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Consumer’s Purchasing Decision Process

Describe about the Facets of Consumer Behavioral Decision for Commodities and Services.

Consumer behavior is the manner in which an individual or group of individual decides to purchase, use or dispose any ideas, commodities and services. It also refers to the factors that affect the purchasing decision of a consumer (Solomon, 2014). It is of utmost importance for any company to understand the detailed behavior of its consumers in order to maximize their sales.

The purchasing decision of any consumer mainly depends on 4 broad factors namely, Psychological factor, technological factors, social and situational factors. The psychological and situational factors consumers’ search for information and recognition of the products. The social and technological factors affect the component of purchasing and post-purchasing evaluation made by the consumer (Bruner & Pomazal, 2013).

Through this report a detailed analysis of all these components has been conducted to see the way in which all these components are inter-linked. It’s the consumers who create the demand for any goods and services and henceforth any company trying to excel in business keeps a detailed information about consumer behavior.

Consumers have several ex-ante and ex-post aspects in purchasing process. Some of the aspects can be visually observed whereas others are not observed visually but can be analyzed after studying the consumer’s psychology (Gao et al., 2012). The process of this purchasing decision has been graphically and contextually represented below:

The first and foremost component considered by any buyer before purchasing any goods or services is to identify the utility that they can get from their purchase. While trying to understand the possible benefit the user may get, they often faces recognition problem. The consumer should at first be able to recognize the need of purchasing a product and the opportunity that they may forgo without the product. Often the utility of certain products remains unrecognized (Gao et al., 2012).   

 A rational consumer always tries to gather the maximum information possible about the commodity that they plan to purchase. They can have two sources of collecting information. The internal source which depends on consumers’ previous experience and external source which depends on information obtained from markets, relatives and friends (Di Pietro & Pantano, 2012).

The demand for any products and services always depend on the alternatives available in the market. If there are umpteen numbers of alternatives in the market for the same product then the consumer has to consider the utilities that he may derive from the different alternatives along with the opportunity cost incurred in all the cases. Usually the consumer buys the product or service that maximizes his opportunity and minimizes his cost (Chang et al., 2014).

Problem of Recognition

The penultimate juncture of the economic activity is the purchasing stage. Consumer guided by their rationality goes through all the above mentioned stages and comes to the cessation of buying any commodity. Even during this stage the buyer may change his decision suddenly. These changes in decisions are guided by feedback as posted in the company’s website which sells the product. Negative feedback or pessimistic information from relatives and friends can alter the buying decision eve at the nick of time (Di Pietro & Pantano, 2012).

Every customer purchases the product with some pre-defined expectations. Failure of the product to meet customer’s expectation may hamper future sale of the product from that company. The customer may give poor reviews about the product on company’s website or on social media. Unsatisfied customer may also influence their relatives and friends who could otherwise be a potential customer (Chang et al., 2014).

Umpteen number of factors influence the decision making process of any transaction. They can be broadly clustered under 4 categories. The following graphical image explains the categories:

Strategy maker of business has been able to efficiently leverage the different factors which influence the consumers. Purchasing decision of a buyer depends substantially upon the people’s psychology (Solomon, Russel-Bennett & Previte, 2012). This component can again be further divided into few sub-categories namely:

Consumer has the habit of collecting and synchronizing all the available information about any given product. The probability of purchasing increases when consumer feels that there is enough information about the product and it bears less risk (Solomon, Russel-Bennett & Previte, 2012).

Common people are usually risk averse and their buying decision depends on the safety issues associated with the products. It is often observed that consumers are ready to pay a higher cost if a particular product is safer than its alternatives. E.g.: Organic foods are preferred to non-organic foods.

Buyers are usually captivated by colorful catchy advertisements. Business strategies often use product differentiation to float their products attract the targeted customers. They advertise on the basis of consumer’s lifestyle, personality traits and attitudes (Collier et al., 2015). E.g.: Pizza Huts’ sale soared up high after it allowed customization of Pizza via online order.

Shoppers often keep on updating themselves about the availability of various products and plans to purchase newfangled products. Hence, the firms require ameliorating their product portfolio to keep on attracting consumers. E.g.: People after incorporating all information switches over different online shops like Amazon, Flipkart, Snapdeal, etc.

Availability and accessibility of Information

Ex-ante buying decision is greatly influenced by situational factor which has been often ignored by the strategy makers till recent times. The physical surrounding, mood of the buyer and the time are the situational factors (Collier et al., 2015).

Buyers prefer to purchase goods and services from shops and centers that are in close proximity of their residence. If a firm can locate its outlets in densely populated public places then the scope of their products sale increases.

