How do clients make buying decisions?

DSM Digital School of Marketing - buying decision

To truly thrive as a marketing professional, you need a basic understanding of why customers buy the things they do, and what they do with those things once they’ve bought them. The psychology of purchase decision-making reveals that clients move through different phases when buying products or services, like first identifying a need and eventually choosing the one they like and are willing to exchange money for. This article discusses the six steps customers take when making buying decisions:

Recognise a need/want

Every purchase starts with a potential customer having a need in their lives. Some of us need to replace our damaged computers while some of us need marketing services to promote our businesses. Once a customer recognises a need, they start a journey of discovery to fulfil that need. It’s no coincidence that beverage retailers such as Coke and Pepsi place vending machines very close to outdoor exercise areas and that you’ll find food trucks parked outside nightclubs.

Search for information

Once their need has been identified, the client will start the process of finding out what could fulfil it. Customers might know someone who knows something about what they need, but the majority will turn to digital channels. The family with the leaking basic might Google plumbers in their area, and the mom needing an au pair for her daughter might ask her social media communities for recommendations.

Evaluate the product

Step three involves the customer taking a closer look at the product and its details. Someone looking to buy a house, who knows they’d need a bank loan to do so, might shop around for the best repayment terms. The teenager who wants a new skateboard might, after seeing an advertisement from his local extreme sports retailer, pop into the shop and try a skateboard out. Online purchasers will watch review videos and even reach out to the brand for more information.

Choose and purchase

Some clients will fall blindly in love with the first product they come across, and skip stage 3 altogether. Those who choose to carefully evaluate their potential purchase will eventually come to a decision, in terms of what will best fulfil their need, or satisfy their want, and how to go about getting it. The new lawyer looking for a snazzy ride might apply for a car loan, and the skateboarding teenager might ask his parents for money.

Using the product

The buying decision-making process doesn’t end with the purchase. In this modern age of brands wanting to nurture client relationships, which ensures long-term brand loyalty, half of the job is making sure that the customer remains happy with their decision. In this phase the lawyer drives his new car to see how it goes, and the teenage skater knocks out kick-flips with his friends at the skate park. If the customer is happy with their purchase, there’s a chance they might make another in the future.

Upgrade or abandon

That brings us to stage 6. Here the client is either going to stick with their decision and use the product, or be disappointed and possibly return it for a refund. The former will solidify their brand loyalty; the latter might lead to them abandoning the product and company offering it completely. A customer who is happy with their decision might even enjoy the product so much that they choose to upgrade their product using the same company.

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