Consumers’ Decision Making Process
What Exactly is the Consumer Decision Making Process?
While making decisions customers go through 5 different steps:-
1. Need Recognition – the awareness that there’s a gap between where we are and where we want to be.
2. Information Search – once we determine that we have a little need we want to go away, we look at alternatives to satisfy that need.
3. Evaluation – which is just a fancy word meaning we use something to help us rank the product alternatives that turn up in our search.
4. Decision — Whatever evaluation tool we use, we come up with some type of decision that we are going to buy Brand X.
5. Post-Purchase Evaluation – but, we’re not done when we make our purchase, we still have to decide whether we like the product (satisfaction) and whether we like the process we used to make our decision.
How Social Media Impacts Consumer Decision Making
A few years ago, advertising had a significant impact on the consumer decision-making process. Certainly, word of mouth had a major impact on consumer buying decisions, but pre-social networks, word of mouth had not yet gone too far.
Now, social media gives word of mouth. The impact of social media on awareness, brand attitudes, and social norms is so strong that we often refer to viral marketing or buzz marketing, which reflects a strategy designed to stimulate positive word of mouth.
1. Need Recognition – as we said early, we have a bunch of needs. Actually limitless needs we have. And social media shapes those needs. When you see pictures posted by a friend on different social media, then you also want to do that kind of thing.
2. Information Search – this is the most obvious impact on consumer buying decisions from social media. Folks ask friends for recommendations on social networks or consult social networks for evaluations before buying a product.
And friends offer free recommendations either directly, through their endorsement of the brand, or indirectly, by showing images of them with the brand or checking in at the location using apps.
3. Decision – Social media impacts consumer’s decisions because friends can help you find the brand you decided to buy, talk you out of it if they don’t agree, maybe even help find a way to pay for the item. Social media either helps overcome obstacles or puts more obstacles in the way of buyers who have decided on a purchase.
4. Post-Purchase Evaluations – social media has a big impact on cognitive dissonance. Let’s say you just bought a new car and a friend’s posts about a different new car they just bought and how wonderful it is.
Or, you just spent some money on a new dress and now your friends are talking about taking a ski trip next weekend, but you don’t have the money.
Or, you post an image of yourself in the new dress and everyone either tells you it’s ugly or ignores your post — because if you can’t say something nice, just don’t say anything.
How Marketers Can Benefit From Understanding the Consumer Decision-Making Process?
Marketers need to understand the consumer decision-making process in order to aid consumers in deciding to buy their brand just one of the many reasons you should use a marketer to do your social media marketing NOT a journalist, an IT wiz (web design or business intelligence), or your cousin who has a great Facebook profile. You need to understand what’s going on in consumers’ heads to optimize your return.
Understanding the consumer decision-making process and developing social media tactics to make sure your brand is making the cut at each stage in the process will propel your brand to the top.
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