Decades ago, consumers did not have as much information as they do today, so advertising played an important role in their purchase decision. The spread of the Internet has made consumers more informed, more demanding and demanding a greater degree of personalization, so that marketing has had to reinvent itself to meet these new demands throughout the customer journey . Understanding each of the stages of the consumer purchase decision process allows us to design a more effective marketing strategy that provides the correct information at all times.

The stages of the consumer purchase decision process

Before choosing a product or service, the consumer goes through a series of stages that make up the purchase process, from the moment he realizes that he has an unsatisfied need until he finally chooses one of the alternatives that exist in the market. These are the stages of the purchase decision process, according to Philip Kotler:

1. Recognition of need

The consumer’s purchase decision process begins with the recognition of the unmet need or the problem to be solved. You can become aware by yourself or through external factors that make you notice. When the need or problem becomes important enough, it energizes behavior and motivates the consumer to do more research on the topic. In this first stage of the purchase decision, the marketing strategy focuses on creating awareness of the problem or need, fundamentally through informative or educational content.

2. Search for information

When the consumer is aware of their need, the next step is often to search for information to identify the options that can satisfy it. Kotler explains that in some cases “light search” occurs , so that the consumer is simply more receptive to information about a product or service. In other cases, the consumer undertakes an active search for information, whether on the Internet, consulting his friends or visiting stores. At this stage of the purchase decision process, the marketing strategy focuses on providing content that outlines the possible solution.

3. Evaluation of alternatives

The consumer uses the information they have collected to choose a series of options that may satisfy their need or solve their problem. However, there is no single evaluation process, but rather different purchase decision models depending on the situation. For example, the brand evaluation and selection process can be based on a single criterion, such as price, or include different assessments, such as quality, design, functionality or even corporate social responsibility. At this stage of the consumer’s purchasing decision process, the marketing strategy highlights the advantages of the product or service in question.

4. Purchase decision

At this stage the consumer develops the purchase intention. Once you have mapped the market, you will most likely buy the product or service of the brand of your choice, although there are different factors that influence the purchase decision process, such as the attitudes and opinions of others. In this phase, the consumer not only chooses the brand but also other details : he decides the purchase channel, how to receive the delivery or the payment method. The marketing strategy at this stage consists of showing the differential value of the product and convincing the consumer that it is better than the competition.

5. Post-purchase behavior

A consumer’s purchasing decision process does not end with the purchase of the product or service. After the purchase, the consumer usually remains attentive to all kinds of information that ratifies his decision . Therefore, you may experience dissonance due to some product features or favorable comments about other brands. Therefore, in the post-sale stage, marketing communications focus on reinforcing the consumer’s choice and helping them feel satisfied to increase the chances that they will choose the brand again in the future.

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