What is Consumer Decision Process and what are Various stages in Consumer Decision Process ?


What is Consumer Decision Process and what are Various stages in Consumer Decision Process ?


Consumer’s buying process is becoming a lot more complex and the credit goes to huge amount of options available.

The consumer decision process is a sequence of activities and step in which customer makes the decision which eventually leads to purchase of product.


Many products are bought without series consideration like Soaps and other essentials but when it comes to luxury item which involves large amount of money like a Car, consumer thinks carefully before taking purchase decision.


Various stages in Consumer Decision Process are:

Stage of Problem Recognition –

1.     As a consumer I recognized that there is a huge discrepancy of what is my current state of satisfaction and what it will be after the purchase of car.

2.     As a purchaser, I become aware of my needs which is a feeling of deprivation. Marketers can help in making consumers aware about particular needs through communication or the social environment and peer group which can lead to awareness about needs.

a.     Needs can be self-aroused, for example: hunger, thirst are basic ones while the needs which grows because of social group, belongingness to certain class of society increases the need of certain products and services associated and used by that particular group.

b.     So when I am buying a car, it can be because of necessity  or because of the social environment wherein everyone owns a car.

c.      Also mere existence of a need doesn’t lead to purchase decision as the needs need to be substantiated and supported by a goal directed behavior which is called motive.

d.     Motive pushes buyer to search for information and make efforts to gain the information.




Stage of Information Search

1.     After the need arousal, I will focus on collecting information about the Car which I want to purchase, from various sources such as Internet, Car Showrooms, Car Brand Websites in order to process and decision making.

a.     On basis of the urgency and urge or need there will be two states :

i.Heightened Attention – I will become more receptive to advertisements related to cars. Every where I will go, I will observe the cards around, in the advertisements on Internet / Television. Even the discussions happening about cars will interest me as I will be subconsciously focusing on it. Gradually I will have collected large amount of information through the passive search being done by subconscious mind.

                                              ii.     If the need is more intense and urgent then I will be search gather information actively from the surrounding and relevant channels like Showrooms, Car Brand websites. I will learn about various brands available, key attributes like Safety, Horsepower, Torque, Max Speed, Mileage, Warranty which will eventually help me in better decision making. The search for information will be straightforward and observable.

                                            iii.     Primary source for information would be internal source where I will search for product information in my memory as there can be some past experience associated. If there is no such data then I will opt for external sources which can be categorized as:

1.     Personal Sources which includes Peer group like Friends, Colleagues, Family members

2.     Commercial Sources for examples Salesmen of particular brands, dealers in which we are interested.

3.     Public Sources such as Trade Fairs, Trade association websites and catalogues like CII, FICCI, Yellow Pages

4.     Experiential Sources – going for test drives, using trial packages offered by products.

b.     During the process if I get distracted because of bad feedbacks / concerns of existing customers the buying decision may get changed.


Stage of Alternative Evaluation -

After deciding the item I have to purchase, I will evaluate different alternatives available. This will include mental and emotional trial of various alternatives of products.

On basis of the information collected, assigning the value weighting to different products / options, the conclusions will be derived which will satisfy my needs.

It will be called cognitive evaluative when I will use objective choice criteria. When I will use emotional reasons for evaluation, it will be called affective evaluation.


Stage of Purchase Decision

After gaining the information and comparing different alternative options,  will make the purchase decision which can be either:

1.     No purchase – When consumption problem is not solved

2.     Purchase it later – Less motivation or situations such as personal or economic which will be solved in near future

3.     Purchase it now – When positive attitudes are formed towards the decided alternative.

More important considerations are:

1.     Attitude of close ones – Their intensity of negative attitude and my motivation to comply with those.

2.     Situational factors such as income, cost of product.

3.     Unexpected event such as accident, financial losses, change of priority.


This  stage will lead to purchase of Car if everything goes well. Repeat purchase may occur if I am satisfied with the performance of the car, services by the brand.


Stage of Post Purchase Behavior

If the car meets my expectations then I will be satisfied. If expectations are exceeded then I will be delighted and if falls short then I will be dissatisfied.



When I am dissatisfied, I will recognize the problem and again search for information. This time, I wont consider the rejected brand.


After getting satisfied, I might repeat the purchase.