The Consumer Decision Process
Need recognition occurs when a consumer identifies a need and thinks of a product that might meet this need.
Identify need recognition as part of the consumer decision making process
- The 5 stages which a consumer often goes through when they are considering a purchase: problem or need recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase, and post-purchase behavior.
- Need or problem recognition is oftentimes recognized as the first and most crucial step in the process because if a consumer does not perceive a problem or need, he generally will not move forward with considering a product purchase.
- A need can be triggered by internal or external stimuli.
- Internal stimuli refers to a personal perception experienced by the consumer, such as hunger or thirst.
- Buyer Decision Processes: The Buyer Decision Processes are the decision-making processes undertaken by consumers in regard to a potential market transaction before, during, and after the purchase of a product or service.
- Abraham Harold Maslow: He was an American psychologist who was best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory of self-actualization.
- need recognition: the first step in the buying decision process, where the problem or need is understood
- John Dewey: He was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. Dewey was an important early developer of the philosophy of pragmatism and one of the founders of functional psychology.
The Consumer Decision Processes (also known as Buyer Decision Processes) refer to the decision-making stages that a consumer undergoes before, during, and after they purchase a product or service.
John Dewey introduced 5 stages which consumers go through when they are considering a purchase:
- Problem or need recognition
- Information search
- Evaluation of alternatives
- Post-purchase behavior
Problem or Need Recognition
This is the first stage of the Consumer Decision Process in which the consumer is able to recognize what the problem or need is and subsequently, what product or kind of product would be able to meet this need. It is oftentimes recognized as the first and most crucial step in the process because if consumers do not perceive a problem or need, they generally will not move forward with considering a product purchase.
A need can be triggered by internal or external stimuli. Internal stimuli refers to a personal perception experienced by the consumer, such as hunger, thirst, and so on. For example, an elderly, single woman may feel lonely so she decides that she wants to purchase a cat. External stimuli include outside influences such as advertising or word-of-mouth. For example, a consumer who just moved to Minnesota may not realize he needs a heavy winter coat until he sees a store advertising for it, which triggers the need in his mind.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
American Psychologist Abraham Harold Maslow believes that needs are arranged in a hierarchy. Only after a human has achieved the needs of a certain stage, does he move to the next one. None of his published works included a visual representation of the hierarchy. The pyramidal diagram illustrating the Maslow needs hierarchy may have been created by a psychology textbook publisher as an illustrative device.
This now iconic pyramid frequently depicts the spectrum of human needs, both physical and psychological, as accompaniment to articles describing Maslow’s needs theory and may give the impression that the Hierarchy of Needs is a fixed and rigid sequence of progression. Yet, starting with the first publication of his theory in 1943, Maslow described human needs as being relatively fluid—with many needs being present in a person simultaneously.
According to Maslow’s theory, when a human being ascends the levels of the hierarchy having fulfilled the needs in the hierarchy, one may eventually achieve self-actualization. Maslow eventually concluded that self-actualization was not an automatic outcome of satisfying the other human needs. Human needs as identified by Maslow:
- At the bottom of the hierarchy are the “Basic needs or Physiological needs” of a human being: food, water, sleep and sex.
- The next level is “Safety Needs: Security, Order, and Stability”. These two steps are important to the physical survival of the person.
- Once individuals have basic nutrition, shelter and safety, they attempt to accomplish more. The third level of need is “Love and Belonging”, which are psychological needs; when individuals have taken care of themselves physically, they are ready to share themselves with others, such as with family and friends.
- The fourth level is achieved when individuals feel comfortable with what they have accomplished. This is the “Esteem” level, the need to be competent and recognized, such as through status and level of success.
- Then fifth is the “Cognitive” level, where individuals intellectually stimulate themselves and explore.
- Finally, there is the “Aesthetic” level, which is the need for harmony, order and beauty.
At the top of the pyramid, “Need for Self-actualization” occurs when individuals reach a state of harmony and understanding because they are engaged in achieving their full potential.