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Consumer Buying Process

Debayan Ganguly (Dev Ayan) is an MBA with 2 years of experience in B2B sales. He likes to write and spread his learnings through blogs.

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Watch the Video Version of this Blog on my YouTube channel

Introduction

In this blog we will learn about another part of consumer behavior, which is – Customer-Buying Process.

So what is this consumer buying process? It is the journey a customer goes through while making a purchase. It involves 5 stages.

Read more to know about each stage and how you can act as a marketer.

Need/Problem Recognition

The first and foremost thing is – Need/Problem Recognition.

At this stage, the customer should be aware that they need a pain point that a product can address.

For example, while purchasing a car, the customer must first identify that they need a car. The problem could be commuting to work, avoiding dependency on public transport, the need to travel for leisure, etc. Other needs could be social needs, status symbols, exclusivity, and the like.

For a product like mobile phones, the needs could be to be able to communicate, to be able to socialize on digital media, to share kinds of stuff, and to stay connected to people.

For an FMCG product like soap, the needs could be personal hygiene, beautification, sanitation, etc.

Let’s take another example, Life Insurances; people think about life insurance when they need to ensure their family’s financial safety, secure children’s education, and the like.

As marketers, you need to identify the need that your products answer to, the problems they resolve. If your product category is well known as soap or a car, you can skip this stage. Else if your product category is comparatively new, Start communicating about the need to the target market. For products with the latest technology and latest features, awareness creation becomes essential. You must have seen ads of Gold loan advertisements where the intention is to create awareness about the benefit of the products. They highlight the need for an instant loan using their gold assets.

Information Research

After the consumers are well aware of their needs, they would now seek information about solving those problems. They would seek to know more about products available to help them solve their problems and answer their needs. Places, where they will seek this information include online searches, advertisements from their peers or reference groups,

People deciding to buy a car would seek information about cars available, features, and benefits. They see car advertisements, visit auto expos, talk to dealers, ask their colleagues and relatives to gain as much information as they could get.

Mobile phones may get influenced by their friends, advertisements, promotional offers, and the like.

For soap, the information could be found through advertisements or their retail experience. They may find the soaps on display during purchase and find out about them while shopping.

Life insurance may be learned about from agents, advisors, and experienced professionals.

As marketers, after identifying the need, you need to make people aware of your products. The more you can work on the awareness level, the higher the chances of people including your products in the next stage. You need to be present where your customers are. You need to establish your products as a trustworthy ones, and something that has a solution to their problems. Highlight your products’ key benefits here.

Evaluation of Alternatives

After gathering all the information from the previous stage, your customers have moved on to the evaluation stage. In this stage, the customers have a set of brands in their final list. They now evaluate based on their specific needs. Now here is where positioning comes into play.

The car manufacturer would have to choose between the fastest car, the car with the highest mileage, the number of seats, etc. They will then choose the car that is well-positioned in specific benefits. If they are looking for high mileage cars, the ones known for giving more km per liter would be chosen.

Sometimes, the customer is seeking multiple benefits, so they will have to trade-off between one or the other to finalize a product.

The same goes for mobile phones where the choice is between camera quality, speaker qualities, HD support, RAM/ROM, battery capacity, etc.

For soaps, this evaluation is during purchase when the customers pick up each brand and evaluate them. Fragrance, medicinal components, brands, etc., play an essential role in this stage.

Evaluation criteria for insurances would be term duration, rate of return, amount insured, monthly payments, etc.

To attract the customer in this stage, you need to communicate your benefits and have your products positioned in the target market's minds.


Purchase

After all the evaluations are done, purchase happens. The customers do all the cost-benefit analysis and converge towards a product. The points of sale vary from product to product.

Cars are bought in showrooms, mobiles either online or offline, Soaps are bought at retail stores or eCommerce pantry stores, and Life Insurances can be bought through channels or online.

For offline sales, you need to have a strong sales team who would push your products to make the sale happen, and for online, people refer to the easy shopping experience, check out options SO have an excellent call to action wherever you are promoting.

Post Purchase Behavior

Now your customer has the car, the phone, the soap, or the insurance. Now what?

The post-purchase behavior of your customers becomes essential in two ways:

  1. Whether they will repeat the purchase in their next cycle
  2. Whether they will recommend this to their friends.

For Cars and phones, or Insurances, where the shelf life is high, the second factor becomes essential to bring more customers. For soaps, if they get the benefits they desired, they will be the ones coming back and purchasing the same again.

Try getting reviews, providing good services, and troubleshooting options so that their post-purchase attitude towards your products remains positive through the time they use them. Conduct market surveys to know the demand and pain points and the dynamicity of the consumer behavior to stay updated and curate products that best fit the market requirements.

This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2021 Debayan Ganguly

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