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Buying Decision Process: The Five Stage Model

Here we have used the five stage model of buying decision process to analyse the different stages a consumer may go through while buying a product . From this model we can clearly say that the entire buying process starts much before the actual purchase of good and continues even after that with the consequences reflected in their future buying behaviour . So regarding the buying decision of reverse osmosis water filter we have analysed the following stages

Problem Recognition
The buying process starts as soon as the buyer recognizes a need either due to internal or external stimulus. Our question on survey regarding the reason for buying RO water filter targets this aspect. From the survey we conducted we came across that most of the responses point to the fact that external stimulus like water conditions in the locality (57%) and recommendation by acquaintances (10%) rather than internal stimulus like advanced technology (20%) and peer purchase (5.%) play a major role in arousing the need for RO water purifier .

Advertisements in Media 3% 5% 20% 57% 10% 5% Everyone has it Recommendations by acquaintances Water conditions in locality others Better Technology

Almost 57% of the respondents consider Water Conditions in the locality as the major reasons for Opting RO water purifiers. The increasing awareness among the people about the detoriating water conditions in their locality has forced consumers to move towards water purifiers or bottled drinking water. For the remaining 43% of the respondents though water conditions was not the primary reason for opting for RO water purifier , they acknowledged it as secondary reason for opting for RO. Better Technology has been the second major reason consumers opted for RO. There seems to be a reasonable awareness among the consumers about the benefits of RO water purifiers when compared to other technologies. But still most of the consumers were not completely aware of the technology and had purchased RO as their water purifier solution since it is the newest in the market.

Recommendation from acquaintances was another major reason why consumers went for an RO. These recommenders are mostly current users of RO and mostly recommended the current RO brand they were using. Few respondents stated Advertisement in Media and Everyone has it as reasons for choosing a RO.

Information Search
1% 3% 4% 13% 51% 28% Advertisements Friends Relatives Stores Work Group Others (Personal Opinion)

Even though advertisements dont play a major role in the reasons for choosing RO over other Purifiers, it plays a major role in Consumer awareness about RO. From our survey we came

to know that about 51% of information about RO comes from advertisements.


The fact that friends and relatives play an important role in the buying process is further reinstated by the fact that for 28% of the respondents friends introduced them to RO and for 13% of the respondents, it was relatives. Stores, work group and other factors do not play a significant role in making customers aware about RO as only a total of 8% responded that they come across RO through these factors. This trend might be a result of the advertising strategy followed by major RO players who supply only through exclusive dealers and not through general stores and rely heavily on advertisements and word of mouth to boost sales and are indifferent to sales promos.

Major sources of Product Information


1% 12% 13% 20% 27% 6% Brochures 13% Internet Live Demonstrations News Paper & Magazine Ads Recommendations 8% Sales Persons TV & Radio Ads Others

Since, this is usually one time buying decision consumers do gather a lot of information.
From the survey we observed that majority of consumers relied on recommendations, television, radio advertisements and live demonstration for information about the RO water filter. Once decision has been made to buy a water purifier, recommendations play a major role in influencing buying decisions by serving as sources of product information. Recommendation scored 27% importance as the major source of information followed by live demonstration, 20%. When it comes to advertisements, visual ads tend to be more effective than print ads. Visual ads got 12% importance as the major source of information while only around 8% importance was attributed to print ads. Each information source plays a different role in influencing the decision making process Consumer receives most information from television advertisements and live demonstration whereas recommendation from friends and relatives help in evaluation. Also when it comes to product information, the internet also has an important role. Consumers use the internet for getting reviews about products & brands. Word of mouth plays a major role in these review websites. Brochures were the least effective getting only 6 % importance as a major source of product information.

Evaluation of Alternatives
Consumer processes competitive brand information and make a final decision on the basis of their expected weights of different attributes of the product.

27%

9% Availability of purchase point Brand

14%

45%

Ease in purchase Price Simplicity of use Strong Recommendations

2%

3%

The major factors that influence the buying behaviour of the consumer in case of a RO water purifier are its brand value and strong recommendations from other consumers. Majority of consumers prefer to buy a RO water purifier with a high brand value, because water purifiers are related to the health of the family. Eureka Forbes is the most preferred brand that people recognize in case of water purifiers. Kent RO is another major brand because of its aggressive advertising strategy and its attached image with the celebrity. Strong recommendation from relatives and colleagues is the second major attitude while evaluating different brands. Thus, word of mouth about the product plays a major role in consumer evaluation process. The price of the RO purifier plays only a minor role in the product evaluation process. Though RO purifiers from Makelife cost INR 9000 & ZeroB cost INR 12000, Kent with much higher price of around INR 15000 has the majority share in the market. Thus it is evident that only for a few consumers it made sense to go for the cheaper RO. Therefore, only when a consumer perceives two or more brands as equal, then price may play a role in buying decision. Ease in purchase, ease in availability of purchase point and simplicity of use of the water purifier also has little influence on the buying behaviour of the consumer. They do not have significant influence on the buying behaviour of the consumer as most of the companies provide free installation of water purifier directly at their homes.