Time is the factor which remains covertly in any transaction. Consumers prefer to minimise their time in any physical transaction and expects things to be delivered within time in case of online transactions. Purchasing decisions are also clouted by people’s moods (Shah, 2013). Their preference often shows irrational changes which needs to be predicted by the firms and cater them accordingly. E.g.: People hate to stand in long queues and delayed services from online shopping portals.

Humans, being a social animal tend to be swayed in their decision process by the social factors. This factor includes components like family, households, reference groups and cultures (Kuan, Zhong & Chau, 2014). The impacts of these components are discussed below:

Reference groups:

People are emotional beings and they often act irrationally after being influenced. They has the tendency to follow the things that their idols to. Their idols can be a movie star, a player, any seniors and even family members. They are the ones who often set an example which is followed by the consumers. E.g.: Bollywood star Salman Khan is the brand ambassador of Thumbs Up, a soft drink company. A large mass of his followers drink Thumbs Up as Mr. Khan is seen drinking the same in an advertisement.

Conspicuous consumption takes place when people are influenced by their family members and relatives. It has been seen that if any member owns something then there is tendency of other family members to purchase the same in order to maintain status and swagger themselves (Xiao & Nicholson, 2013). E.g.: People often buys newly launched mobiles say iPhones, since its already been purchased by any family member or friend.

Sub-culture and Culture plays a pivotal role in controlling people’s behaviour. Global consumers tend to purchase products that are widely used in other countries. They tend to move out of their traditional choices and accept foreign cultures. Religions form an important part of sub-cultural component along with the geographical factors. A firm must set its marketing strategies in a way which incorporates these cultural and sub-cultural aspects (Kuan, Zhong & Chau, 2014).  

Alternatives Available

Global economy is paralyzed without the highly efficient technological system. The technological factors includes access to the internet, capabilities of persons to search and find the desired products, the proficiency of the customers to evaluate the products online and the post purchase response given by them. The producers or strategy makers should be able to analyze these factors from buyer’s viewpoint in order to succeed in their business (Baden-Fuller & Haefliger, 2013). They should provide the buyers an attractive yet informative website which gives detailed information at a glance and compels the buyer to go through the different web pages. E.g.: The customers nowadays buy products online thereby saving time.

Conclusion:

The global consumers can be broadly categorized into two groups, namely impulsive buyers and high-involvement buyers. Impulsive buyers change their mind frequently and purchases unplanned goods whereas high response buyers mainly conduct their purchasing process after detailed analysis of the market. Impulsive buyers mainly purchases small commodities like chocolates, dresses, accessories, etc. High response buying involves luxury goods like cars, jewellery, art works, etc. It can be concluded that the prosperity in the business depends on the extent to which a company could analyze the existing market by segregating the types of buyers and cater to their needs individually.

References:

Baden-Fuller, C., & Haefliger, S. (2013). Business models and technological innovation. Long range planning, 46(6), 419-426.

Bruner II, G. C., & Pomazal, R. J. (2013). Problem recognition: The crucial first stage of the consumer decision process. Journal of Consumer Marketing.

Chang, E. C., Lv, Y., Chou, T. J., He, Q., & Song, Z. (2014). Now or later: Delay's effects on post-consumption emotions and consumer loyalty. Journal of Business Research, 67(7), 1368-1375.

Collier, J. E., Moore, R. S., Horky, A., & Moore, M. L. (2015). Why the little things matter: Exploring situational influences on customers' self-service technology decisions. Journal of Business Research, 68(3), 703-710.

Di Pietro, L., & Pantano, E. (2012). An empirical investigation of social network influence on consumer purchasing decision: The case of Facebook. Journal of Direct, Data and Digital Marketing Practice, 14(1), 18-29.

Gao, J., Zhang, C., Wang, K., & Ba, S. (2012). Understanding online purchase decision making: The effects of unconscious thought, information quality, and information quantity. Decision Support Systems, 53(4), 772-781.

Kuan, K. K., Zhong, Y., & Chau, P. Y. (2014). Informational and normative social influence in group-buying: Evidence from self-reported and EEG data. Journal of Management Information Systems, 30(4), 151-178.

Maheswaran, D., & Shavitt, S. (2014). 0)“Issues and New Directions in Global Consumer Psychology.". Journal of consumer psychology, 9(2), 59-66.

Shah, S. M. A. (2013). Determinants of consumer buying decision An analysis based upon Product Branding (Doctoral dissertation, © Lahore School of Economics).

Solomon, M. R. (2014). Consumer behavior: Buying, having, and being. Engelwood Cliffs, NJ: prentice Hall.

Solomon, M., Russell-Bennett, R., & Previte, J. (2012). Consumer behaviour. Pearson Higher Education AU.

Xiao, S. H., & Nicholson, M. (2013). A multidisciplinary cognitive behavioural framework of impulse buying: a systematic review of the literature. International Journal of Management Reviews, 15(3), 333-356.

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