Consumer Buying Process | High Involvement Purchase and Low Involvement Purchase | Consumer Purchasing Process / Stages

Consumer Buying Process           

Consumer buying process may be little different according to time and situation because people have to decide buying every day. Some buying decisions become complicated with high involvement and other with low involvement / simple. So, buying decisions are divided into two categories. They are (1) High involvement (2) Low involvement.

1. High Involvement Purchase

The purchase that takes more time and effort is called high involvement purchase. The goods to be purchased in this way are of special brand. They are more risky than others and have more prices. Information as well as knowledge about such goods is needed. So, it takes long time to purchase such goods. Car, other vehicles, land, house, machines etc. are included in high involvement purchase category. These goods serve for long time and increase social dignity. Such decision is taken occasionally.

2. Low Involvement Purchase

The purchase that takes comparatively short time and little effort is called low involvement purchase. Such purchase becomes behavior oriented. This purchase becomes of several brands and less risky. This has less price and takes little time. For instance, purchase of soap, shoes, clothes, toothpaste, matches etc. are included in this category. Such goods are of the nature of daily need and are short lasting.

The consumer adopts certain process with care in buying goods. While taking decision to purchase any such goods, the consumers go through five stages as shown in the following figure. They are need recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, post purchase behavior.

Consumers' purchase decision process

The above figure shows whatever goods the purchasers purchase and whatever times pass by five stages as shown in the figure. But in regular purchase, they may jump or miss any of the stages. For example, a customer recognizes his / her necessity to purchase regular brand of tea and decides to buy. He does not need seek information and analyze or evaluate alternatives. But the above figure shows the stages to be adopted for high involvement purchase.

1. Need recognition

Purchasing process starts from need recognition. In order to recognize consumers’ need, their internal and external sources of creating needs should be recognized. Hunger, thirst, sex, homes etc. are internal sources and personal influence, advertisement, exhibition etc. are external sources. At this stage of purchasing process, by considering these sources, a marketing manager should study and analyze them to find out their needs and problems. Not any person becomes ready to buy any goods or services without realizing need. So, purchasing process starts from recognition of unfulfilled need and problem. If a person feels hungry, she/he needs food. If toothpaste is finished, she/he needs to buy toothpaste. If a neighbor buys a quality television, we feel need to buy quality television. If some goods are advertised on television, we like to buy them being influenced by the advertisement. A consumer realizes need in many ways before buying any goods. So, this is called first stage of purchasing process.

2. Information searching

The second stage of purchasing process is searching for information. After the recognition of needs, the consumers try to find goods for satisfying such needs. They may or may not search information about such goods. If the consumers have unavoidable need and intense desire for any goods, they buy them promptly. If it is not so, they search information about the goods they want. While searching information, they may decide to buy by watching advertisement, looking goods being used by neighbors, friend etc. They may get information from friends through telephone, fax and e-mail, Internet or through other information sources. Consumers can get information about goods from different sources.

  • Personal sources: Personal source is important as well as confidential information. Such source of information about goods or services becomes very impressive to the consumers. This includes family, friends, neighbors, acquaintance etc.
  • Commercial source: The other important source to get information about goods or service is commercial source. Such source also provides ample information about goods and services. Some consumers get much influenced by commercial source. This includes advertising, sales people, dealers, packaging, display etc.
  • Public sources: Public sources are the other important sources to get information about goods and services. This includes mass media, consumer rating organizations etc. They also become confidential to provide information.
  • Experimental sources: Experimental source is also an important source of information about goods and services. This includes handling, examining, using etc. Such information becomes decisive and confidential.

3. Evaluation of alternatives

Evaluation of alternatives is the third stage of buying process. Various points of information collected from different sources are used in evaluating different alternatives and their attractiveness. While evaluating goods and services, different consumers use different bases. Generally, the consumers evaluate the alternatives on the basis of attributes of product, degree of importance, belief in brand, satisfaction etc. to choose correctly.
  • Product attribute: Products are of different attributes. For example, quality, simplicity in use, size, price, service, warranty, packaging, labeling etc. Consumers become eager to know the attributes of product at this stage of evaluation and make these attributes the base of selection.
  • Degree of importance: Products have different attributes. Generally, the consumers do not concern with all attributes. They become interested only in some important attributes. They evaluate the important attributes of the goods which they want to buy. So, they evaluate the products on the basis of the degree of importance.
  • Brand belief: Consumers have belief in attribute of certain brand of goods. They set belief in certain brand being influenced by own experience, suggestions, family neighbor and friends etc. Such belief may or may not be the actual features of the products.
  • Satisfaction: Total satisfaction becomes different according to the attributes of any products. This means that satisfaction depends on the attribute of the goods. So, the consumers evaluate the goods on the basis of the degree of satisfaction and select more satisfactory goods while selecting alternatives.

All the consumers do not base their evaluation on the same thing. They evaluate alternatives by focusing their attention on their satisfaction and priority. Consumers’ income level, experience, thought, perception, information abundance, information analyzing ability etc. influence the evaluation of alternatives.

4. Purchase decision

After the alternatives have been evaluated, consumers take decision to purchase products and services. While taking purchasing decision, the consumers select certain brand of goods and distribution channel. They decide to buy the best brand. But their decision is influenced by others’ attitude and situational factors.
  • Others’ attitude: After evaluating alternatives, the consumers like to buy certain products and product line. But their want / liking is affected by others’ attitude. Suppose a house wife made final decision to buy a costly and big refrigerator, but her husband suggested her to buy cheap and small one. Hence her possibility to buy costly and big refrigerator diminishes.
  • Situational factors: Even if costumers have decided to buy certain goods of certain quality and certain brand, situational factors affect them whether to buy or not. For example, they are income level, price, expected benefit, availability, dealer’s condition etc. If unexpected change takes place in such things, it also affects the purchasing decision.

5. Post purchase behavior

After taking decision, the consumers purchase goods. They may or may not be satisfied with the goods while using them. If the goods give satisfaction as expected, they become satisfied with and if more satisfied than expected, they become more satisfied with the goods. But, if the goods do not give satisfaction as expected, they become unsatisfied. If the customers are satisfied with the goods, they buy the same brand and quality regularly, otherwise they form negative attitude towards such goods and start searching other brands. So, the marketing manager should study and analyze the consumers’ behavior closely after the goods and services have been sold to them.

After buying any brand of goods, the consumers evaluate the quality, utility and benefit of the goods and take decision whether to buy the same regularly, stop buying temporarily or permanently.

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