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The Consumer Decision Process Model

The Blackwell, Miniard, Engel Model
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This model breaks down the consumer decision process into seven basic decisions that have to be taken during the purchase process:-

  • Need Recognition
  • Search for Information
  • Prepurchase Evaluation of Alternatives
  • Purchase
  • Consumption
  • Post-Consumption Evaluation
  • Divestment

In themselves each of these decisions are almost self explanatory and we can easily identify with them and relate them to our own purchase experiences. However when we come to generalize this model we need to consider the factors that influence each of the stages in the process.

Need recognition – This is influenced by three factors:-

  • Environmental Influences
  • Individual Differences and
  • Memory

So clearly this initial stage is strongly influenced by the specific situation, the individual and their past experience, however this can be influenced by marketing activity, if for example past experience of purchasing a product has been positive, perhaps a strong, positive image of a product or brand has been made in the buyers memory and the purchase environment has been made conducive to a specific purchase.

Search For Information – Again this can be more complex, firstly the search process is both an internal and an external process. If the purchase situation is a familiar one, the purchasers memory might satisfactorily provide the information needed. The level of information required to the involvement, experience and level of perceived risk – so even if there has been a significant degree of past experience if there is a high degree of involvement or risk the purchase will require an external search for information.

Prepurchase Evaluation - Once the information is brought together the purchaser will make their decision – this is the result of their individual characteristics. This might be a simple process or a complex process, a logical or an emotional purchase or the result of a simplification. Where complex information requires processing often a heuristic or simple rational is used. This might be to base the purchase on a single feature or benefit that will be used as a surrogate for quality or low risk, or the choice reduced to one of brand.

Purchase and Consumption – These are highly individual aspects – but in some purchases they are extremely important, particularly in the way they influence future purchase behaviour. For example services such as they are actually produced at the time of consumption.

Post Consumption Evaluation – After consumption the purchaser will either consciously or unconsciously evaluate and decide if the result of purchase process was satisfaction or dissatisfaction. This feeds back into the future purchase behaviour either stimulating a more complex behaviour in the future due to an increased level of perceived risk or as a simplification of the behaviour as the purchaser will have learnt by a positive reinforcement.

Divestment – Finally a consumer will need to consider how they will divest themselves of the purchase. The resale value of high ticket items is an important factor in the purchase decision. Increasingly ecological factors also effect purchase decisions – will the item be recycled?

As with all models of human behaviour this model provides a framework for analysis that can influence marketing decisions or explain problems that might arise in the purchase process. Models are far less in predicting what will happen, how consumers will react.

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From:- Consumer Behaviour Blackwell R., Miniard P., Engel J., Harcourt, 2001
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