Purchase Decision
In the evaluation stage, the consumer forms preferences among the competitive brands available to him. Purchase decision of consumers was not influenced by discount available for the product. Majority of consumers who came across discount believed that they would have purchased the product even without any discount. The major reason they prefer buying the water purifier is because of poor water conditions in the locality and associated risks of illness. Hence the consumer would prefer a standard product and is not affected by the discount provided by the company. Moreover a majority of consumers did not come across any discount offers. Likewise mode of purchase preferred by majority of consumers we have come across following observations. Mode of Purchase The majority of consumers used dealer as a medium of purchase for the RO water purifier. Consumers prefer this medium since they can see, touch, and test the product. Moreover, they get good service and a very small lag time in delivery. This provides a very good shopping experience to the consumers. Despite of being a much easier means of purchase, the online booking system is still not very popular in India. Moreover this medium lacks faith in proper and timely delivery. There is also a trend of home delivery in case of RO water purifier. The sales person closes the sales directly with the consumer and the product is directly delivered to the consumers home. This type of behaviour is closely observed in residential colonies where a lot of people make the purchase. Sales people target these areas by providing some sort of demonstration of the water purifier and then closing sale with some of the customers. Ease of installation

18%

26% outstanding

23% 33%

good average poor

For a significant percentage of respondents (poor & average - 41%) ease of installation was a major concern. This may be due to the reason that consumers cannot shift the purifier to a different location even within the house on their own and have to rely on the after sales service unit every time they want to shift. Therefore, the lack of portability is a concern.

Post Purchase Behaviour

Consumer level of satisfaction


0% 2% 32% 18% Highly dissatisfied Dissatisfied Neither 48% Satisfied Highly satisfied

In the survey, we found out that nearly 50% were quite satisfied and another 32% were highly satisfied with the RO purifiers. From the consumers point of view, this affirms that the performance of the product exceeds their different prior expectations and very much serves the purpose of their purchase. Since RO water purifiers are one time purchases, the high level of satisfaction indicates that consumers are very likely to spread good word of mouth about the company. This is reinforced by the fact that a large proportion of users acknowledged that they came across RO purifiers manly through friends and relatives. A major reason for the remaining 20 % of consumers being either dissatisfied or indifferent after the purchase of RO purifiers is the fairly slow nature of the purification process .This is particularly applicable to larger households (greater than 4 members) where the total requirement of treated water per day is substantially more than smaller households. The time it takes to purify 5 litres of water, typically, is around an hour. Added to this, the low efficiency (5 litres of untreated water on passing through the filter resulted in only 1.5- 2 litres of pure water) and the associated high wastage makes the RO purifiers less attractive for use in larger households where the demand is high and in places where the availability of water is less.

Consumer Loyalty:

4% 8% 27% Aquaguard Kent Makelife 61% Others

The water purifier market in India has a very high consumer loyalty. This is borne out by the fact that for a large proportion(80%) of the respondents, their current brand was the one which came to their mind when they thought of RO purifiers. This indicates that all the brands have managed to create a strong, tight connection to customers and are well positioned for long-term marketing success. It is evident that satisfaction with the product and service quality has contributed to this loyalty. The fact that an overwhelming 90% were willing to recommend their purifiers to the others reiterates the role of recommendations from friends and colleagues in making people aware of RO water purifiers and contributing to their buying decisions and the extremely high overall perception of quality which leads to strong customer commitment to the relationship Quality of after sales service:
0% 2% 15% 36% poor bad moderate good 47% outstanding

It is evident that after sales service remains the key consideration for a consumer to be satisfied with the RO purifier. To reduce membrane fouling and to maintain optimal performance, it is important to ensure that scheduled replacements of carbon pre-filters are followed. The membrane) should be replaced periodically depending on use. Thus to carry out a quality check of the purifier once every 6 months, most consumers prefer to go for an annual maintenance contract with the companies. Over 83% of the respondents rated the after-sales service as either good or outstanding, contended with the excellent service support that supplemented the product. The lower ratings by the remaining 17% can be attributed to the high out-of pocket costs required for regular maintenance. For the consumers, the major expectation from the purchase of the purifier units is the improvement in the quality of drinking water. From the responses, it is easy to gather that RO purifiers do not fail on that count, with only 3 % of the respondents indicating that the quality of the treated water continued to be bad or poor.