Understanding the buying process is an integral part of developing a sound marketing strategy. From the early stages, in which consumers recognize a need and search for information, to the later stages, including purchase decisions and post-purchase behaviors, each step in the buying process reveals critical information that is useful to marketers. In this series, we’ll explore the different models that define the buying process, break down the allure of exclusivity and scarcity as it pertains to consumer behaviors, and examine the epic failure of a household name in the retail space.
At times, purchasing a product or service is an emotional investment. Consumers first recognize that they have a need or problem, often triggered by stimulation. Whether it be internal stimuli, such as hunger or thirst, or external stimuli, a television commercial or advertisement, this trigger accelerates the recognition of a need that must be fulfilled. This is the most important stage in the buying process. Without recognition of a problem, purchasing cannot take place. After the need has been identified, consumers advance to the exploration stages.
Now we have a problem. How do we resolve it? We search for information and evaluates alternatives, or competitors. The significance of the purchase affects the duration of these stages. If you’re buying a blender, you may spend some time browsing consumer reviews and pricing comparisons, but ultimately, you know what you’re getting in a blender. And it won’t break the bank. If you’re buying a bed, not only are you online checking out reviews, but you’re in the stores lying down to test comfortability, durability, and specifications. I bring my tape measure and pillows. This is an investment – something you know you’ll be using for a long period of time, and you want to get it right. This, too, is a powerful stage in the buying process, because this is when you can capture the height of emotion. In some cases, impulsivity takes over, and the need, coupled with a primed solution, overpowers the ability to reason. You can thank millennials for the increase in impulse buying. Technology and accessibility is and will to continue to shape how and what we buy. But that’s a story for another day. For now, let’s move on to the next stage – making a decision.
Purchasing decisions can be significantly deterred by the information and evaluation stages. Think of consumers as pedestrians at a crosswalk on information superhighway. It can be difficult to cross that road in the midst of distractions, such as negative consumer reviews, near endless product selection, and sheer indecisiveness. As marketers, it’s our job to build a bridge to ease access to the other side of the road – to establish a convenient and sensible path to our products and services. Understanding the significance of consumer reviews and volume of noise consumers encounter during the buying process will help bridge the gap. Monitoring consumer reviews of your products and encouraging consumers to leave positive reviews will allow you to gain control of your customer experience.
Purchasing is obviously important, but after consumers buy, a whirlwind of emotions can take place. This is the stage of post-purchase behaviors. Think customer retention. They’ve purchased your product, and now they’re either satisfied or dissatisfied. This directly relates to the aforementioned section regarding consumer reviews. Naturally, if someone is unhappy with a product or purchasing experience, they’re more likely to leave negative feedback, as to compared to a consumer who has had a positive experience leaving positive feedback. Being proactive in this space can pay dividends. If someone is unhappy, find out why, acknowledge the concern, and improve the buying experience. Likewise, if someone loves the product, employ a retention strategy to keep them coming back. The post-purchase behavior stage is what makes or breaks businesses. You want people to buy once. But that’s not scalable. Being aware of these post-purchase behaviors can help you build a sound customer retention strategy and create brand loyalty. Loyal customers tell their friends. And they tell their friends.
In following installations in this series, we’ll dive into the correlation between the buying process, exclusivity of luxury products and scarcity as it pertains to sales items. Here’s a sneak peek.
But, it’s on sale
When it comes to basic economics, scarcity and exclusivity can lead to an increase in demand and a greater sense of value for products. In this segment, we’ll explore the power of sale strategies and the allure of exclusive or limited edition products in the luxury space.
Everyday low prices
JCPenney’s major pricing misstep has haunted them for nearly a decade. After the initial debacle, which included the replacement of sales through coupons with everyday low prices, JCPenney is still losing money and burning cash, with no turnaround in sight. In this segment we’ll break down the pricing strategy, why it failed, and how it affected consumer behavior.