Consumer Purchase Decision Process

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For the next week, keep a detailed purchase journal that includes what you’ve purchased and why. For each entry, label the purchase as a necessity or a want. Analyze your journal and write a paper that discusses your journal results and how your purchases were impacted by the Consumer Decision Making Process.

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The requirements below must be met for your paper to be accepted and graded:

  • Write between 500 – 750 words (approximately 2 – 3 pages) using Microsoft Word.
  • Attempt APA style, see example below.
  • Use font size 12 and 1” margins.
  • Include cover page and reference page.
  • At least 60% of your paper must be original content/writing.
  • No more than 40% of your content/information may come from references.
  • Use at least two references from outside the course material, preferably from EBSCOhost. Text book, lectures, and other materials in the course may be used, but are not counted toward the two reference requirement.

Reference material (data, dates, graphs, quotes, paraphrased words, values, etc.) must be identified in the paper and listed on a reference page.Reference material (data, dates, graphs, quotes, paraphrased words, values, etc.) must come from sources such as, scholarly journals found in EBSCOhost, online newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, government websites, etc. Sources such as Wikis, Yahoo Answers, eHow, etc. are not acceptable.

The Consumer Purchase Decision Process can be broken down into five components. We’ll look at each individually and then we’ll examine how the components fit together.

  • First, let’s look at Problem Recognition or Perceiving a Need. When we discuss problem recognition, we’re examining a perceived difference between a consumer’s actual situation and the decision making trigger. For example, an empty shampoo bottle could trigger the decision or exposure to a marketing campaign could trigger the purchase.
  • In the second stage, information searches are used to clarify the options open to the consumer. There are two steps to information searching; internal and external.
    • Internal information searching is done when the consumer scans their memory to recall previous experiences with products or brands. For example, a consumer standing in the laundry detergent aisle might consider a different brand because it’s on sale. Almost instinctively, the consumer will complete an internal search to determine if they have previously used the brand and what the results were. The product in question is low risk and the purchase frequency is high.
    • An external search is used in situations where the consumer is contemplating a larger purchase. For example, if the consumer is considering a vehicle purchase, past experience might be insufficient, meaning an internal search will not yield meaningful results. In this scenario, the cost of gathering information is low as friends, family, and public sources such as Consumer Reports could be used. The product in question is potentially high risk and the purchase frequency is low.
  • In the third step, the consumer performs an Alternative Evaluation and Assesses the Value of the transaction. In this step, data from the information search might suggest criteria for purchase (i.e. power windows, fuel efficiency) as well as brands that might meet criteria.
  • During the fourth step, the consumer makes determinations regarding Buying Value. In this step, three considerations are made including, from whom to buy (Target, Sears, etc.), when to buy (now or during a future sale), and whether or not to buy.
  • The final step is an examination of Post Purchase Behavior, or the consumer’s satisfaction with their transaction. This level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction could impact future purchases, repeat purchases, and consumer behavior. If anxiety exists post-purchase, it could be considered cognitive dissonance, also known as “buyer’s remorse”.

Each component and step of the purchase process is crucial in the consumer decision making process. As you shop and make purchases this week, consider how you work through each step and how those steps affect your decision making.

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