[Systematical Aspects]


  Consumers go through a complicated mental process when they make a decision about even the simplest purchase. In addition, consumers learn from advertising by acquiring knowledge about the products that are available to them and figuring out which products can satisfy their needs.
Due to the fact that advertising can influence a consumer's buying decision, a number of studies have tried to describe what happens in the interaction between a consumer and a product purchase and what the impact of the advertising message is during the process.

The following diagram will show a model of the consumer's buying decision process, considering the role of advertising in each stage. In viewing the diagram, it should be noted that this model is, more or less, dependent upon the previous advertising effectiveness studies, and consumers may skip or reverse some stages of this model in more routine purchases. Nonetheless, the model tries to include all possible considerations in a particular purchasing situation for a new and high-involvement product.

If you want to know more about how advertising effectiveness research has developed in the academic field of advertising, please also visit "Academic Approaches (to the subject of how advertising works)."

[Image Map of Consumer Decision-Making Process]

[Previous Influences]
As a precondition of the motivation stage, certain factors should influence the consumers' attitudes, beliefs, or preferences toward a product. Consumers can be motivated by their internal influential factors, such as past experience, personality, and physiological desires.
On the other hand, external factors, such as consumers' social, family, or cultural backgrounds, can also have an impact on consumers' motivation. In this stage, advertising can be one of the cultural influences that lead consumers to the next stage.
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The actual purchasing process begins with motivation. Consumers recognize a need for a product according to their previous influences. At this stage, advertising directly stimulates consumers to get interested in or to gather more information about a certain product.
However, in the case of a low-involvement product, it is possible that consumers may immediately move to the purchase stage.
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[Acquisition of Knowledge]
Once consumers are interested in a product, they want to obtain knowledge about the product and its category. Therefore, they depend on information from various sources, such as advertising, mass media, reference groups, or an opinion leader.
The more consumers learn about the product category, the better they can compare and evaluate several brands in the category. As a result, consumers can select a brand based on their own criteria provided by advertising in this stage.
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[Examination of the Selected Brand]
Even though a brand is preferred by consumers, it does not mean that the brand is eventually purchased by consumers. Before the actual purchase, consumers, to a greater or lesser degree, examine several aspects with respect to the purchase of the selected brand. In some cases, consumers may go back to the previous stage or lose interest in the product. In this stage, advertising plays a role of building conviction in consumers' minds to make them purchase.
In addition, the advertising strategy, accompanied by some sales promotion strategies, can provide consumers certain incentives and thereby arouse them to an instant action.
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[Purchase / Postpurchase]
A consumer's evaluation of the purchased product is the most important basis for future purchases. Whether consumers are satisfied or dissatisfied with their purchased products mainly depends on the difference between the prepurchase and the postpurchase evaluations.
After the evaluation, consumers decide to continuously purchase the same brand or to find other brands. In this stage, advertising paves a way for the repurchase by reminding consumers about the correctness of their decisions.
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© Copyright 2001, Hanjun Ko. All Rights Reserved.
Questions? Suggestions? Contact me at hanjunko@ufl.edu
Last Updated: April 18, 2001