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What buying behaviour is and why you need to know

We all want people to buy what we are selling right?

But I’m a firm believer that we can’t make people buy they have to choose  to buy.

If we understand how people choose to buy then we can put in place all the information they need to make a positive choice. Buying behaviour is all about the steps people go through when they are making that choice.

Think about the last thing you bought. How did you decide who to use or what product to buy?

Oddly, although we’re all different, research has shown that humans make buying decisions in the same way. We may take longer or shorter time, gather more or less information but we still go through the process.

There are 5 steps in this process and the great news for businesses is that understanding these steps allows them to make it easier for the consumer to choose their product or service.

These are the steps that people go through when they are thinking about buying something;

  1. Recognition – people realise there’s a need either on their own or they get prompted.
  2. Search – when they realise there’s a need our prospective buyer will do an information search. They’ll probably do an internal search ( memories of good/bad experiences, recommendations that friends have made, ads they’ve seen) or they’ll do an external search by checking Google or asking around. They’ll look at all the features of something they want to buy and maybe subconsciously will rank them in order of importance.
  3. Matching – they’ll make up a short list of possible buys and then match them against the ranking that they made up in the previous stage.
  4. Choice – They’ll form a short list and then make a choice based on the results of their matching process
  5. Purchase – they actually go through the process of buying

However there’s something important that businesses need to know. A buyer can choose to either re-start or leave the process at any time. So if your prospect gets all the way through to stage 5 and your purchase process isn’t smooth and intuitive then they can easily drop out and go and find another supplier. Similarly if no product gets through the matching process they may go back and do another more detailed information search.

Stage

What buyers do

What you need to do

Examples

Recognition

Realise there’s a problem – decide whether to do anything about it

Prompt people to realise there’s a problem or create a need

Insurance, car cam belts, gas boiler servicing

Search

Look for information on solutions both internally (memories) and externally, develop assessment criteria

Make sure you are around and that they can find information, make sure that you are memorable so that you are stored internally

Google, tourist information,key fobs, Meerkats, loyalty schemes

Matching

Assess features and benefits of each against their criteria developed in stage 2

Ensure your benefits are clear and that you compare favourably. Factfind. Give incentives or bespoke

Mobile websites, comparison sites, comparison charts

Choice

Decides which (whether) the product sufficiently matches the criteria

Spell out how your product meets the need, answer request for further information, bespoke your service

Statement of benefits, Car websites

Purchase

Goes through with the purchase then evaluates their experience and stores it in memory for next time

Make sure it’s easy to buy

Repeat orders, shopping lists

The process is longer or shorter depending upon how important the purchase is. The more important a decision, the more consequences or the more expensive then the more information the buyer will seek. Would you look to do a structural survey on a shed? Probably not. The consequences of getting it wrong won’t be as disastrous as choosing which house to buy and it doesn’t cost as much money so consumers won’t look for as much information and won’t view as many alternatives.

As an aide i’ve included some questions below, see if it gives you any inspiration for marketing your business or product

Stage

Questions

Recognition

  • At what point do your customers realise their need?

  • Is location important (A kebab shop outside a pub)?

  • Is timing important (Buying a cycle helmet with a new bike)?

  • Can you induce need (Telling customers that they need to get their boiler serviced)?

Search

  • How would a customer find out about you?

  • Are you memorable?

  • Would they recommend you?

  • Are there any places that people always look for your service?

  • Are there any times that they look for information?

Matching

  • How do you show your customer that you match their criteria?

  • What methods are available to help the ‘ticking off’ process

  • Is the customer able to bespoke your service?

Choice

  • Are you able to spur a customer into choice?

  • How do you avoid your customer going round again?

Purchase

  • Do you make it easy to buy?

  • Are there any blockers to buying?

  • If there are can you remove them or make them easier?

  • Is it easy to repeat buy?

These are the steps for a personal purchase and we’ll usually make them in isolation but often the business buying decision can be the same or similar. It may have more formal steps, it may be longer but it’ll still contain the same basic methods although it may well include more people in the decision making process.

If you tailor your service or product to the way that people buy you should have happier customers. Happy customers will come back (because of their information search) and you’ll have a busy business. Everyone’s a winner!

 

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