The Stages of the Buying Decision Process

In addition to examining buying roles and behavior, smart companies research the buying decision process involved in their product category. They ask consumers when they first became acquainted with the product category and brands, what their brand beliefs are, how involved they are with the product, how they make their brand choices, and how satisfied they are after purchase.

Figure 3-2 shows a five-stage model of the typical buying process. Starting with problem recognition, the consumer passes through the stages of information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, and postpurchase behavior. As this model demonstrates, the consumer buying process starts long before the actual purchase and has consequences long afterward.25 Although the model implies that consumers pass sequentially through all five stages in buying a product, consumers sometimes skip or reverse some stages. However, we use this model because it captures the full range of considerations that arise when a consumer faces a highly involving new purchase.26

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