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The Consumer Buying Decision Process

Smart companies try to fully understand customers’ buying decision process—all the experiences in learning, choosing, using, and even disposing of a product. Figure 5.3 shows the five stages of the process: problem recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, and postpurchase behavior. Note that consumers don’t always pass through all five stages— they may skip or reverse some. The model provides a good frame of reference because it captures the full range of considerations that arise when a consumer faces a highly involving new purchase.

Problem Recognition

The buying process starts when the buyer recognizes a problem or need triggered by internal or external stimuli. With an internal stimulus, one of the person’s normal needs—hunger or thirst— rises to a threshold level and becomes a drive. A need can also be aroused by an external stimulus, such as seeing an ad. Marketers want to identify the circumstances that trigger a particular

FiGURE 5.3 Five-Stage Model of the Consumer Buying Process

need by gathering information from a number of consumers. They can then develop marketing strategies that spark consumer interest.

 
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