what_women_wantOver the last few months I have been bombarded by choices for venues, menu options, flowers, cars, suits, jewellery, music, dresses, shoes, cufflinks and the list goes as I organised my recent wedding at one of our favourite local winery’s, Shaw Vineyard Estate.  It’s been interesting watching my now wife Lisa trying to make decisions and how local businesses have played on the emotions involved to seal the deal.

Here’s an insight on the 5 step purchase decision making process that we all go through, and every business should consider when making decisions on when and how to communicate with their potential and current customers:

1.  Need Recognition – Lisa identified a problem she had to solve, ‘I need a wedding dress’   This need can be influenced by marketing activities such as advertising or PR to create a need or desire.  Ever noticed the number of cold and flu remedies advertised during the winter months.

2.  Information Search – Lisa then starts her search for information she needs to make a decision on solving her problem of finding a dress.  This could include word of mouth recommendations from friends and family,  sales people, website, print material, advertising, radio or visiting retail outlets to view options.

3.  Evaluation of alternatives – Lisa tried on a range of dresses at various outlets and then had to digest all the information about the various options to make a decision.  At this point, decisions can be strongly influenced by sales people defining the value of the dress, quality, unique finish, service that can be expected during fitting, how it differs from competitors products and why that matters.  Though of course Lisa was also strongly influenced by her bridesmaids – never under estimate the power of word of mouth and who really makes the decisions

4. Purchase – Lisa had made her purchase decision and this is where the actual process to make the purchase needs to be easy.  When a customer has made the decision to purchase a product, you need to be available where and when they want to buy with a range of payment options.  If you’re not, there is a chance they will go elsewhere particularly if a similar product or service exists.

5. Post-purchase freak out – Lisa purchased the dress though right up until the last fitting was constantly telling me “she wasn’t too sure about her decision“.  This is a common issue, particular with highly involved decisions such as a car or house.  At this stage follow up communication to reassure the customer they have made the right decision is great practice to build confidence in your brand.

Keep in mind that this 5 stage process happens really quickly for low involvement decision – I’m thirsty, there’s a coke machine, in goes your money, should have bought a sprite  OR take weeks and even months for high involvement decisions – buying a house.

So what have I learnt from watching my wife go through the purchase decision making process – happy wife happy life!

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