Understanding Your Customers’ Buying Process

Many business owners believe the consumer buying process is randomized. However, studies have found there to be a distinctive set of steps most consumers follow before making a purchase.

Here is a simple breakdown of what goes on inside the head of prospective customers during the buying process and how you can effectively market to them at each stage.


Need or Problem Recognition

This is the most important stage of the entire process. Without a consumer’s recognition of a need, there is no purchase. This recognition happens when a consumer sees a lag between their actual situation and their ideal or desired position. The best way to grab the attention of these potential customers is through advertisements that display your product or service as a solution to a specific problem.


Information Search

In this stage, the consumer is gathering information on the different solutions they’re being presented. This is done through an internal search (use of information one has dedicated to memory) as well as an external search (seeking out information from outside sources such as online searches, brief in-store visits, and customer reviews). At this stage, it is important to already be an established brand and perceived industry leader. You can also increase your brand credibility by continuing to build relationships with previous customers. This can be done through exclusive coupons or deals and follow-ups. If you keep a previous purchaser engaged with your business and brand, they will be far more likely to pass along their positive opinion of your product or service. This is critical because most consumers gravitate toward the brands and products friends and family have suggested.


Alternative Evaluation

At this point, consumers are seeking the choice that best suits their specific needs. They will evaluate the product or service attributes based on features, functionality, and perceived value. By providing concrete information pertaining to products or services and exhibiting their added value compared to your competitors, you will simplify the buying process for prospective customers and establish a more trusting relationship.


Purchase Decision

At this stage, the customer is ready to buy and will proceed to purchase the product or service that appears to meet the criteria from the evaluation stage and ultimately solve the problem. The shopping experience is important to this stage as the ultimate purchase, while seemingly set in stone, can be changed based on the experience. The best way to improve the experience is by increasing perceived value through coupons or promotions and demonstrating ease of purchase, in store and online. This ease includes a solid return policy and friendly, informative, and non-overbearing service associates.


Post Purchase Behavior

During this stage, the consumer is now using the product and determining whether the purchase was an adequate solution to the problem. Opinions are developed about the product that will affect future buying decisions. To avoid reputation damage, provide well-trained customer service representatives who are dedicated to remedying any issues or dissatisfaction with the product or service. A follow-up on the purchase also shows initiative and a sense of genuine concern.


In conclusion, it is imperative to be proactive and take the necessary actions to integrate your brand into the minds of consumers through the entire buying process. Be aware of your continued importance once the product or service has left your hands as future purchases are affected by the positive or negative opinions built. Don’t let your product or service be left out to dry!