Product promotion and advertisements are present wherever you go, from the minute you open up a YouTube video or the second you roll down the window and see a billboard looking straight back at you, there’s no way escaping them. However, these marketing methods often come off as up in your face and can be distasteful at times when it’s pushed too strong. Hence, we need to understand and adopt the consumer decision-making process into our marketing strategy.
You see, marketing relies on extensive research and critical analysis as its basis for planning and strategy development, and consumer behavior is either overlooked or overemphasized to the point of analysis-paralysis. At the core of an effective marketing strategy is recognizing and working around consumer behavior. If we want to increase our customer conversion rates, we must learn how consumers go about making purchase decisions.
#1 Need Recognition
You’ve probably heard this over a million times now, but businesses turn a profit by answering a need or providing a solution to a problem. Likewise, the consumer decision process always starts at recognizing their needs, how soonest they should get them, and the significance of the purchase. So, before we can move on to stage two, you must evaluate your products and services and identify your unique value proposition.
Take, for example, Bumble Dating App’s unique proposition of allowing women to make the first move in the online dating scene. This concept sparks interest and for all the women struggling to land first-dates works out to be an excellent solution. It’s a novel idea on a proven-method of meeting romantic interests and passes the first stage for need recognition.
#2 Information Search
Once consumers know what they need, the next step of the consumer decision-making process calls for an information search. Unlike before, where people relied on friends and family for recommendations, people nowadays Google everything they need, and whichever search results come out first gets recency bias. But it doesn’t stop there; people are more vigilant today and will not stop at a single Google search. In fact, they’ll be busy going through reviews and any related post to grasp all their straws.
With all of this in mind, to take advantage of stage two, you’ll want to blend the use of field marketing and digital marketing to get your brand name and service out there for the world to see. If you’re a more localized business that depends on local clients like preschool programs, focus on field marketing and establishing a strong social media presence for your area. If you rely on global customers like a backup storage solution, focus on SEO, paid ads, and other digital marketing methods.
#3 Evaluation of Alternatives
After an information search, consumers won’t just cling to the first thing they find but evaluate all the alternatives available to them. Your products and services will be put up against your competition, and consumers will decide based on preference, need, accessibility, quality, and any other factor significant to them.
There’s not much you can do when customers bring up their personal preferences, much like how other people prefer Spotify’s podcast library or how people prefer the Apple Music interface. You can choose to highlight positive and critical reviews to help give you an edge, but beyond that, you’ll have to trace back to product development and implement innovative features that’ll persuade customers to choose your brand.
#4 Purchase Decision
Once consumers choose their preferred service or brand, we arrive at the fourth stage of the purchase decision. In this stage, the consumer will finally buy the product after recognizing their needs, doing their research, and evaluating all the alternatives. And, since you already know they’re a paying customer, you can now focus on experience and encourage repeat customers.
Marketing isn’t just about increasing customers but also keeping them, so once you reel them in, good service and excellent customer experience will go a long way. In this stage, you can also implement upselling and cross-selling tactics to introduce them to other products that they might be interested in.
#5 Post-Purchase Evaluation
Lastly, we have the final stage: a post-purchase evaluation. Consumers like to think about their purchase and evaluate if their money was well-spent, how it could’ve been better, or things that didn’t live up to their standards. And all of these viewpoints are useful information to help improve your product and service.
Your marketing strategy can take advantage of this final stage by getting honest feedback from your customers. And apart from getting ideas to explore, you also have the added benefit of presenting yourself as an honest and caring brand that values its customers.
Remember, Your Customers Are More Than Just Numbers
Overall, we think that understanding the consumer decision-making process is an excellent tool for analyzing buyer behavior and identifying key areas that can help us market our products and services better. However, always remember that your customers are more than just quantities to be studied. Keep in mind that these are still unique people, so understand when to be analytical and when to consider the social aspects of your marketing plan.