Understanding Consumer Decision Making 7361 2021


Part A:

Thinking about a recent purchase of your own, illustrate your understanding of the concepts involved, to describe and explain the different stages in the Consumer Decision Making process.

The five stage Consumer Decision Making Model evaluates the entire process a consumer supposedly goes through before and during their purchase of a product. (Panwar et al., 2019) Marketers can use this model to get a better understanding on the influences and the reasons behind why consumers make the purchases they do. Using the decision-making model shown below I will outline my route when purchasing a pair of shoes during black Friday.

(Kotler et al., 2017)

Stage 1: Need Recognition

Need recognition is the initial stage of the decision process with the inspiration for the purchase comes from the recognition of a problem or a need. Influences for this recognition can be internal or external. (Stankevich, 2017) Internal stimuli can be basic needs such as being thirsty or hungry. External stimuli are created by marketers using sales promotions which make consumers feel imbalanced such as “Have you had your eyes tested recently?”. This creates an imbalance that marketers would hope influences consumers into a want to get their eyes tested. Marketers can also contribute to circumstances where they make the consumer feel they need the product (such as the example given) or they create a desired state. (Panwar et al., 2019)

This imbalance that marketers can create is known as shifts in actual or ideal states. The ideal state shifts up when an opportunity arises. A consumer’s actual state drops when they need recognition. An example where a consumer’s state would drop could be when “there’s no milk in the fridge” or “their laptop stops working”. (Solomon et al, 2013).


In my case, I had a problem which was created by both an internal stimulus where I wanted a pair of black shoes/trainers. This want for a pair of black shoes was also influenced by external stimuli as my email inbox was filled with black Friday deals from shoe manufactures like Nike and Adidas. Another external influence came from other people such as my friends and other students. Quite a few people I knew had black trainers, so I was seeing them often, this created an unfulfilled need and I began to search for a product to satisfy it.

Stage 2: Information Search

Leading onto the second stage of the decision-making model, Information Search. This stage of the model is where the consumer searches for their options/different alternatives to satisfy their want. There are two types of information search, internal and external. (Kotler et al., 2017) An internal information search is where the consumer searches through memory using past experiences as an influence. External information search involves the consumer possibly researching through public sources such as blogs, review websites and videos. External information search can also be more personal by finding out opinions and experiences with the product/s in question from family or friends. Less personal external searches can come through marketing ads, emails, posters and so on. (Panwar et al., 2019)

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Relating to my purchase, it leaned towards a more external information purchase as I had never bought black trainers before. As I had bought trainers in general previously, I in fact used elements of an internal search. This was because I remembered some of the black shoes that had caught my eye in the past, I also knew where to look to buy trainers from memory as well.

My external information search involved asking some friends which all black trainers they like the most right now, looking at trainer websites such as JD and Nike and using YouTube to view some of the trainers in more depth, to get a better feel of what they’re like in person.

Another element of my external search was influenced by marketers during black Friday. My email inbox had been bombarded with emails of deals and discounts on selected products. There was one email that caught my eye from Nike which displayed a nice 30% off but when I opened the email it presented a code delivering another 30% off on top for a limited time only. 60% off in total! This deal sent me straight to their website where I added a few products in my ‘evoked set’, which leads onto the next stage.

Stage 3: Evaluation of Alternatives

This third stage involves all the options of products the consumer has considered. The consumer will then eventually narrow this down into their ‘Evoked Set’. (Kotler et al., 2017)

These products will be the ones that are most preferred by the consumer where they will exclude products of low importance. There is another set called the inept set which are products that are rejected and not considered.

The Evoked and Inept set are normally created after the information search stage where known brands would be considered inside the evoked and unknown/unacceptable brands placed inside the inept set.

Salience is used inside the Evoked set. This is where a level of importance is given to each aspect so the products can be compared within the Evoked set.

In my case, I was set on purchasing shoes from the Nike website, so that was the only brand in my evoked set. Other brands that were not offering the same discount as Nike I placed subconsciously in my inept set.

When it came down to selecting shoes from Nike, Style was the main factor but also the price as it varied a lot. I already had shoes from Nike, so these influenced my purchase as I knew how some of the shoes from Nike fit/felt already and the look in person. I came to a decision as I found the best deal for my money and it was a model I already had in a different colour.

Step 4: Purchase Decision

This fourth step in the decision-making process contains the buying process. This stage contains variables such as ‘when to buy’, ‘where to buy’ and ‘how much money to spend’.

With my purchase, as I thought this deal of 60% off was only around for a limited time for black Friday, I thought this would be the last time I saw the shoes at this price. So, with the “When to buy” factor I thought now was the best time.

When considering “Where to buy”, I decided on Nike due to their deal I received through email. From searching through the brands that were originally in my Evoked set none of them offered the same discount for the same quality of shoe.

How much money to spend was a big factor as I was searching for the best deal, the shoes were originally £155, and the discount brought them down to £64. This made me feel the amount of money I’m spending was justified.

Within this process I did consider whether I really needed the shoes, I felt that as my situation as a university student where I’m more conscious about money than before, that did make me think hard about whether I needed them.

A concept that featured when I was making my decision was Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs. This hierarchy represents human needs with the most pressing at the bottom and the least at the top. This hierarchy was supposed to explain why people are driven by particular needs.

