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Consumer Decision Making Process


The Consumer Decision Making Model is the process that all consumers go through when making a purchase. There are 5 main steps in this model that look more in detail at the thought process behind the purchase.


I first learned about this during my Consumer Behavior class in college at Northwest Missouri State. At the beginning of every class, my teacher would have us repeat these 5 steps because she knew how important they were in the marketing world!


Here are the 5 steps to the Consumer Decision Making Model:

  1. Problem/ Need Recognition

  2. Information Search

  3. Alternative Evaluation

  4. Choice

  5. Outcome


First, let's look at Problem/Need Recognition. There are a couple of different influences when it comes to recognizing your problem or need, external influences and internal needs. This stage is where the consumer realizes the difference and distance between their actual state (where they currently are) and their desired state (where they want to be).


The second is Information Search. This stage is where people begin to look for a solution to their needs or problems, and oftentimes this is where you would Google search some ideas to discover your options.


The third step is Alternative Evaluation. This stage is where the consumer compares the options at hand to decide what would fit best for them.


Step four is where you make your Choice. This is where you make your decision and purchase the goods.


Lastly, and probably the most important step is the Outcome. This is where the consumer decided whether the purchase was worth it or not, and this stage often dictates whether they will make a repeat purchase. This is huge because repeat customers often make up 80% of your income while new customers only make up 20%.


Here is an example of the consumer decision-making model. I get home after work and am super hungry after a long day (problem recognition). I then look in my kitchen to see if I have anything that sounds appetizing, if nothing looks good, I get on google maps to see what I could easily pick up (information search). Now I try to decide between my options at home and what might sound good going out to eat (alternative evaluation). I decide to go out and pick up a couple of tacos from Taco Bell (choice). Once I get home, I eat my tacos and very much enjoy how they taste and the price that I got them for (outcome).


This may seem like a fairly simple example, but it is an everyday occurrence of the process that we go through to do some of the simple things of life.



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