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FREE online courses on Consumer Behaviour and Motivation - Stages of Buying Process

Generally, the purchaser passes through five distinct stages in taking a decision for purchasing a particular commodity. These stages are: (i) need arousal, (ii) information search, (iii) evaluation behavior, (iv) purchase decision, and (v) post purchase feelings.

(i)                 Need arousal: The buying process starts with need arousal. A need can be activated through internal or external stimuli. A need can also be aroused by an external stimulus such as sight of a new thing in a shop while purchasing other things.

          There is two-fold significance of need arousal stage to a marketing man.

          1.       First the marketer must identify the drive that might actually or potentially connect to the product class or brand and make the buyer feel that the product can satisfy the drive, he feels, and

2.       It also helps recognize that the need levels for the product fluctuate over time and are triggered by different cues. The marketer can arrange cues to conform better to the natural rhythms and timing of need arousal.

(ii)               Information search: After need arousal, the consumer tries to solve it and gathers the sources and information about the product. Depending upon the intensity of need, it produces two states of individual. The first state is called heightened attention when the consumer becomes more receptive to the information regarding the item he needs. If a consumer needs to purchase a television, he will pay mere attention to TV ads and the remarks made by friends and associates about TVs.

If need is more intense, the individual enters a state of active information search and he tries to collect more information about the product, its key attributes, qualities of various brands and about the outlets where they are available. There are four consumer information sources.

          (i)       Personal sources (family, friends, neighbors etc.)

          (ii)      Commercial sources (advertisements, salesmen, dealers).

          (iii)     Public sources (mass media, consumer‑rating organizations).

          (iv)     Experiential sources (handling, examining, using the product).

Identifying the information sources and their respective roles and importance calls for interviewing consumers about the sources of information and can use the findings to plan its advertisements.

(iii)              Evaluation behavior: Having collected the information, the consumer clarify and evaluate the alternatives. There is, unfortunately no simple and single evaluation process used by all consumers or even by one consumer in all buying situations. The most current process of evaluation is to judge the product largely on a conscious and rational basis. Various considerations form the part of judgment such as product attributes, importance, weights, brand image, utility function for each attribute, and attitude etc. After evaluation of various alternatives, he takes the decision to buy.

(iv)             Purchase decision: Evaluation behavior leads the consumer to form a ranked set of preferences. Normally a consumer buys the article, he or she likes most but there are three more important consideration for taking the buying decision: (a) attitude of other such as of wife, relatives, and friends, (b) anticipated situational factors as expected family income, expected total cost of the product and the expected benefits of the product; (c) unanticipated situational factors as looks or manner of the salesman or the way business is carried on.

The marketer must consider these factors and should try to provoke the feeling of risk in the consumer And attempt to provide information and support that will help him.

(v)              Post purchase feelings: After buying and trying the product, the consumer will feel some level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction and level of satisfaction depends very much on the expectation and the product's perceived performance. If the product matches up to his expectations, the consumer is satisfied; if it exceeds, he is highly satisfied; and if it falls short of expectations, he is dissatisfied.

Participants in the buying process

There are the following different roles that persons can play in a buying decision:

1.                  Initiator: The initiator is a person who first suggests or think of the idea of buying the particular product. For example, publisher of a book initiates the professor to ask the students of his class to purchase the book. Here publisher is the initiator, the first person to initiate the buying process.

2.                  Influencer: Influencer is a person who explicitly or implicitly has some influence on the final buying decision of others. Students are influenced by the advice of the professor while taking a decision to purchase a book. Here professor is the influencer.

3.                  Decider: The decider is a person who ultimately determines any part or whole of the buying decision, i.e., whether to buy, what to buy, how to buy, when to buy or where to buy. Children are the deciders for buying the toys, house lady for kitchen provisions, and head of the family for durable or luxury items.

4.                  Buyer: The buyer is the person who actually purchase. Buyer may be the decider or he may be some other person. Children (deciders) are the deciders for purchasing the toys, but purchases are made by the parents.

5.                  User: User is the person who actually uses or consumes the services or products.

The marketer's task is to study the buying process and its main participants and their role in the buying process. He should initiate all of them to make the purchases of his product at different stages and through different strategies.

Techniques of motivation research

The following techniques are mainly employed for consumer behavior research or motivation research:

1.       Experience and knowledge technique,

2.       Traditional or questionnaire technique,

3.       Depth interview technique, and

4.       Projective techniques.

1.                  Experience and knowledge technique: Under this technique, buyers behavior is estimated on the basis of experience and knowledge gained by the marketing executives because of their close association with the customers. Through experience, they come to know what are the main buying motives for their products and why?

2.                  Traditional or questionnaire technique: A questionnaire is prepared by the marketer with the help of psychologists under this technique. The questionnaires so prepared, are sent to the selected consumers for their return to the company after they are duly filled in. The completed questionnaires received by the company are analyzed and results are extracted about the buyers' motives and behavior.

3.                  Depth Interview Technique: It is the method of probing the unconscious mind. It is time consuming technique and requires considerable patience. Under this technique, no direct question is asked by the interviewer but the interviewer talks with the consumer in free atmosphere so that the interviewee may express their views intensively. It is possible for the skilled interviewer to go deep and uncover information buried below the conscious mind.

4.                  Projective technique: The projective technique provides the subject with a stimulus situation that gives him an opportunity to impose upon it his own private needs and his particular perception and interpretation. The main projective techniques are as follows:

          (i)       The Thematic Appreciation Test (T.A.T.)

          (ii)      The Sentence Completion Test (S.C.T.)

          (iii)     The World Association Test (W.A.T.)

          (iv)     The Paired Pictures Test (P.P.T.)

(i)                 The Thematic Appreciation Test (T.A.T.): This test uses a series of pictures of people in some unstructured doubtful form of action. The respondent is needed to see these pictures one at a time and to narrate the story of the picture. The answers are then interpreted by an analyst skilled in the test.

(ii)               The Sentence Completion Test (S.C.T.): Most useful and reliable of all the indirect or projective tests is the sentence completion test. In the motivation aspects of marketing research the test is used to uncover emotional responses to products or marketing situations but the reliability of the conclusion depends much on skill of the interpreter.

(iii)              The Word Association Test (W.A.T.): Here instead of a phrase of a sentence, a single word is used. The informant is required to say immediately what other word comes into his or her mind.

(iv)             The Paired Pictures Test (P.P.T.): In this, two persons are shown in the pictures. For example, one picture shows a woman opening a popular brand refrigerator and another picture shows a similarly dressed woman opening a refrigerator of another brand. The respondents are asked to tell any story about these two women opening the refrigerators. The difference in interpretation tells different attitudes they have about the set of pictures.


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