Consumer behavior tells us what goes on in the mind of a consumer before buying a product or a service. It covers the factors that influence his buying decision and preferences in choosing a product or a service.
So consumer behavior is the study of buying decision process of a buyer that involves what to buy, why to buy, from where to buy and how to buy.
Consumer Buying Decision Process
The consumer buying decision process is composed of five basic stages through which an individual passes before buying a product or a service.
1. Recognition of need
The buying decision process starts with recognition of need or want. It can be triggered by internal stimuli like hunger and thrust or by external stimuli like advertising and word of mouth.
2. Information search
After identifying the need or want, the buyer starts gathering information about the product. Information at this level usually includes the different companies offering the product, the different models of the product and their prices and post sale services. All the information the buyer can easily get through print media, internet, television and word of mouth. This stage helps buyer have plenty of alternatives to fulfill his need or want.
3. Evaluation of alternatives
In this stage, the buyer starts evaluating different alternatives searched in the previous stage. Keeping in mind, the features and benefits he is looking for, the price he wants to pay and post sale services, he chooses one out of many similar products.
4. Purchase of product or service
In this stage, the buyer purchases the product. The buyer may consider different options to purchase the product like from a store through cash payment, from a website through online payment and onetime payment or in installments.
5. Post purchase evaluation
At this stage, the buyer starts using the product and realizes whether his need or want is satisfied or not the way he expected from the product. Accordingly, the buyer develops loyalty towards product and the company. A satisfied buyer more likely turns into a loyal customer and dissatisfied one may switch to some other company.