Consumer’s motivation to purchase is influenced by two factors: the decision-making process and the sociological factors, Oke et al. (2016). Strong corporate branding can influence both the consumer’s decision-making process and the sociological factors. Companies understand this and go to great lengths to build strong brands which become engrained in the minds of consumers throughout the entire purchasing cycle.
From a corporate branding perspective, it’s important that marketing efforts recognize the characteristics that influence buying behaviors (Oke et al., 2016). There are four main factors that have an impact on whether or not a consumer will purchase a product or service: cultural, social, individual and psychological (Oke et al., 2016, “Factors Affecting Consumer,” para. 1).
A person’s cultural background can create basic values which can be derived from family, friends, and society. When a person makes a decision to purchase, their country of origin can play a crucial role in that decision. Further, a culture can be segmented by social class, religion, region and race (Oke et al., 2016).
The second factor is a person’s social circle. These circles consist of family, friends, and colleagues. People seek and formulate opinions based on the suggestions of others within their circle in order to save time during the evaluation process (Oke et al., 2016). A level of comfort with a product is established when a product or service is recommended by someone within their social group.
The third factor is the individual factor. Everyone has different motivations which are influenced by a person’s age, gender, lifestyle, and self-concept. (Oke et al., 2016).
The final factor that can influence the buying process is the psychological factor. Feelings, perceptions, images, and expectations can be associated with a brand — creating a brand image. A brand image exists in a person’s mind and is formed by all of the experiences that a person has had with a product, service or company (Kurtkoti, 2016).
The Decision-Making Process
The four sociological factors — cultural, social, individual and psychological — can influence the decision-making cycle that a consumer goes through in order to arrive at a purchase (Oke et al., 2016). The purchasing of a product or service is not solely about the actual purchase.
There are steps that take place before the actual purchase is made, and the process continues even after the item has been bought. Marketers of strong brands focus on the entire buying process in order to obtain and retain consumers (Kurtkoti, 2016). A buyer goes through five stages when making a decision: Need recognition, gathering of information, evaluation of options, the actual purchase, and their behavior after the purchase (Kurtkoti, 2016, “Consumer Decision Making Process,” para. 2).
The first stage in the decision-making process begins when a person recognizes that they have a need (Oke et al., 2016). That need can either be functional or psychological. Functional needs are more performance based, while psychological is related to how a consumer feels about the product or service they purchase (Oke et al., 2016).
After a need is recognized, the consumer moves to the information gathering stage (Oke et al., 2016). Information gathering can be classified as being internal or external. An internal search is when a consumer remembers relevant information about a product or service from previous experiences. An external search is when a consumer seeks information from another person or outside source (Oke et al., 2016).
Stage three of the decision-making process occurs when a consumer makes an assessment between the variety of products being offered by various companies. Generally, a person’s needs will dictate the types of attributes they are looking for. A company can build value in the minds of consumers by differentiating their products and services from competing brands (Oke et al., 2016).
Stage four is where the actual purchase takes place. The consumer has weighed their options, conducted research and has settled on a product that best suits their needs. Oke et al., (2016) state that the retailer is also a factor that customers use to make their final decision. Retailers can entice the consumer to make the purchase by improving their customer service and in-store displays. If the purchase is being made online, the user experience and user interface of the website can solicit a purchase.
After the purchase has been made, companies can gain useful insight about the customer’s purchase by contacting them and gathering data. If the customer was satisfied, an emotional bond can be established, leading to positive word of mouth and repeat orders from that customer (Kurtkoti, 2016). Conversely, if the customer’s expectations are not met, emotional detachment can be created, leading to negative word of mouth, which can be detrimental to an organization. With consumers having a voice on a variety of social media platforms, customer complaints can reach a large audience very fast (Kurtkoti, 2016). Being slow to react to those complaints can harm the brand reputation.
Regardless of where the consumer is in the decision-making process — corporate branding can influence those decisions by establishing a need, identifying who their customers are and creating value in their products that are supported by consistent and effective brand messaging that sticks in the minds of consumers.
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Kurtkoti, A. (2016). Factors influencing consumer buying decision process for different products and brands. Sankalpa, 6(1), 1-16. Retrieved from http://prx-herzing.lirn.net/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.prx-herzing.lirn.net/docview/1807690548?accountid=167104
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