got involved in the imagination process of owning a car, he felt that it would be comfortable and convenient to have one. Markedly, the comfort acted as an inner drive to acquire a personal car. A study on Sam’s life revealed that he wanted to own a car in order to feel prestigious. In that situation, he had all the physiological needs, the safety and security needs and the social needs (Sokolowski 2011).

Therefore, the ego needs had to act as a source of drive in order to be met since Sam had satisfied the basic needs that were below ego needs in the Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. On the other aspect, after interacting with the neighbours who owned cars, Sam wanted to achieve a sense of meaning by adapting to the environment of cars. He also viewed cars as a means of satisfying emotional states hence obtaining personal means and achieving a state of independency (Sokolowski 2011). At the time Sam was to purchase the car, he had also planned to start a shop. The car and shop were all attractive assets as they had various benefits in long-term perspectives. At this point, Sam was under an approach-approach motivational conflict of whether to start a business or purchase a car.

A shop can make profit that Sam can use to reinvest in other adventures while the car can assist him to move from one point to another with ease. All these alternatives were attractive since they had positive consequences. The outcomes of owning the two assets are in conflict. After a deep thought, he decided to go for the car over starting a business. The car was a sign of competency and high status in comparison to owning a shop. The outcomes induce needs recognition thus making consumers move from actual state to a state that they desire. Marketers have to understand their consumers in order to offer them goods and services that meet their needs.

Further, personality is another internal factor that influences consumers’ behaviours. Personality covers a person’s responses and behaviours to the occurrences in the environment. Personal traits tend to influence the brand that someone selects. Under personality dimension, there are few introverts and extroverts, but several people at the centre of the dimension (Thomas 2013). Sam is a sophisticated and attractive friend; therefore, he decided to go for the car brand that signalled upper class and fascination. Clearly, personality affects customers’ decision-making processes, as they tend to purchase brands that represent their personal traits or characters.

Additionally, nature of emotions affects the opinions of individuals when conducting purchases. These are strong feelings that arise due to physiological changes and influence behaviours. Some products are meant to reduce negative emotions; for example, television sets and cartoon programmes. Activities like adventure travels and charity programmes tend to arouse emotions and can reduce boredom. When Sam opted for the car, he felt that it would be a source of emotion arousal as opposed to owning a shop. He will be able to adventure into new locations using the car. In situations of low emotional levels, Sam could move to other locations that he felt could mitigate negative emotions and arouse positive emotions.

Attitude

Attitude is another essential internal factor that affects consumer decisions. Attitude is the beliefs, feelings, and behavioural intentions that a person holds towards a given product or event. It is a learnt inclination that enables one to respond to the activities in the environment. Therefore, a consumer can either have a negative or positive perception towards a given product or action (Thomas 2013). The nature of attitude and thought affects the final orientation that a consumer will have on the stimuli. On Sam’s case, his consistent interaction with the neighbours who had different models of cars changed his attitude on cars. He was able to distinguish between different models of cars that he presumed as good and bad. Factually, consumers do make decisions whether to purchase a product or not depending on the feelings and beliefs that they command towards the product.

Description, Analysis and Demonstration of External Factors

Group Influence

Apart from the above internal factors, there are also external factors that heavily affect the decision-making process of consumers when purchasing different products. Some of the external factors include group influence and culture. Group influence is more predominant with a small group than a large one since the latter experiences less degree of contact than the former. Moreover, aspirational reference group exerts great influence on members on the choice of products to purchase since it commands positive attraction to the members (Batra & Kazmi 2009).

In terms of membership conformity, a member will purchase products that most group members own in order to feel the presence and relevance among the colleagues. In addition, it seems to be a norm in a group for all members to own a product. Therefore, members will strive to behave in a similar way irrespective of their positions in the society. In reference to Sam’s case, he lived among people who owned cars; as a result, they could visit museums, national parks, game reserves, and entertainment venues. In the group, the members went through University education and had lucrative jobs.

As a result, the group was the reference assemblage that Sam desired to engage, at all time. To be precious, the group had seven members. Five members owned luxurious and executive cars, and they mostly discussed how to be self-dependent by creating jobs to the needy population. The group was inspiring to Sam as it was unique in desiring to make all the members own their products. These pieces of information influenced Sam’s opinion and behaviour to acquire his personal car. Sam used the group’s norms and values to alter his earlier values, perceptions, and attitudes on owning a car.

Further, the physical existence and relevance of cars in the group acted as a strong factor in influencing the product. Since Sam initially had low confidence on purchasing a car, the strong commitment with the group highly influenced his final decision to own one. From the group influence perspective, marketers should strategise to inculcate the distinct reference groups when advertising their products. Some people purchase products because it is a norm in the reference group; they may desire to receive appreciation or circumvent punishment. Therefore, marketers have to design their advertisements to include such individuals who buy products to feel a sense of belonging to a group (Lantos 2010). The five members acted as opinion leaders in the group since they could communicate freely to other members on the various features and maintenance services of different car models. Undoubtedly, Sam came to learn about cars and increase in product purchase involvement from the group.

Social Class and culture

Social class and culture are external factors that also influence consumer decision-making process on product purchase. For instance, a social group always have a consistent degree of status in some sectors like education levels, occupation, ownership, and income levels (Schiffman & Kanuk 2004). Social classes use or consume different products at different frequencies. For example, middle class group in the society strives to acquire the status of the upper class. Sam, on his part, interacted with individuals who had University education and had lucrative jobs. From this aspect, Sam’s idea to purchase a car was a factor of the social class, which he found himself. Marketers should also design their products to target a given social class.

On the other hand, culture entails the complex acts and behaviours that humans acquire from the society. Societal values, composition, and language determine the behaviour that consumers have towards products in the market (Mooij 2004). In Sam’s society, it was a collective desire for everyone to own a car. In addition, the society valued performance, risk taking, active individuals, change, and immediate gratification. Sam had to work hard to achieve his status in the society and even had to keep on accepting new ideas. The societal perception of measuring success with what one has achieved in life also contributed to purchase of the car.

Conclusion

Consumer decision-making process on product purchase relies on numerous factors. Therefore, marketers ought to understand both the internal and external factors that influence consumers’ behaviours on purchasing products. Moreover, marketers can use marketing strategies that encompass these factors in order to realize high sales.

References

Batra, S. K & Kazmi, S. H 2009, Consumer Behaviour, Excel Books India, New Delhi.

Bhagchand, P 2009, Consumer Decision Making Process, Upload & Share PowerPoint presentations and documents, Web.

Kirmani, A & Wright, P 2000, Marketing Communications, Procedural Learning, and Consumer Decision Making [92-119], Marketing Science Institute, Web.

Lantos, G. P 2010, Consumer behavior in action: real-life applications for marketing managers, M.E Sharpe, Armonk, New York.

Mooij, M. K 2004, Consumer behavior and culture: consequences for global marketing and advertising, Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, Calif.

Perception n.d., Boundless, Web.

Schiffman, L. G & Kanuk, L. L 2004, Consumer behavior (8th ed.), Pearson Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, NJ.

Sokolowski, O 2011, Influences and Attitudes Within Consumer Behaviour Process, GRIN Verlag, Munich.

Stages in Consumer Decision Making Process 2011, Management Study Guide, Web.

Thomas, K 2013, Personality Traits as Chronic Motivations Get Around the Confabulator, Blog: TipTap Lab, Web.