Consumer Purchase Dynamics

Understanding how consumers make choices and what factors influence a purchase decision can enhance your go-to-market strategies and messaging. You may even want to consider some research to provide clarity or get feedback on alternate marketing strategies.

Several purchase decision models have been developed by marketing consulting firms and academics. For most of us, a simple model is useful and instructive. Here is how we think about it.

First, consumers recognize a need or a problem. That need might surface from internal factors, such as products on hand have worn out or need replenishing. Or external factors such as fear, guilt or status can stimulate a consumer want. Marketing messaging from you and from competitors can have an impact at this stage. New product or new technology announcements also play a key role. “I just can’t live without the latest iPhone” is a well-known need for early adopters and Apple loyalists.

The next stage is information gathering. Here, consumers rely on their past interactions with your product(s), as well as reviews from trusted sources (like reviews on Amazon or publications like Consumer Reports). Consumers will browse online or at physical stores to inform themselves as to what is available and how those products are rated by users. If you can tell a compelling story about how your product is superior in performance, utility, or longevity, you will have a leg up when consumers move to the next stage.

In the third stage, consumers evaluate alternative products to meet their identified need. The decision criteria are different depending on what is most important for that purchaser. Some are motivated by price/value, others by style (or colors or materials), some by availability at their favorite store(s), many by your product’s benefits or features. Consumer browsing behavior can be valuable to you for search engine optimization and retargeting efforts. The more expensive the product, the more likely that the consumer will do extensive research to evaluate alternatives.

Then comes the moment of truth, the purchase decision. After weighing the facts and considering what matters to that consumer, they are ready to buy. For some, physical or tangible needs carry the most weight. For others, it is the emotional or psychological aspects that most heavily influence the purchase decision. Just be sure that your product is in stock and available to be purchased. Salespeople in stores should be well prepared to handle any installation or setup issues.

Lastly, consumers enter a post purchase evaluation stage where they assess their satisfaction compared with expectations. Here you may want to send out a thank you message with a request to register their product for a warranty (if available), or with offers or discounts for additional purchases or for add-on sales. If you have a newsletter or loyalty program, this is when you need to reach out and try to engage your buyers. Plus, ask for feedback so that you can continuously improve your product.

Certainly, outside influences can get in the way of a smooth buyer journey with potentially damaging outcomes. If there are stressful factors that come into play, consumers may delay or defer a purchase decision—things like a job loss, or relocation, or a death in the family. Those are the biggies. But even things like recovering from a sickness or injury, or a lack of sleep, feeling rushed, or time pressured can derail a purchase. Consumers tend to remember pain, whether real or perceived, to a greater degree than pleasure.

On the other hand, occasionally a purchase is viewed as a reward for reaching a milestone or accomplishing a major task or assignment. In these cases, your product can bask in the positive glow of that good fortune.

As the saying goes, not all consumers or buyers are created equally. So, you may want to do some research into the buyer’s journey to confirm your thinking on the features, benefits, and marketing messaging for your product. Qualitative research like focus groups can provide some quick directional data. For a more fundamental crossroads decision, it likely is better to field a quantitative study to get enough data to guide your strategy and product design choices. Be sure to recruit respondents that represent your core buyer segments.

At Damen Jackson, we have deep experience digging into the buyer’s decision making, and then translating those insights into actions. We thrive on helping clients get the biggest bang for their buck while staying keenly focused on being smart and nimble. We are here to be your partner, your conscience, your devil’s advocate—an extension of your team. And we will always bring the conversation back to strategy. How do we maximize the market opportunity for your brand, your business?

We were recently named #14 among the top 100 marketing and design agencies by Agency Spotter Top Agencies.

Importantly, we are pragmatic, focused, and energetic. We get assignments done well, and quickly.

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