Ultimate Guide to Consumer decision making process

As a marketer, the biggest challenge today in getting the mindshare of the customer. There is a overdose of campaigns through mix of different media starting from SMS, print, digital, TV, outdoor, radio .Each brand claims to be better than other & lot of their campaigns are  crafted  with subtle imagery thrown around them by best of minds. This brings us to the basic question, what are basic rules of consumer decision making process?

Consumer decision making process 

The Consumer decision making process is remarkably consistent and almost everyone goes through a five stage decision making process as shown in exhibit below

Consumer Decision Making Process

Gate 1.Awareness:-

Has your customer heard of you as a brand?

This covers the basic question. Has your customer heard of you as a brand?. If you are a brand who has been in business for years in B2C segment this may not be a challenging stage. But if you are a new brand, this stage presents a challenge to be present where the customer is. Research has shown that customers generally prefer to pick up products that they have heard of as it reduces risk in his mind. That does not mean lack of awareness means those products won’t be picked up. In case of B2B brand, brand may be many a times ingredient brand. There are many cases where brands have moved out of being an invisible brand & become brand case in point being Intel

Then there are commodity brands where brands do not have any role in consumer buying behaviour. These are low involvement products where customer does not feel like investing time to pick the product, he just picks up whatever is available at counter. An example of such case will be typical nails that are purchased. You just look at nails & pick it up & don’t think much about it

Gate 2.Familiarity:-

Does customer know what category your brand is in?

Once customer has seen the brand, he should know “what the brand can do “

This stage caters to category identification. There are many a case where brands are seen & customer still does not recollect them at the point of purchase. Many new brands make mistake of building awareness without aiding to familiarity thereby dropping off at this level in the decision making process.

Gate 3.Consideration:-

Does your brand meet customer needs?

This is a predominantly a rational process .The customer is now aware what your  brand is & now starts to evaluate whether it meets his needs rationally. If a customer looks to buy a television, he basically looks at all the brands that he is aware. Then picks some brands basis the attributes that he is looking at. He then checks with his friends, does internet searches, visit some shops to figure out some brands which fit in his basic criteria.

Gate 4.Brand Preference:-

Does your brand meet my needs better than others?

While previous stage was mostly a rational process,this is an emotional one. Basically all the brands that feature in the previous stage have all the features that customer is looking for. Now customer starts looking at “which of these brands meets my needs better”. Mostly it does get down to subjective & emotional decision basis the discussion he would have had with his peers or basis his past experience

This applies to not only the B2C business but also the B2B business .Many a times deals at B2B business gets closed at this stage. So the firms are being shortlisted for a deal & asked to come to pitch. Once they come to pitch, there are being evaluated not on whether they can do the job, but what is the team that they bring to do the job

Gate 5.Brand Loyalty:-

“Does the brand live upto its brand promise”?

At this stage the brand has been bought & experienced and it leads to series of decisions by customer. Should he purchase the same next time? Has it fulfilled his demands? Has it made him happy by using it? If brand can succeed through all these then we reach the ideal situation in the consumer decision making process,ie of brand loyalty

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