There are a lot of factors in play to convince a customer to make a purchase.
First, the store has to stand out among competitors. In a shopping mall where other, more established brands are around, it is challenging to entice and capture potential buyers’ attention. This is where the store’s overall appearance comes in. Entrepreneurs invest money toward improving window displays. They work with sign companies to design eye-catching logos and decals for the exterior to lure passers-by into entering the store.
Next, the products have to be arranged in a way that encourages spending. Retailers use so many strategies to convince a customer to push through with the purchase: gimmicks such as sales about to end and free item giveaways.
These external factors work to turn passers-by into buying customers. However, consumers also go through a decision-making process before they make the purchase.
Knowing what goes through in consumers’ minds can help entrepreneurs devise an effective marketing scheme that will boost profit and increase customer satisfaction.
A consumer making dinner finds out that they have run out of pepper. This is the primary stage of the decision-making process. The buyer first has to identify the problem, called the need recognition, before they take steps toward making a purchase.
Generally, without need recognition, there would not be a transaction. It will become much harder to convince them to part with their hard-earned cash.
There are two ways the need recognition can be triggered: internal and external stimuli. A person on their way to work early in the morning feels sleepy and, therefore, would decide to buy a coffee cup to feel more awake. Sleepiness, hunger, thirst, or an ailment are considered internal stimuli. Meanwhile, advertising is an external stimulus. Seeing a commercial for a massage chair convinces a customer to place an order.
However, need recognition alone would not lead to a purchase. They will conduct an information search for options available to them.
Usually, with external stimuli, consumers will look for product descriptions and read reviews from previous buyers. With Google and Facebook, it is easier to gather information about a certain item or brand they encounter for the first time.
On the other hand, if the goods or services are not entirely new, such as when one feels hungry and wants to eat, consumers will remember which restaurants they liked in the past and choose based on their prior experience.
Evaluation of Options
With so many other brands out there competing for attention, consumers have to take the time to assess each option available to them. In this stage, a customer will have to weigh the pros and cons of a product, comparing its attributes to an alternative.
New models from Apple and Samsung have been released, and both companies are heavily advertising their respective products. The customer reads the features and specifications of each model. They watch reviews to see the opinion of others about the products. The next stage involves deciding between an iPhone or a Galaxy S unit by enumerating both smartphones’ strengths and weaknesses as well as the customer’s own preferences, budget, and lifestyle.
Once the customer has decided which product they need, it is time for the next step: the purchase. However, it is still not an assurance that they will complete the transaction. Some factors disrupt the decision-making process.
For example, while heading to the store, the customer overhears another customer talking about their bad experience with the product. A negative review can put off consumers from making the purchase.
A long line at the cashier, a complicated signup process on an e-commerce platform, or expensive shipping cost may deter a customer from purchasing.
The decision-making process does not end with the purchase. After the customer walks out of the store or receives their orders in the mail, they will continue to evaluate the product.
The customer will ask if the product provides a solution to the problem or fulfills their need. They will test whether the product delivers on its promises.
If they are satisfied, the purchase was a success, and the customer will likely buy again. However, if they are unhappy with it, they may return the product, leave a bad review, and never recommend the store to their friends and acquaintances.
Entrepreneurs should be aware of the stages that every customer goes through before making a purchase. They could leverage this knowledge into creating strategies that will convince the customer that they need the product, that it is a good product, and the product is the best option in the market.