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In our modern age of accelerated consumerism it is vital for business success to understand the underlying motives of your customers’ thoughts, emotions and decisions when buying your or competitor products and services. In order to best reproduce a customer’s thought process before, during and after a purchase, questioning him/her about the experience as immediate as possible afterward is of utmost importance when the memory is fresh.


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We will attempt to give an overview in this article about the different parts of purchasing behaviour and how these fit into the buying process.

Forming Purchasing Decisions

Depending on the product that presents a need, several factors will play into the decision-making of said product. The pre-purchase stage is the most important one for first-time or one-time buyers in terms of its decision format.

Influencing factors:

There are tons of potential influencers for buying products online as well as offline. Factors such as brand familiarity, selection, quality, shipping costs, price, service, payment options or reviews are only a small fraction to be mentioned. Usually, a combination of these factors makes up a final purchasing decision, therefore in a purchasing behaviour survey, this question ought to be structured as a multiple choice question type.

Source information:

Which sources are used when making a certain product purchasing decision can be external or internal sources.

External sources can range from search engines, review pages, social media, referrals, blogs to ads and news pages.

Internal sources can be drawn on either if the purchase in question is a repeat purchase, i.e. the required product has been bought before, hence providing information and experience from past purchases. In this case the customer can search his/her memory regarding the past purchase(s) and decide to either buy from that business again if the experience(s) was/were satisfactory or can search for alternative suppliers using external sources.

The second internal source possible is either gut feeling about a specific product and/or business or some other emotional reaction to a specific product and/or business that would make a decision the only right one from a customer’s perception without the momentary need to acquire additional information.

Buying style:

Products come in all shapes, sizes and price ranges. The higher the price, the higher the investment for this product and usually the more consumer research is executed. The reason is that financial resources within households tend to be limited and need to be planned and distributed carefully.

Everyday products such as food or bathroom products are often bought habitually depending on the level of satisfaction with the products.

Another style that usually concerns products with low commitment and investment levels is the next best brand purchasing style. Here, a proper evaluation of product quality, price, experience or other factors is neglected due to a general indifference to a certain product variety. Whichever brand of product is encountered first will do when buying according to this style.

Some consumers are more experimental than others and enjoy testing different versions of a product that largely serves the same purpose. This buying style is called variety testing and includes multiple product evaluations and comparisons to confirm the best alternative out of an available selection.

The last buying style requires extensive information research and is usually deployed when buying high investment products or services that will really burn a hole into the consumer’s wallet, e.g. purchasing a new car, computer or house.

These product purchases are more difficult to reverse and thus can and will be researched and compared heavily before deriving a decision. Thanks to the internet and its endless information resources, consumers can quickly, conveniently and profoundly form decisions on how, when, what and where to purchase.

Purchasing services:

When making a purchasing decision, there are usually multiple services available that follow consumers through the buying process from researching options, completing the purchase to post-purchase reactions.

These services may include consultation, phone and chat support, contact forms, refund availability, review forms and feedback surveys.

Why is it so important to understand consumer purchasing behaviour?

Taking all the aforementioned aspects into consideration has become more and more important for business owners in a highly dynamic and competitive market environment. In order to get into consumers’ awareness sets and top-of-mind sets (consumer brand awareness), businesses need to be proactive before and after purchases to convert first-time customers into repeat loyal customers.

In this context, three consumer impact areas will steer buying decisions: personal impact describing the consumer’s own feelings and emotions about a purchase, social impact describing the consumer’s environmental feelings and emotions about a purchase as well as economic impact describing a consumer’s financial consequences from a purchase.

Bear these risk impacts in mind and you will have a solid basis for assessing consumers’ purchasing behaviour motives.

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