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What Is the Buying Process in Marketing? - Stages & Overview

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  • 0:01 Buying Process Defined
  • 0:23 The Buying Process
  • 3:04 Application to Marketing
  • 5:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
You need to understand the consumer buying process to effectively market a product. In this lesson, you will learn about the process and its stages. A short quiz will follow.

Buying Process Defined

A buying process is the series of steps that a consumer will take to make a purchasing decision. A standard model of consumer purchase decision-making includes recognition of needs and wants, information search, evaluation of choices, purchase, and post-purchase evaluation.

The Buying Process

Let's take a closer look at the process by examining each step in some detail:

Step one: Recognition of needs and wants

You can't make a purchase decision unless you actually know what you want or need. A need is an essential product or characteristic of a product that you must obtain. For example, you need water to survive. A want, on the other hand, is some product or product characteristic that you desire but is not essential. For example, while you may want to quench your thirst with soda, you don't need it - water will suffice.

Needs often arise because of problems, such as breaking the cell phone you use for business. Wants may arise as part of your need for a product, or because you have been influenced to want a product because of some outside influence, such as advertising or observing someone enjoying it. For example, you may need a new cell phone, but after watching countless colleagues use their smart phones, you really want to upgrade to a smart phone.

Step two: Information search

After you determine your needs and wants, you will start to search and gather information about potential product choices that may meet them. Sources of information may come from print, radio, television, and Internet advertising. You may also do independent product research on the Internet, looking at product review sites and consumer reviews on retail sites, such as Amazon. Finally, you may seek the opinions of friends, family, and colleagues.

Step three: Evaluation of choices

If you performed your research correctly, you should have some options from which to choose. You use your needs and wants as criteria in evaluating and comparing each product against each other. You may find trade-offs, such as higher prices for products that include more of your wants. In the end, you will rank your choices and pick the product that best matches your needs and wants based upon the budget available to you for the purchase.

Step four: Purchase

At this point, you will purchase the product. Your purchasing decision may be influenced by the manner in which you can purchase and receive the product. For example, you may purchase a product through a particular store because the product can be financed, is available immediately, or can be delivered quickly.

Step five: Post-purchase evaluation

After you have made your purchase and have had some time with the product, you will evaluate your decision. This evaluation may be conscious or unconscious. Your evaluation will play a large role in your loyalty to the product and the company that produced it.

Application to Marketing

A primary objective of marketing is to design and present products to potential customers that match their needs and wants. A marketer will attempt to influence each stage of the consumer buying process. Let's take a look at how:

Stage one: Needs and wants

You can influence needs and wants in a couple of different ways. First, you can engage in marketing research to discover current and unmet needs and wants. Second, after identifying needs, you can develop products in a manner that meets the majority of your target market's needs and wants. Third, if you want to be bold, you can attempt to create a new need or want. For example, not too long ago, cell phones did not exist and started out being only a 'want.' Now, cell phones have become a 'need' for most people - or at least people have been convinced that they are a need with some help from marketing.

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