Consumer decision making process is a list of steps that are carried out by consumers concerning to a potential market transaction, before, during and after the purchase of a product or service. The process includes identifying the problem, collecting information, evaluating the alternatives, making the purchase decision and evaluating post purchase.
Generally, decision making is the cognitive process of selecting a course of action from among multiple options.
As a consumer, I find that the consumer decision making process is a great help in choosing for the right product which gives a consumer the greatest satisfaction. One of the latest scenarios where I applied this process into my product purchases was buying a beautiful, yet not too costly wedding gown, as I am getting married in the coming month.
I went through five stages of the consumer decision making process in buying the perfect wedding gown as follows:-
Evaluation of alternatives
Purchase / Decision making
Problem recognition is the stage where the consumer is aware of a need or want. It occurs when the consumer realize a significant difference between his or her actual state and desire state. My problem in this situation at this stage, is having to own a new wedding gown, because I am walking down the isle with my fiancé next month. This desire of something new leads to the triggering of the decision process. In addition to my problem, I do not have a very well-funded family, so I cannot afford expensive, luxurious designer’s wedding gown.
When a consumer discovers a problem or a need, he or she is likely to search for more information on how to solve it. The information search stage involves gathering information from various sources in order to make a better-informed decision, it helps clarifies the options open to the consumer which may involve internal search and external search.
Internal search is not required in my situation, because I do not have any past experiences or feelings with wedding gown to recall to, as it is going to be my first time buying it.
Since I have no prior experience with this high-involvement product, I’ll have to use external search, that is, to engage in extensive search of the outside environment for helpful information on which to support a choice.
I’ve obtained information from various sources. First of all, I became more attentive towards commercial sources, such as, bridal gowns advertisements on the billboards and the flyers or brochures related to it handed out in the malls. Moreover, I went to different bridal retailers to get help from the sales consultants and also to browse through the gowns myself. I even sought some information through internet source to see what the basic idea is I need to know about wedding gowns. Last but not least, I gained more information and opinions from my friends and family that are married, through word of mouth.
Through gathering information, I learnt more about the brands that compete in the market and their features and characteristics.
Evaluation of alternatives
With the information search from the previous stage, it helps clarifies the problem for the consumer by suggesting criteria to use for the purchase, yielding brand names that might meet those criteria and developing the consumer value perception
At this stage, I have narrowed down the options available to me and I have to compare the ones that caught my attention based on the criteria that matters most.
After browsing through so many types of brands of wedding gowns, there are two main ones that really meet up to my requirements or expectations, that is Vera Wang’s wedding dresses collection and Mori Lee’s. However, I cannot possibly purchase both of the gowns, because I only need one. Therefore, I have listed down and established the criteria of these wedding gowns for evaluation, so that I can make the right choice.
The table below shows the designs of both wedding gowns:-
Brands | Vera Wang | Mori Lee |
Color – Since I have a fair skin tone, a lighter delicate hue of dress should suit me very well. | Ivory | White pastel |
Fabric- I prefer much lighter and softer fabrics, as I’m getting married during a hot season. | SilkThis light and floaty material is known for its lustrous shine, which gives a lightweight look and feel. | Chiffon and Crêpe These two materials were used to produce the tulle gown in delicate sheets. It gives a soft flowing with a crinkled floral texture. |
Length-Full-length gowns are more suitable for my formal wedding. | Full-length | Full-length |
Silhouette- This refers to the shape of the gown and how it hugs your body. | Mermaid shapeIt is form fitting and slim, but the skirt flares out below the knee to show the perfect hourglass shape. | Full ball gownThis is the most traditional wedding dress silhouette. The bodice is fitted through the waist with full puffy skirt. |
Train- The gown comes with a long train for people to carry when I walk. | It is detachable, so that it will not be stepped on or torn during the reception. | It is detachable, so that it will not be stepped on or torn during the reception. |
Mood- Dresses are also categorized by moods. | RomanticThe dress is strapless and is usually complemented with a long train. | Traditional and romanticIt is described as a full gown with fluffy bottom and bares a heart-shaped neckline. |
Pricing- The price of the dress. | Approximately RM13, 000 | Approximately RM9, 000 |
Purchase / Decision Making
After giving the criteria of both wedding gowns a thorough evaluation, I have come to a decision on which dress to purchase. I chose the second option, which is the Mori Lee’s full wedding ball gown, because the design, texture and color really meet up to my requirements.
As I have mentioned before, I am not very well-funded, thus I cannot afford to pay wholly for the wedding gown. For that reason, I decided to rent the gown, which requires me to pay only 20% of the original price. Vera Wang’s do not provide rental services, thus this adds extra points up on why I prefer Mori Lee’s gown.
To implement my purchasing decision, I have decided to rent the gown from Milan bridal studio, Penang. There are many sizes available there, where I can try them and loan from there easily. Furthermore, I do not need to own the wedding gown myself, because I won’t be wearing it again after my wedding day, so renting the gown is the best option. I have paid for the loan fee using credit card two weeks before my wedding day, so I can get myself prepared with the wedding themes and set ups beforehand.
Last but not least, we have come to the final stage, which is the post-purchase evaluation of the decision. It is very common for consumers to experience concerns after making a product purchase. After buying a product, the consumer compares it with expectations and is either satisfied or dissatisfied.
What I experienced after using the product was the performance of this product exceeds my expectations, causing what is known as positive disconfirmation. After wearing Mori Lee’s wedding ball gown on my special day, I felt completely satisfied and contented with the gown I chose.
That wedding gown suited me perfectly well on that day; the floral texture on the skirt matches the wedding theme flawlessly and I felt really comfortable wearing it. The fabric of the gown did not cause me to feel hot or itchy at all, unlike some other gowns I have tried. Furthermore, I was really happy with the decision I made, that is to only rent the dress. It helped me saved a lot from my budget and I still get to flaunt that piece of beautiful gown during my wedding day at the same time.
In short, I find that the consumer decision making process is really helpful when it comes to choosing the right product to purchase. I think this process is more suitable to be used in high-involvement purchases, which include those involving high expenditure or personal risk – for example buying a house, a car or making investments, because the stages of the process really guides you to choose the best option, without having to feel guilty or regret after buying it.
I will strongly recommend people whom I know to use this process when they are purchasing something important, because it lessens the risk of buying and increases post-purchase satisfaction to a consumer after going through the stages and choosing the right alternative.
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