The 5 Steps Of The Consumer Buying Decision-Making Process

What Is The Consumer Buying Decision-Making Process?

One of the most important things you need know about your business is your customer buying decision-making process. Humans have a particular way they tend to go about any type of decision they need to make, especially when it comes to spending money.

Understanding how, why, and when people choose to buy is vital information for any business owner to know. Knowing the entire process that a buyer goes through as they make decisions about what to purchase can help you improve your products, showcase your products as the leading choice, as well as help you create and implement your advertising and marketing plans.

Five-Stage Customer Buying Decision-Making Process

There are a lot of studies and literature regarding the decision-making process of buyers. Even so, most models follow one created by John Dewey in 1910, and despite all the technological changes, this model still works.

  1. Problem recognition
  2. Information search
  3. Evaluation of alternatives
  4. Purchase decision
  5. Post-purchase evaluation

As you study your customer’s buying decision-making process, you’ll start to understand their behavior. When you know your buyers’ behavior, you can develop better marketing and even better products.

You’ll also be able to identify sources of information that your customers rely on. This will allow you to access factors that influence your customers and guide them toward purchasing your products and services.

FREE Checklist: Create An Effective Sales Funnel

Stage #1: Problem Recognition

Consumer Buying Decision-Making ProcessThis stage in the decision-making process is when the consumer realizes they have a need or a problem they need to solve.

For example, let’s say the consumer has lost or broken their smartphone, so now they need to buy another. Their need is for communication, internet access, or just because they like having a smartphone to interact with family and friends. Plus, they love sharing their life on Instagram. Because they love Instagram, they also want a smartphone that has a good camera along with all the bells and whistles that make sharing online easy.

As you can see in this process, now that they’ve accepted and acknowledged the need, they’re also setting up criteria for what will solve the problem.

Stage #2: Information Search

Now that the consumer has defined their problem, it’s time to start searching for information and products that can satisfy the need. The buyer will conduct research to investigate the available options.

They may ask a friend, look online, visit local shops, read newspapers, books, magazines, blogs, and so forth to gather information. Most people today go right to Google Search or even YouTube, where they type in their questions to find suitable products and solutions.

Using the smartphone purchase example above, the consumer may simply call their old provider, ask their best friend what they use, or since they want to use the phone for Instagram, they may seek advice from an Instagram influencer to find out what the best smartphone is for Instagram.

Stage #3: Evaluation of Alternatives

During the research stage of the decision-making process, the consumer finds alternatives that they need so that they can be compared to figure out which choice is best for their problem. This is the time that they evaluate each option and will even consider the risks, consequences, and trade-offs of the purchase.

Often at this point, the consumer also tries to ensure that their choice matches their values and principles, while also excluding any outliers that they consider too risky. They may even try some of the products at this point to see how they like it. They consider price, brand, and many other factors during the evaluation.

FREE Checklist: Create An Effective Sales Funnel

Stage #4: Purchase Decision

At some stage during the evaluation of alternatives, the consumer gets ready and then finally makes their choice and completes the purchase. At this point, they’ll call, click, or physically go make their purchase. If nothing goes wrong during this process, they’ll have committed to the final buying decision. They are, finally, your customer at this point.

Be aware that you can lose your customer even after they choose your product to buy, if you’re not careful about ensuring that their user experience matches up to their expectations. Double-check your shopping cart and checkout process to ensure there are no roadblocks for your customers at this point. Also, double-check your product to ensure it lives up to the hype.

Make your customers feel special even when they’re in your shopping cart. You want them to feel safe to click through and buy. Offer lots of directional cues on your sales page and provide a high level of customer care at this point so that if they have a question as they’re buying, they aren’t left in the dark.

Stage #5: Post-Purchase Evaluation

At this point, the buyer has become your customer and made the purchase. Now they’re either going to be happy about their purchase, feel ‘meh’ about their purchase, or they’re going to be upset about it and experience buyer’s remorse. Depending on what happens at this stage will either turn your customer into a devoted fan who will buy again and recommend you to others, or an angry consumer who wants their money back.

If the consumer purchased a specific smartphone believing it had the best camera and features that worked for Instagram, and it does what they thought it would, they’ll be delighted. If it doesn’t, they may feel like they wasted their money because it doesn’t solve the problem that they’d thought it would.

Free Checklist: How To Develop The Buying Decision-Making Process

When you go through the entire five-stage buying decision-making process on behalf of your customers, it becomes a lot easier to identify the advertising and marketing collateral that you’ll need to develop to ensure that you help them through the buying journey at every stage of the decision-making process. This is your sales funnel.

A sales funnel is a series of steps designed to guide and inform potential customers about a product or service. To discover more about creating effective sales funnels, download my free Sales Funnel Checklist and turn your prospects into paying customers.


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