Why do consumers choose a product over another, such a mark, such store? How does he make his choice? What factors influence? The decision is a complex psychological process.
Understanding the process of decision and purchase (consumer behaviour) is key in your relation with your customers. First, it leads to understand the adequacy between the perceived value (what he thinks to have) and the use value (what he gets), allowing you to create the right added value (Added value = perceived value - use value), second the road taken by the customer allows you to establish a base for relationship.
Is there a need? The perception of needs.
Why consumers make the purchases that they make? Actually, this is the difference between the desired state and the actual condition. Example: "I am hungry but I had no food to eat."
This need can be stimulated by marketing actions like product information. You can speak to consumers: “Did you know you were deficient?” Example: if you see a commercial for a new car, it will stimulate your recognition that you need to change your car.
Looking for information. The expected value.
At this stage, the consumer wonders: “ Is there a product in the market that will fit my need?”. The consumer is now likely to look for information. He will search in different ways.
- Internal search: this the memory and the experience
- External search: if you need more information you will ask your friends and relatives to help you (this is the word of mouth). You will also look for information through advertisements, articles, white papers, blogs, websites… This is where marketing content plays a very important role.
- A successful information search leaves a buyer with possible alternatives: buy a new car, buy a second-hand car, lease a car, choose a brand, choose a family car, SUV,… At this stage, as a business owner or marketing manager, your objective will be to produce as much interesting content as you can on your products and promote them in the different channels.
Evaluation of alternatives. The received value.
The potential customer needs to establish criteria for evaluation. These are the features the buyer wants or does not want.
The SUV may rank A for aesthetic, C for fuel consumption and B for the price, and the family car B, A, B.
Purchase decision. Creation of preferences and choice.
The customer makes a choice regarding all the different alternatives, including the product, the payment terms, the warranty, relations with the supplier, the package, the method of purchase, etc.
Purchase. The purchase value.
This is a crucial part when you sell. You want to "close the deal" with your customers. But the purchase may differ from the decision. It is related to the time lapse between step 4 & step 5, product availability, competition sales actions...
Consumption and assessment after purchase. The use value.
The outcome is "Satisfaction or Dissatisfaction". Scientists talk about cognitive dissonance, have you made the right decision.
You can reduce this dissonance with warranties, after sales communication, customer satisfaction surveys etc.
More about consumer behaviour?
Wikipedia: Consumer behaviour
More about marketing values?