The five stages of the consumer purchase decision process are; the recognition of a problem/need, the search for information, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, and post purchase behaviour. The effect of technology and digital platforms can be seen at each stage throughout this process.
1. Problem/Need recognition
As mobile, digital and social media platforms are easily accessed by anyone with internet access, consumers are exposed to content published by both businesses and other consumers. The internet alone has enabled the Long-Tail Theory, meaning consumers can find niche products or services that fit their needs exactly, and also become aware to the vast range of offers on the internet. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Facebook and Instagram are being utilised by organisations in order to promote and sell their products.
Social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram allow for consumers to see what their friends or peers have purchased, which can influence the consumer to want to purchase the product for themselves. “Facebook Offers” has enabled the ability for businesses or consumers to create advertisements for promotions that can be claimed through social media.
Furthermore, as offers and advertisements are tailored to their feeds based on search history and the pages or posts that they have “liked”, consumers are being exposed to more and more offers. Due to being exposed to these offers, consumers identify needs or problems that they did not previously know existed.
For example, while browsing through Facebook, an advertisement for a line of clothing that you searched up months ago will appear on your feed, which will reinstate the need for new clothing.
2. Information Search
After identifying a problem or need, consumers require further information on the product or service, and conduct an information search. The information search is made easier and quicker for the consumer on digital platforms, as they no longer require the advice from retailers, due to all the information being accessible in different web pages.
Often, consumers refrain from making a purchase due to not knowing enough about the product and its features, however, with the use of social media platforms, potential buyers can see the reviews from previous buyers before making the purchase. As said in a previous post, consumers tend to trust the information and reviews provided by other consumers rather than the seller themselves.
3. Evaluation of Alternatives
The ability to access several webpages extinguishes the need to physically compare different products. The internet allows the consumer to compare products and services online, without leaving their chairs. As previously mentioned, the reviews and comments left by other users also assist buyers in evaluating their decision.
Group buying and peer-to-peer referrals allow for customers to see that their peers have previously purchased a certain product or service, and therefore decrease the doubt that they would have had.
For example, websites such as Trivago.com will allow for buyers to evaluate alternatives all on the same webpage, and select the best priced accommodation which best suits their needs.
4. Purchase Decision
Some consumers may find difficulty in finding the time throughout their week to physically go in store to purchase what they want. For example, a 9am-5pm worker may find difficulty throughout the week as most stores close at 5pm.
Digital platforms have decreased the need for consumers to physically go in store to make their purchases, therefore creating more convenience. As digital platforms evolve, these platforms enable customers to make the purchase on the spot, using several different platforms. Most retailers have recognised that consumers are becoming more reliant on technology, and have created mobile-compatible websites or apps, meaning that as long as consumers have internet access and a method of payment, shopping can be done at any point throughout the day.
For example, Coles has released an app where you can scan bar-codes of products to add them to your cart, browse for groceries online, and have them delivered right to your home address.
5. Post-purchase Behaviour
Post-purchase behaviour using digital platforms are easily tracked due to the use of comments and reviews. Most digital platforms allow for the buyer to make a comment or leave a starred review about the product. A consumer which is satisfied with the product may leave a positive review, which can aid future consumers in quickening their purchase decision. Buyers which are dissatisfied with the product may leave a negative review, which provides the business with feedback about their product.
As digital platforms evolve, convenience and accessibility of products and services increase, enabling consumers to make quicker and more informed decisions in regards to their purchases. Technology and digital platforms are increasing the ability for consumers to purchase what they want and when they want.