A CONSUMER DECISION-MAKING PROCESS IN PURCHSING A CAR Research suggests that customers go through five stages in making decision on any purchase (The Engel, Blackwell and Miniard, 1990). The economic buyer theory published by South-Western college in 1997 () explained that all customers have full information, make comparison, are rational, they have limited resources to satisfy their limitless needs, and they want to maximise satisfaction (page). A person who intends to purchase a car, go through a five decision-making stages.
These include; Problem recognition Information search Evaluation of alternatives Purchase Post-purchase behaviours In dealing with these processes, it is important to note that there are factors influencing individual decision-making process. The factors could be categorized into three; Individual factors Motivation Perception Learning Personality, self-concept, lifestyle Values, beliefs and attitudes Social factors Culture Reference group Opinion leaders Family Social class Purchase situation Reasons for purchase Time Physical surrounding
A consumer, influenced by the above factors goes through the first stage; Problem recognition: An individual realises that something is not as it should be. Perhaps, for example, an individual goes to work on a commercial bus or train late because of constant delays in travel time, decides he needs a car. Once the problem is realised it goes to the second stage. Information search: In this stage a consumer engages in both internal and external information search. The internal search involves gathering information in his mind about cars he prefers.
External search on the other hand involves finding information from friends, reviewing in customers reports, (for example, accelerator pedal faults on some Toyota brands reported by BBC on 28 January 2010), consulting different websites, and visiting several dealerships. Information could be as well gathered from brochures, catalogs and news coverage. Evaluation of alternatives: The car industry is a competitive market and gives consumers options to choose, ranging from brands, product features, fuel efficiency, balance, space and price, for example a car may have a low price and good fuel efficiency, but slow acceleration.
If the price is inexpensive and fuel efficient, the customer may select it over a car with better acceleration that cost more and use more fuel. Purchase: The above stage in the decision-making process determine what happens in this stage. This stage is when the consumer makes the purchase of the car. Post-purchase behaviours: This is where the consumer considers his decision for justification. The consumer then seeks new information to reinforce and judge whether he had the right price and quality for his money.
The consumer could avoid contradictory information or deliberately seek contrary information to refute. He could even revoke the decision by returning the car. Firms and organisations invented strategies to overcome cognitive dissonance through sending post-purchase letters, cards, advertisement, guarantees, warrantees, instruction booklets and refund policies. (Festinger, L. 1957) In conclusion, the study of these consumer decision-making stages will help firms and organizations to improve their marketing strategies.
REFERENCES Brassington and Pettitt, (2006), _Principles of marketing, 4th ed. _ FT Prentice Hall. Charles W. Lamb jr, Christo Boshoff et al. (1997), Consumer Decision-making process, South-western college publishing. Engel, J. F. , Blackwell, R. D. and Miniard, P. W. (1990), Consumer Behaviour, Dryden. Festinger, L. (1957), A Theory of Cognitive Dissonance, Stanford university press. Lars Perner (1999-2008), Consumer Behaviour, Publish by university of Southern California, Business school.
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