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What did we do before Google, Facebook, Twitter, Trip Advisor, You Tube and everything in between?
The ability to research has become quicker and easier than ever before. As consumers we are presented with not only an increase in information, but also the falling away of geographical barriers to purchase.
The new consumer is influenced less by what they are told and more by what they uncover. This post will look at the decision making process of the new consumer and how to use the internet and social media to connect from awareness to purchase and beyond.
Traditional Decision Making Process
Marketing theory has traditionally painted the consumer decision making process to move through 5 stages, with strategies to maximise the opportunity to attract and maintain the consumer through each stage. The process has looked something like this:
- Need recognition. When the consumer feels they have an unsatisfied need, this creates a motive to act.
- Identification of alternatives. Consumer research begins; this might include different categories to fulfil their needs as well as different brands or providers.
- Evaluation of alternatives. The consumer compares their options; they might seek out offers, opinions of friends, relatives and respected bodies.
- Purchase decision. With the decision made on what to buy, the consumer will now make a series of small decisions including where, when and how, until the actual purchase is made.
- Post-purchase behaviour. The consumer will either be satisfied or dissatisfied with their purchase.
Think back to the late 90’s when the humble DVD player launched. Your decision making process went something like this:
- Need Recognition: Saw an ad on TV or in the newspaper about DVD players and how the quality of DVD is far superior to that of Video. Thought about never having to rewind a video again, this motivated you to learn more.
- Identification of Alternatives: Looked at catalogues and at Harvey Norman and found out there were two brands you could choose from.
- Evaluation of Alternatives: Talked to friends who had bought a DVD player about what brand they got and what they thought, talked to a few salesman about the different brands, read an article in Choice magazine.
- Purchase Decision: After deciding to buy a Panasonic DVD Player, you reviewed the newspaper and catalogues and decided to go to Harvey Norman on Sunday and buy their advertised deal.
- Post-purchase behaviour: You watched your first DVD that you hired and felt satisfied that you just eject it and return it.
The Online Effect
Fast forward to the year 2010 and you hear some buzz about a new personal computer called an iPad. Let’s review the decision making process:
- Need Recognition: You saw Steve Jobs on the news talking about the iPad, your friend also sent you an email with a You Tube clip of a leaked iPad, your friends are debating on Facebook which store they will camp at for an iPad,
iPad is trending #1 on Twitter. The hype is getting to you and you can’t imagine not being able to have your photos, music and apps for business everywhere you go.
- Identification and Evaluation of Alternatives: You go on the Apple website and read about the different sizes available and that you can also choose to have Wi-Fi compatibility. You don’t even consider any other brand as you are an Apple devotee. You check out blogs in the US of those who got an iPad on pre release, read reviews on how much space you might need, you sign up to Optus and Telstra to find out what their data plans are. You sign up to Apple to be notified when they are releasing the iPad.
- Purchase Decision: You order your iPad online and it gets delivered to you on the day it launches. You get the 32GB with Wi-Fi.
- Post-purchase behaviour: You sit on the couch and update your status on Facebook to say how in love you are with your iPad, you Tweet that you can’t work out how to get your wireless printer working and post on an Apple Forum how your iPad has completed your world.
With the increase of information, we see the identification and evaluation of alternatives merging into one step; they are done concurrently as the consumer gathers information from multiple sources.
How to win the New Consumer Over
I love this illustration from Orbital Alliance: I look at it to draw ideas for marketing to the new consumer. I see this as the new consumer decision process; the online stratosphere has increased the information available to consumers. The inputs are greater than ever before and (literally) at their fingertips.
My tips for maximising your connection with the new consumer
- Increase Awareness
- Optimise to be seen in search results
- Use social media to create a brand name
- Use pay-per-click advertising to get in front of your consumer
- Advertise in popular newsletters of complementary businesses
- Maximise your Consideration
- Make your homepage work harder (you only have seconds to convince them to stay)
- Use a blog so your consumer can get to know you better
- Make your offers clear and easy to understand
- Use press releases to ensure there is hype about your product on multiple platforms
- Convert to Sales
- Offer service that your competitors don’t (or can’t)
- Reward regular purchases
- Add value (don’t just try to cut the price)
- Compel to share
- Asks for reviews and recommendations
- Use Social Media to thank major customers
The new consumer is just like you, they have changed a lot in the last 10-20 years. Don’t lose sight of how differently you make your decisions as a consumer and make sure you are adapting your business approach.
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Until next week, D is for Decision Making and also for … the coolest Alphabet Book that I just bought for my son’s birthday