It is every marketer’s goal to get inside the head of a consumer. You want to figure out how the consumer makes decisions and how you can get them to make a decision to purchase your product or service. There are 5 steps in a consumer decision making process a need or a want is recognized, search process, comparison, product or service selection, and evaluation of decision.

Problem Recognition

Most decision making starts with some sort of problem. The consumer develops a need or a want that they want to be satisfied. The consumer feel like something is missing and needs to address it to get back to feeling normal. If you can determine when your target demographic develops these needs or wants, it would be an ideal time to advertise to them. For example, they ran out of toothpaste and now they need to go to the store and get more.

Search Process

Most of us are not experts on everything around us. In the searching phase we research for products or services that can satisfy our needs or wants. Search Engines have become our primary research tool for answers. It is an instant and easy way to find out what you are looking for.

Also don’t forget about actual human beings. Our friends and families all have had many different experiences and can offer us recommendations. In most cases recommendations from actual people instead of a search engines are preferred. You have more of a trust factor with people close to you then a computer program.

You also may have had past experiences that assist you in solving your problem. You may have had a life experience in the past that helps you make the correct purchase decision. You could also just know what decision to make just by picking up things over the years and knowing how to solve them.

In this stage you are also beginning your risk management. You might make a pro’s vs. con’s diagram to help make your decision. People often don’t want to regret making a decision so extra time being put into managing risk may be worth it. People also remember bad experiences over good ones, take that into account.

Evaluating Alternatives

Once the consumer has determined what will satisfy their want or need they will begin to begin to seek out the best deal. This may be based on price, quality, or other factors that are important for them. Customers read many reviews and compare prices, ultimately choosing the one that satisfies most of their parameters.

Selection Stage

After tallying up all the criteria for the decision the customers now decide on what they will purchase and where. They have already taking risk into account and are definite on what they want to purchase. They may have had prior experience with this exact decision or maybe they succumbed to advertising about this product or service and want to give it a try.

Evaluation of Decision

Once the purchase has been made, does it satisfy the need or want? Is it above or below your expectations? The goal for every marketer is not for a one-time customer but a repeating lifetime customer. One bad experience of buyer’s remorse and your brand perception could be tarnished forever. On the other hand, one superb experience can lead to a brand loyal customer who may even become a brand evangelist for you.