Do you know what your consumers are thinking when they decide to buy or not to buy a particular offering?

Your potential consumers don’t buy your offerings soon as they see it. Did you know there is an acquisition process that a consumer goes through prior to purchasing a product or service? To understand the process we need to consider the end-user – basically the perspective of your consumer.


There are 6 stages a consumer will traditionally go through before making a purchase. This is important to remember that just doing one type of marketing and then expecting a boatload of sales is unrealistic, this is more even more applicable in the retail sector whether that be online or in a shop we need to understand the minds of a consumer during these 6 stages! 


The 6 stages are below:


  • Motive development 
  • Information gathering 
  • Proposition evaluation 
  • Proposition selection 
  • Acquisition/purchase 
  • Re-evaluation 


So we’ll briefly go through each of the stages to understand what they mean and give an understanding from a marketing point how as a business you can use these 6 stages to influence the buying habits of your consumers, get repeat business and gain new consumers. 


Motive development 

This process begins when a consumer decides they wish to purchase an offering. This is when a consumer realises they need to solve a problem. At this stage, your marketing should be focused on solving problems your consumers may be facing. Typically everyone just wants to sell their products or services, but instead, start your marketing by solving problems that your consumers may be facing. The consumer must be aware that this problem exists. 


So let’s take the example that this particular consumer and his/her partner want to go on holiday. This might be a routine summer holiday for the couple, or could be after a stressful period in their work or personal lives and they need a break. It could be a special occasion like a celebration. This couple realising they want to go on holiday is the start of the acquisition process and the motive will influence the process. So at this stage as a business highlighting why it might be a good idea to take some time off for one of these reasons is helping them to solve a problem. 


Information gathering 

The next stage, as the heading suggests it’s quite self-explanatory. This couple will begin to brainstorm with each other, read reviews, articles, blogs, ask friends, look in a travel magazine or book. For example, popular sites would be Expedia or Consumers at this stage are passively looking to solve their problems. So in this instance, having great reviews on your site, advertising on sites and publications which are travel-related, giving incentives to your current consumers to recommend a friend will be handy at this stage. Showing adverts that remind them to search on your site or contact or visit etc throughout their daily schedules to passively prompt will encourage them to visit your business more than others. 


Consumers will look internally and externally for this information, for example, an internal example could be a previous place they visited before. An external example could be looking at travel sites to find a solution to their problems. Either way, you want to increase awareness by building on their knowledge that’s available.


Proposition evaluation 

Once the consumer has all the information necessary to make a decision, they can tend to evaluate alternative propositions. Think of this as the consideration stage, in which they make rational (based on cost) or irrational (based on desire) decisions. This decision for our couple for instance could be a budget set for the holiday or a European city break – this would involve the cities they would consider visiting. These cities could be Rome, Barcelona, and Paris for example. This would be the consumers evoked set – which is the consumer evaluating the product, brand, or service they want that will solve their particular problem. 


Proposition selection 

Generally, the offering picked by the consumer is the one that closely matches their needs and solves their problems. However sometimes as is often found nowadays is a consumer may walk into the shop to view the product or service and then choose to go buy it elsewhere or online later. This is different from proposition evaluation because when the consumer comes to purchasing what they originally wanted may not be available. For example, 2 cinema ticket for a movie you intended to watch but the movie has no seats available so you end up going for another movie. At this stage, the consumer needs to re-evaluate what they buy. 


So if we go the example of a consumer buying their holiday, they might choose to buy flights from one company, hotels from another and excursions from somewhere else. In this instance sometimes the hotel they want may not be available. As a company depending on your service you could offer a bundle deal offering everything taking the hassle out of having to find all of the separate things. Or if you only provide say hotel accommodations then to those who have booked flights to target them through marketing campaigns to book via your site, because sometimes people may purchase a flight in advance and think about the accommodation at a later date. 



 Once everything has been selected the next stage is the purchase of the offerings. So for instance, if it’s our couple who book a routine holiday at the same destination it’s considered a routine purchase and we don’t get too involved in the decision-making process unless new circumstances have arisen. As a business to convince the couple in this example would be more difficult if for them it’s the same place every year through the same companies. Unless for instance that particular accommodation closes down or is under renovation. 


However, if it is purchased on an infrequent basis than companies can get involved in the decision-making process. With infrequent purchases, companies can sweeten the deal by offering a bolt on to the package to get a consumer to consider your business as a routine place to purchase more frequent holidays. Such as cancellation policies, travel insurance, provide a service to take care of all the flights and bookings. 



Referring back to the example earlier about the coupe purchasing a routine holiday, there is a clause within this. As humans, we are always motivated to re-evaluate our beliefs, attitudes, opinions or values if the position that the consumer held at the first time of the purchase starts to differ to their current position now whether that be through an intervening event, circumstances or action. 


This process can be uncomfortable for humans for example going to a fancy restaurant and the bill was too high then you normally would feel comfortable with and can cause issues such as anxiety. Therefore we tend to re-define our beliefs, attitudes, opinions, values etc to reduce that feeling of guilt, anxiety etc. 


Therefore it’s important to remember that this can arise in situations when the event or purchase doesn’t meet the consumers’ expectations. 


On the flip side if the consumer is happy with the purchase then are likely to repurchase again and this is when you get customer loyalty. 



It’s important to remember that marketing your product or service is important for any consumer to consider purchasing from you. 


But just marketing once in one method or style won’t really draw or bring many customers to your business. You need to remember all the different stages above and to market to your consumers at all these different stages of purchasing. 


For example, if you just did Facebook Ads to promote your travel business then your ads should differ and target your consumer with different habits taking into consideration the different stages the consumers will be at. 

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