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4. Consumer Buying Process

4. Consumer Buying Process

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Services marketing – 4th Sem -
Services marketing – 4th Sem -

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Published by: MAHENDRA SHIVAJI DHENAK on May 27, 2010
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11/16/2012

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UNDERSTANDING BUYERSSix roles played during purchase of service
Initiator:
 person who has the specific need and proposes to buy the service
Influencer:
 person or group to whom the decision maker refers or those whoadvise
Gatekeeper:
 person or organisation or promo material that acts a filter whilemaking a decision
Decider:
 person making the buying decision, irrespective of whether he/she buysthemselves
Buyer:
 person who actually makes the purchase of services
User:
 person who actually consumes the product / service
Actual user:
Actual user is the person who actually uses the product.These people are typically “shopfloor” individuals. They could be foremen or workmen in a factory, lab technicians and chemists in a chemical firm, and programmers in a software firm. These people often lay down the productspecifications.
Influencer:
Influencer is a person or persons who may or may not be a part of customer organization, but whose opinion is valued significantly by thecustomer. Within the organization, the actual user plays the Influencer role.For example in a construction project, the architect plays an influencing rolein determining the grade of cement to be sought.
Decider:
Decider is the person who actually takes the decision to buy. Thedecider will invariably consider both the technical and economic factors indecision-making. Thus he will consider commercial terms like price, paymentoptions, delivery schedules etc.
Buyer
: Buyer is the person who actually buys on the behalf of theorganization. He is a part of the purchase or materials department. For buyers,the most critical factor is on-time delivery as he does not want to spendsleepless nights on uncertain deliveries.
Gatekeeper:
This is often a critical role played by an individual. The purpose of a gatekeeper is to facilitate the flow of information in theorganization.THE BUYING PROCESS
Five stages in the buying process:
 
 Need Recognition
Information Search
Evaluation of Alternatives
Purchase Decision
Post-purchase behavior 
The Stages of the Buying Decision Process
In addition to examining buying roles and behavior, smart companies research the buying decision process involved in their product category. They ask consumers whenthey first became acquainted with the product category and brands, what their brand beliefs are, how involved they are with the product, how they make their brandchoices, and how satisfied they are after purchase.Figure 5.2 shows a five-stage model of the typical buying process. Starting with problemrecognition, the consumer passes through the stages of information search, evaluationof alternatives, purchase decision, and postpurchase behavior. As this modeldemonstrates, the consumer buying process starts long before the actual purchase and hasconsequences long afterward.Although the model implies that consumers pass sequentially through all five stages in buying a product, consumers sometimes skip or reverse some stages. However, we usethis model because it captures the full range of considerations that arise when a consumer faces a highly involving new purchase.
Stage 1: Problem Recognition
The buying process starts when the buyer recognizes a problem or need. This needcan be triggered by internal stimuli (such as feeling hunger or thirst) or external stimuli(such as seeing an ad) that then becomes a drive. By gathering information from anumber of consumers, marketers can identify the most frequent stimuli that spark interest in a product category. They can then develop marketing strategies that trigger consumer interest and lead to the second stage in the buying process.
Stage 2: Information Search
An aroused consumer who recognizes a problem will be inclined to search for moreinformation. We can distinguish between two levels of arousal. At the milder searchstate of 
heightened attention,
a person simply becomes more receptive to informationabout a product. At the
active information search
level, a person surfs the Internet, talkswith friends, and visits stores to learn more about the product. Consumer informationsources include personal sources (family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances), commercialsources (advertising, Web sites, salespersons, dealers, packaging, displays), public sources (mass media, consumer-rating organizations), and experiential sources(handling, examining, using the product). The consumer usually receives the mostinformation from commercial (marketer-dominated) sources, although the mostinfluential information comes from personal sources.
 
Through gathering information, the consumer learns more and more aboutcompeting brands. The first box in Figure 5.3 shows the
total set 
of brands available tothe consumer. The individual consumer will come to know only a subset of these brands (
awareness set 
). Some of these brands will meet initial buying criteria(
consideration set 
). As the person gathers more information, only a few brands will remain asstrong contenders (
choice set 
). The person makes a final choice from this set
Stage 3: Evaluation of Alternatives
Once the consumer has conducted an information search, how does he or she processcompetitive brand information and make a final judgment? There are several evaluation processes; the most current models view the process as being cognitively oriented,meaning that consumers form judgments largely on a conscious and rational basis.Some basic concepts underlie consumer evaluation processes. As noted earlier,the consumer is trying to satisfy a
need.
In seeking certain
benefits
from the productsolution, the consumer sees each product as a
bundle of attributes
with varying abilitiesof delivering the benefits to satisfy this need. However, the attributes of interest to buyersvary by product. For example, the attributes sought in a camera might be picturesharpness, camera size, and price. In addition, consumers vary as to which productattributes they see as most relevant and the importance they attach to each attribute.Knowing that consumers pay the most attention to attributes that deliver the benefitsthey seek, many successful marketers segment their markets according to the attributesthat are salient to different consumer groups.In the course of evaluating alternatives, the consumer develops a set of 
brand beliefs
about where each brand stands on each attribute. The set of beliefs about a particular  brand, which make up the
brand image,
will vary with the consumer’s experiences asfiltered by the effects of selective perception, selective distortion, and selective retention.Ultimately, consumers develop attitudes toward various brand alternativesthrough an attribute evaluation procedure.28 Suppose, for example, that Linda Brownhas narrowed her choice set to four computers (A, B, C, D) on the basis of four attributes:memory capacity, graphics capability, size and weight, and price. If one computer dominated the others on all of the criteria, we could predict that Linda would chooseit. But her choice set consists of brands that vary in their appeal. She sees A as havingthe best memory capacity, B as having the best graphics capability, C as having the bestsize and weight, and D as having the best price.Like most buyers, Linda is considering several attributes in her purchase decision,and she gives each a particular weight. She has assigned 40 percent of the importanceto the computer’s memory capacity, 30 percent to its graphics capability, 20 percent to

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