Decisions, Decisions: How Do You Make Them?

“Habit is stronger than reason.” – George Santayana

Consumers are faced with a multitude of decisions for every product that they shop for. How do they evaluate these brands in order to make these purchase decisions? Think about the last time you shopped for toothpaste. What led you to purchase your brand of choice? Was it out of habit or did it require extensive research? When it comes to decision making, there are 3 levels: Habitual decision-making, limited problem solving, and extended problem solving.

Habitual Decision-making: (Routine response behavior)

Habitual decision-making occurs when the consumer decides to purchase a product from a particular brand out of habit, this can also be considered routine responsive behavior. When purchasing toothpaste, for example, most people make their purchase with very little to no thought. In my home, the brand of preference is Colgate, therefore making the purchase requires very little thought as I would follow my habit. This scenario is the same with many other products that we as consumers are very familiar with and in most cases, extremely loyal to. Lumen learning says, “Consumers don’t think about their purchase–not because it’s of low importance or trivial, but because they have already arrived at a conclusion about which product or brand will best meet their needs. They don’t need to dedicate more thought or consideration because their needs are being met (or exceeded).” This level of the decision-making process is excellent for marketers, as it proves they have successfully won over the consumer by establishing both brand awareness and brand loyalty. 

Habitual decision-making Qualifiers:

  • Low-cost products 
  • Frequent purchasing 
  • Low consumer involvement 
  • Familiar product class and brands 
  • Little thought, search, or time given to purchase

Limited Problem Solving: 

At this level of the decision-making process, the consumer is familiar with the major brands within the product class and is educated to a certain extent about each brand’s characteristics. The difference here is that the consumer may be presented with a brand in which they are not familiar. This stage is the most critical stage for marketers because the consumer may rely on product information that will help educate them about the brand or product. If done well, this could ultimately lead to a purchase.  s

Extended Problem-Solving: 

When it comes to extended problem solving, consumers are completely unaware of the product class, the major brands, or even the different characteristics and attributes which limit their ability to make a purchase decision. As a result, this requires extensive research on behalf of the consumer—and it’s our job as marketers to provide all of the relevant information they need to make a decision. 

Extended Problem-Solving Qualifiers: 

  • Expensive products
  • Infrequent purchasing 
  • High consumer involvement 
  • Unfamiliar product class and brand 
  • Extensive thought, search, and time given to purchase 

Consumers can become a creature of habit, but it’s ensuring we provide relevant and valuable information, at the right time is what makes our jobs as marketers an essential part of the industry.