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Marketing Academy.

The five steps of the consumer decision making process

When we talk about decision-making we mean the path through which the consumer, exposed to different types of influence, makes the decision to purchase a certain product instead of another.

In the analysis phase of a marketing plan, it is the first element to take into consideration. In fact, without knowing how the consumer's mind operates, the actions taken by the company would be in vain.

The most common model that we will present here was proposed for the first time byJohn Dewey in 1910. Dewey was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas influenced education and social reform.

John Dewey
John Dewey

Although this was not the first attempt to address the problem of consumer behavior, it was by far the most influential and has undergone a number of improvements over the years.

There are five phases:

  1. Recognition of need: The consumer realizes that he has a need that is not satisfied. It can happen directly or indirectly, or through endogenous stimuli (I realize that I don't have a jacket for the winter and I go to buy it) or exogenous stimuli (I see an advertisement for a jacket on TV and I want to buy it).

  2. Search for alternatives The consumer tries to acquire all the information necessary to make a decision. The search takes place through various sources, such as social sources represented by communication with other people, and is also one of the most decisive. Then there are communication sources, such as advertising and promotions, or sources based on the experience of use (when the buyer has the opportunity to test the product before purchasing it).

  3. Evaluation of alternatives: The consumer compares the different products available on the market to identify the one best suited to their needs. In this phase the potential customer carefully analyzes the pros and cons of each possible alternative such as quantity, quality, price, brand and distribution channels.

  4. Purchase decision: the consumer chooses the product to purchase based on the evaluation criteria established previously. It represents the financial commitment to purchase a specific product.

  5. Post-purchase impression: the consumer evaluates whether the purchased product was able to meet expectations. In this context, the possibility of positive or negative feedback on the product may arise. If the feedback is positive, there is an opportunity for customer loyalty.

Furthermore, it is important for a company to recognize and try to predict the various types of influences that impact the decision-making process. They can be:

  • Social influences: include culture, which affects an individual's needs and desires, as well as social classes, which influence attitudes and behaviors.

  • Marketing influences: for the consumer, the appearance, functionality and price of the product, advertising, promotions and how the product is distributed are important (almost always indirectly).

  • Situational influences: these are all those factors that have an effect on consumer behavior (for example the socio-cultural environment or geographical location).

  • Psychological influences: here there appear to be two relevant factors: the Product Knowledge, or the complex of information regarding a product and possible alternatives, and the Product Involvement, or the consumer's perception of the importance and necessity of that good.


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