Decisions, Decisions, Decisions 13 July, 2010

Decisions are made by people all day, and every day. A key question for marketers then becomes "How can we influence those decisions in our favor?" Interestingly, the answer is more defined than one might think. There is a pattern that most people follow when making decisions. The steps are outlined below.

1. Problem recognition - This is caused by seeing a difference in reality and ideal. A marketing message can cause a customer to recognize this difference.
2. Information search - Consumers identify solutions based on memories or the external environment. Marketing communicates information about products in hopes of leaving the consumer with good memories of it's product.
3. Evaluation of alternatives - Consumers narrow down solutions based on what they like, as well as what is feasible. Marketing attempts to get consumers to use evaluative criteria that is in their favor.
4. Product choice - Consumers use heuristics to make a final decision. Marketing attempts to communicate which heuristics are important. Examples are price equals quality, brand loyalty, and country of origin matters.
5. Post-purchase evaluation - Consumers decide if the decision they made was a good one. They compare what they received with a standard of what they thought they would receive. This has a large effect on how the consumer perceives that company, along with the company's brand and products.

Consumer's decisions in this model can be influenced by a number of factors.
1. Perception: Exposure, Attention, and Interpretation of marketing and critic messages.
2. Learning: Associating similar products, having consequences, receiving bundled stimulus, and observing others.
3. Motivation: Consumers divide needs into categories based on Maslow's hierarchy of needs (survival, safety, belonging, confidence, self-fulfillment). Originally it was thought that a lower level needed to be satisfied before higher levels, but in practice this is not always the case.

Figure 1 - Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Personality traits also affect decisions:
Having the desire to try new things, own products, interact socially, and think about things affect what a consumer buys. Self confidence is also a big personality determinant.

Age, family life cycle, psychographics (grouping people depending on activities, interests, and opinions [AIOs]), arousal, pleasure, time, culture, social class, group think, opinion leaders, sex roles, and product communities all influence a consumer's decisions.

Another determinant is self concept. Self concept is the set of beliefs a person holds about themselves (attributes and abilities). People may have different self concepts at different times depending on what situation they are in and who they are with. This is important because it means that marketing must make sure the correct self concept is active when marketing communications are made.

The ideal self seems to be more influential than the actual self when dealing with social products. When dealing with functional products, actual self seems to take precedence.

This model is indeed more structured that meets the eye, and marketers can use it to their advantage.

No comments:

Post a Comment