Stage 4 Purchase Decision

In the evaluation stage, the consumer forms preferences among the brands in the choice set and may also form an intention to buy the most preferred brand. However, two factors can intervene between the purchase intention and the purchase decision.31

The first factor is the attitudes of others. The extent to which another person's attitude reduces one's preferred alternative depends on two things: (1) the intensity of the other person's negative attitude toward the consumer's preferred alternative, and (2) the consumer's motivation to comply with the other person's wishes.32 The influence of others becomes even more complex when several people close to the buyer hold contradictory opinions and the buyer would like to please them all.

The second factor is unanticipated situational factors that may erupt to change the purchase intention. A consumer could lose his job, some other purchase might become more urgent, or a store salesperson may turn him or her off, which is why preferences and even purchase intentions are not completely reliable predictors of purchase behavior.

Just as important, a consumer's decision to modify, postpone, or avoid a purchase decision is heavily influenced by perceived risk.33 The amount of perceived risk varies with the amount of money at stake, the amount of attribute uncertainty, and the amount of consumer self-confidence. Consumers develop routines for reducing risk, such as decision avoidance, information gathering from friends, and preference for national brand names and warranties. Smart marketers study the factors that provoke a feeling of risk in consumers and then provide information and support to reduce the perceived risk.

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