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Researching the Consumer Decision Making Process

The author selected Samsung Galaxy S21 5G and iPhone 12 and gathered related qualitative information to understand how consumers go through the different decision-making process stages before acquiring a product. Samsung Galaxy S21 5G is a new smartphone by Samsung and the most advanced in the Samsung Galaxy S series (Moss, 2021). Its retailing price ranges from $1000 to $1380, depending on the chosen variant’s specifications. Prices may also vary depending on the retailer. On the other hand, iPhone 12 is one of Apple’s flagship products for 2020. The product retails for between $800 and $1400, depending on the chosen variant’s features (Moss, 2021). Both Apple and Samsung are leading consumer electronics manufacturers and long-time arch-rivals.

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What Was Purchased

Customer A purchased a Samsung Galaxy S21 5G+, which has the most advanced features in its category. Customer A paid $1379 for the product at an authorized online Samsung dealership operating in the country. He got a free silicone case, charger, and earphones. The other interviewee – Customer B – purchased an iPhone 12 Pro Max at $1399 from one of the many brick and mortar Apple Stores in the country. She selected a model with all the advanced features, including 500 gigabytes of storage. Her purchase also included $269 for AppleCare+ with theft and loss protection (for two years), $49 for a silicone case, $129 for a duo charger, $159 for AirPods with charging case, $19 for a USB-C power adapter, $49.95 for a wireless charging pad, and $9 for a headphone jack adapter.

The Kind of Purchase It Was

For Customer A, the purchase was a “limited” undertaking because he rarely shops for smartphones. This purchase was unique because he needed a new phone after losing his old Samsung Galaxy S6. For him, it was a low-involvement decision because he had planned for the purchase when he lost his old phone. Customer B’s purchase, on the other hand, was an “habitual” indulgence. She has upgraded her phone every year since Apple released iPhone 7. She admits that she always purchases the newest iPhone model as soon as it becomes available in the market. The other products she acquired with the phone represented an extended purchase of accessories needed for a fuller experience with the new iPhone 12. Customer B’s purchase was also a high involvement decision because she had to decide on the features she wanted, the color of the phone and the silicone case, and the extra accessories to include.

The Decision-Making Process

Customer A’s overviewed problem was finding a durable new phone with advanced features. He settled on the latest Samsung phone because he believed it was of high quality. He then searched for information about the product’s price, visited a recommended online retailer, ordered the phone, and received it the next day. At the post evaluative stage, Customer A was happy he acquired the product. Customer B, on the other hand, bought the iPhone without a clearly overviewed problem. She searched for information about the product’s price and accessories without an evaluative criterion. The only challenge for her was picking the right phone and the silicone case color. She was unsure if she needed another bright product, or a simple mild one, given her diverse collection of fully functional iPhones at home. She settled for a bright color and visited a nearby Apple Store and made the purchase. The environmental triggers at play, which may have solidified the customer’s desire to purchase the iPhone and its accessories, was effective and reliable customer support. In the post-evaluative stage, she too was happy with the new product.

Comparing the Primary Research with Academic Literature

Customer B’s purchasing behavior seemed excessive and driven solely by the desire to fit in. She spent a considerable amount on the phone she could do without because of the fear of being left behind. However, Customer B is not entirely to blame. According to Solomon, et al. (2013), companies persuade consumers they need material things, and that they will be unhappy and inferior if they lack these ‘necessities.’ Customer B is possibly just a victim of corporate marketing gimmick. Most organizations operate successfully because they have an explicit – not implicit – of the factors influencing consumer behavior (Schiffman et al, 2011). Thanks to extensive marketing, many consumers find themselves under pressure to buy the latest product, even when they do not need them.

The success of a marketing campaign depends on the data used to create it. Hancock (2002) and McMurray (2004) argue that companies implement more effective marketing campaigns after conducting ethical market research to study consumer behaviors. Even so, with the continual economic, social, and technological changes in society and the profusion of offered goods and services, customers use their freedom of choice to select what they want. Their consumption behavior may still be dependent on product perception, customer service, and the purchase risk (Khachatryan et al., 2018). For example, Customer A purchased a Samsung phone because he perceived it as a quality product, and Customer B purchased an iPhone because she thinks it is an appealing electronic.

One of the most crucial pieces of information that customers need to solidify a purchase decision pertains to product price, features, and sale location. Alshare et al. (2020) argue that because people have different amounts of disposable income, they need sufficient information about a product’s price to purchase it. Not surprisingly, both Customer A and Customer B searched for information about Samsung and iPhone prices, respectively, before buying the product. However, Drèze and Nunes (2011) contend that customers can be unpredictable in their decisions, as several factors, ranging from one’s disposable income to influence from marketing campaigns and friends, can affect the decision to acquire a given product. Therefore, it is not surprising that Customer B bought a new iPhone even though she did not need it from a practical point of view. Wong and Wei (2018) note that some customers only buy the products they need. Customer A is an excellent example of a conscious consumer buying only what they need.

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Summary of the Purchasing Behavior

Typically, there are five steps in the decision-making process. They include overviewing the problem, searching for information, evaluation, selection of location, and post-purchase evaluation. Customers do not always go through all the phases of the purchase decision process, and the step they skip often depends on the nature of the purchase. For example, in an impromptu impulse buy, the customer may not search for information before acquiring the product. However, in planned purchases, customers tend to review their options thoroughly before settling on one product. In this assessment, both Customer A and Customer B spent time searching for information about the desired product. As such, this seemed the most essential phase in the associated decision-making process. The information search (by both customers) involved inquiring about the product price, features, and retailers for both customers. The two customers also engaged in relatively thorough evaluative processes to minimize risks and improve the quality and appeal of the final selection.

References List

Alshare, F. et al. (2020) ‘Factors influencing cellular device purchase decisions in Jordan’, Management Science Letters, 10(11), pp. 2501-2506.

Drèze, X., and Nunes, J. C. (2011) ‘Recurring goals and learning: the impact of successful reward attainment on purchase behavior’, Journal of Marketing Research, 48(2), pp. 268-281.

Hancock, B. (2002) ‘An introduction to qualitative research’, in Trent focus for research and development in primary health care. Melbourne: Trent Focus Group. pp. 1-27

Khachatryan, H. et al. (2018) ‘Visual attention, buying impulsiveness, and consumer behavior’, Marketing Letters, 29(1), 23-35.

Moss, S. (2021) ‘From “brick” to smartphone: the evolution of the mobile phone’, MRS Bulletin, 46(2021), pp. 287–288.

McMurray, A. J. et al. (2004) ‘Chapter 8: Qualitative data collection’ in Research; a commonsense approach. Melbourne: Thomson Social Science Press. pp. 187—220.

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Quester et al. (2011) ‘Extracts from Consumer behaviour: implications for marketing strategy – Appendix A. Consumer research methods’, in Consumer behaviour; implications for marketing strategy. Melbourne: Pearson Australia. pp. 1-10.

Schiffman, G. L. et al. (2011) ‘Extracts from Consumer behaviour’, in Consumer behavior 5th edition. Melbourne: Peason Australia. pp. 14–30, 420—421

Solomon, M. R. et al. (2013) ‘Extracts from Consumer behaviour: buying, having, being’, in Consumer Behaviour; Buying, Having, Being, 3rd Edition. Melbourne: Pearson. pp. 16-23.

Wong, E., and Wei, Y. (2018). ‘Customer online shopping experience data analytics’, International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, 46(4), pp. 406-420.

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