The consumer buying decision process involves 5 stages:
- Problem or need recognition:
– The buying process begins with a recognition on the part of an individual or organization that they have a problem or need e.g. the farmer recognizes that he/she is approaching a new cultivation season and requires seed.
- Information search:
– Information gathering may be passive or active.
– Passive information gathering occurs when an individual or group simply becomes more attentive to a recognized solution to a given need.
– In other circumstances the individual is proactive rather than reactive with respect to information.
- Evaluation of alternatives:
– The process of evaluating alternatives not only differs from customer to prospective customer but the individual will also adopt different processes in accordance with the situation.
– It is likely that when making judgments customers will focus on those product attributes and features that are most relevant to their needs at a given point in time.
- Purchase decision:
– At the evaluation stage the prospective customer will have arrived at a judgment about his/her preference among the evoked set and have formed a purchase intention.
– However, two factors can intervene between the intention and the purchase decision: the attitude of others and unanticipated events.
– For example, a farmer may state an intention to purchase a mechanical thresher within the next twelve months but when his/her implicit assumption of ‘a good harvest’ is not realized, due to drought, the purchase of the machine is postponed.
- Post-purchase behavior:
– Having procured the product the customer will experience either satisfaction or dissatisfaction with his/her purchase.
– The level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction is largely a function of the congruence between the buyer’s expectations of the product and the product’s perceived performance.
– If the product’s perceived performance either matches or exceeds its expected performance then the buyer is likely to feel highly satisfied and vice-versa.