The Buying Process

by SMD 

I’m discovering lately that one of the key ways to become successful is to understand the processes involved in my business. With this in mind, I began to wonder about the issue of conversion rate in this story. This article then is the first of a series of drill down articles about how to convert visitors into customers. It focuses on why people buy and what is going on during the experience of that process.

The buying process has been studied extensively and can be broken down into clearly defined steps:

  1. Identifying a Need: This occurs when the consumer becomes aware of a lack or a clearly defined want. I know from my own experience that this stage is the most important. It is like a light switch has been clicked on and in my mind the item already exists in my life, but I just haven’t found it yet to complete the visualization.
  2. Searching: The next stage is searching; this is where the consumer is filled with the excitement of finding the visualized item. The larger the item the greater the excitement [at least in the adult world]. This stage can be addicting. I remember having a brief realization, while sitting on a bench in a mall, that all the people shopping were actually on some sort of misguided spiritual quest.
  3. Evaluate the Choices: Happening during and after the searching phase is the evaluation of the various factors that are involved in the buying decision. This can include things like price, color and accuracy of the match to the perceived need.
  4. Make the Decision: After the choices have been narrowed to the short list, then the final decision can be made. This decision is usually rationalized with the factors from the evaluation phase.
  5. Make the Purchase: The difference between the decision to purchase and the actual purchase is money. Money being the immense force that it is, when it comes time to part with anything other than a tiny amount of it, a wave of thoughts and emotions will accompany the experience. Can I really afford it? Do I really need it? Shouldn’t I save for that vacation? Will my husband get upset? These and similar need to be rationalized and/or somehow worked through or ignored for the purchase to actually be completed.
  6. Reflect and Reevaluate: This one for me usually involves looking at ads until I find the item at a significantly lower price than I paid. It is a type of revenge of the demons who were ignored in the purchasing phase. This stage can also be enjoyable if the process has really been aligned to a need and moved through with care.

Even though the decision to buy is rationalized with technical factors ["I got such a great deal", "It's going to save me so much time", etc], the actual buying is done long before that. The real decision to buy is in the identification stage and it is almost purely an emotional one. It is trying to fill a need or a void at the physical level and that void usually corresponds to an inner void. We all know that “New” is the best tasting candy and seeking a taste of it is what drives most buying decisions.

I have used this site as a reference for this story.

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