Managing Product Life Cycle, The Buying Process

The buying process starts with a need or desire. Large companies ask consumers about their buying decision process. Companies do market survey and ask few questions from the customer for example:

 How do they get to know about the product?
 What made them decide to buy a product of a particular brand?
 How satisfied they are with the product performance?

A typical buying process consists of the following five stages:

It is not necessary that one-step should always come after the other step. A customer may skip one or two steps and can directly take the purchase decision.

Now let us discuss the above five buying process stages one by one.

i.Need Recognition: Any buying process starts with a need. Generally, a need arises either due to internal stimuli or due to external stimuli. Suppose, you want to cook food and vegetables are not there. There is a need of buying vegetables;this is an example of internal stimuli. An external stimulus shows the desire. If you are going through a garment, shop and you like a shirt that is an external stimuli or desire to buy that shirt. Marketers need to find out the factors that triggers the need.

ii. Information Search: Once the need is identified, the next step is to search the information about the desired product. The customer can get the information from the following sources :
  •  Friends, relatives, neighbors, acquaintances
  •  Media, advertising
  •  Experienced customers
You should make a strategy such that customer should become aware of the company's product, he/she should shortlist the product, and should be the strong contender to buy the product.

iii. Evaluation of Alternatives: After information searching, a customer evaluates the alternatives. Basically a customer evaluates the alternatives by checking:

The features and attributes of the product Whether product fulfills his/ her expectation
  •  Whether it provides some benefits
  • Interest in features can vary from one consumer to another.
iv. Purchase Decision: Evaluation gives the idea to the customer about the brand he/ she should go for. Purchase decision is affected by two factors: other's opinion and unanticipated situation. If one or more acquaintance of the customer has bad experience about the brand, customer's decision to buy that product can be negative. Unanticipated situations are the one, which can not be predicted e.g. some miss happening, or emergency to buy some other product, say for example,you are planning to buy an A.C., and fridge goes out of order than the priority may shift to buy a fridge.A customer's purchase decision can be further divided into five parts:Brand decision, vendor decision, quantity decision, timing decision, and payment mode decision. The above-mentioned decisions are taken by consumer at various stages of buying.

v. Post Purchase Behavior: It shows the customer's behavior towards the product after he/she has purchased it and may have consumed as well. A marketer must find out the satisfaction level of the customer, usage of the product and should take action to improve the product if the customer is not satisfied. In case of pouched milk if consumer feels that Mother Dairy milk has some typical flavor whereas Amul milk has natural milk flavor then Mother Dairy must know this problem to rectify it and stop its customers from switching over from their brand.

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