More than anyone else, consumers are directly responsible for sales and, consequently, the profits of all companies. Their motivation, as well as the actions that result from them, determine the economic viability of a given business. With this in mind, managers know that it's important to know consumers and their decision making process the best they can, so that their marketing strategies achieve the desired levels of success.
The customer decision making process begins when the customer realizes there is a problem to be solved or a need to be satisfied. The problem actually refers to a withdrawal state – the lack of something or discomfort. At this stage, the client understands that he must purchase something in order to return to an initial state of comfort.
After recognizing this need, the customer then starts to search for how to be satisfied – that is, what are the existing options to solve the problem. Such a search, in most cases, does not include all brands available on the market, but only a group of them, and the information can come from different sources.
With the information on the consumer's side, they must select one of the different alternatives available. A common evaluation method is the “compensatory model,” by which the customer ponders the product's features and analyzes their strengths and weaknesses, until a decision is made. Considering this, one can realize that a brand’s marketing and exposure are absolutely essential.
Then comes the purchase step, one that is divided into three phases. The first is when the client makes his choice between the aforementioned alternatives. The second is the confirmation of the intention to purchase. The last phase is the purchase itself, where the client pays and then receives the product or service.
The experience customers have with the purchase and use of the product will surely impact their future decisions. If the experience is negative, they will be dissatisfied and may even make complaints, demand the product is exchanged, or go for a refund.
On the other hand, if they are satisfied with the experience, there is a good chance that they will get more products from the same company in the future, and will likely recommend the company to their contacts.
Even though we're in an age where technology like big data and machine learning impact consumer behavior, it's essential to take the decision making process seriously and study it as much as possible. After all, there is no business without customers, and understanding their habits, behaviors and decisions can surely be the key to a successful company.