With new shoes I personally felt that they brought a feeling of status and self-esteem which would place my need at the ‘esteem needs’ level of Maslow’s hierarchy. Having new shoes and people complementing you was a slight factor in the decision making for my shoes.


Maslow (1943)

Step 5 Post-Purchase Behaviour

The post-purchase stage and the last stage of the decision process involves the satisfaction or dissatisfaction of the purchase. This can be identified if product matched or exceeded expectations. (Stankevich, 2017)

Most major purchases are known to cause cognitive dissonance also known as “buyer’s remorse” (Nadeem, 2007), which is where the consumer feels discomfort after their purchase. For example, “Have I spent too much.” “Will I really use it”.

With my purchase, initially I had a slight feeling of cognitive dissonance, as a certain part of the shoe was a lighter colour than I expected so I wasn’t sure if I made the right choice. I then wore the pair of shoes out a few times and haven’t noticed it since. I felt I made the right decision at the time although at some periods I have felt that the money I spent could have gone on more basic needs.

Part B:

Using an example(s) of real world advertising apply theories of consumer behaviour to discuss the concept of the Self/Extended Self and its effect on consumers’ purchasing behaviour. Illustrate your answer with the real world advertising examples, discussing how these adverts applied the concept. (approx. 1000 words).

The concept of the Self/Extended Self can be used by marketers as the products that we buy as consumers can explain who we are and what we’re like. Products can also be advertised to display what you could be like if you purchased the product.

The Extended Self is represented as us and the products we surround ourselves with, we regard our possessions as part of ourselves. (Belk, 1988)

In the adverts I have chosen by Apple, I feel they have used the aspect of extended self to the full extent.

 (Apple, 2006)

On the left represents a PC in Apple’s view, using self-concept a man dressed “wearing dweeby glasses and a jacket and tie.”. (Kotler et al., 2017) On the right represents a Mac, younger, more casual, dressed in Jeans.

Apple have many adverts with these two people with very different personalities which are part of their “Get a Mac” campaign. They have constant conversations where Mac always comes out on top.

Apple have used this advert to represent their brand “Personality” which is young and with it. They are reaching out with this advert to deliver a message that if you’re ‘young and with it’ you should get a Mac.

The campaign also relates to a consumer’s self-esteem which is a big factor when considering self-concept as self-esteem is the positivity of it. (Sirgy, 1982) Adverts can trigger low or high self-esteem and social comparison. This can be represented in Apple’s “Get a Mac” campaign as they are directly comparing PCs to Macs. The campaign could be seen to be giving PC users low self-esteem as they are being shown as slow and out of date.

This campaign referenced a certain aspect of self-concept which is the Ideal Self. The ideal self is one of four main aspects of self-concept, the others being actual self, social self and ideal social self.

Actual self represents the way consumers see themselves, ideal self is how consumers would like themselves to be seen, social self being how consumers think they are seen as, and ideal social self is how consumers would like others to see them.

Most if not all of Apple’s adverts hit at a consumer’s Ideal self or ideal social self. Apple advertise their products as if they can help the consumer reach their ideal.

(Apple, 2019)

This advert labelled “The Underdogs” displays how Apple’s products can be used together within a team to get jobs done quickly and effectively. The advert is also placed in a common business environment which can relate to a consumer’s ‘actual self’ and showing how they can improve it.

This advert also relates to the theory of multiple selves/identities and roles within one’s self. (Bahl and Milne, 2010) For example, a marketer would try and advertise to each of these roles/selves. A teacher who is also a mother and an activist or wife and so on. Within the Apple’s advert shown, they show their products not just being used within the workplace but at home, on the train, with the kids. The advert is trying hit at the multiple selves’ theory where regardless your role/self these products can still help you get through it, ‘apple’s ecosystem is the only one you need’.


  • Apple (2006). Apple Ad – Mac and PC – Restarting. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY60vzAWqxw [Accessed 12 Dec. 2019].
  • Apple (2019). Apple at Work — The Underdogs. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9TdA8d5aaU [Accessed 12 Dec. 2019].
  • Bahl, S. and Milne, G. (2010). Talking to Ourselves: A Dialogical Exploration of Consumption Experiences. Journal of Consumer Research, 37(1), pp.176-195.
  • Belk, R. (1988). Possessions and the extended self. Journal of Consumer Research, 15, 139–168
  • Kotler, P., Armstrong, G., Harris, L. and Piercy, N. (2017). Principles of Marketing European Edition 7th Edn. 7th ed. Harlow, United Kingdom: Pearson Education Canada, pp.155-159.
  • Nadeem, M. M., (2007) Post-Purchase Dissonance: The Wisdom of the ‘Repeat’ Purchases. Journal of Global Business Issues. 1(2), pp.183-193.
  • Panwar, D., Anand, S., Ali, F. and Singal, K. (2019). Consumer Decision Making Process Models and their Applications to Market Strategy. International Management Review; Marietta, 15(1), pp.36-44.
  • Solomon, R., Bamossy, G. J., Askegaard, S. T., Hogg, M. K. (2013, A) Consumer Behaviour: A European Perspective. 5th Ed. Harlow: Pearson Education Ltd.
  • Stankevich, A. (2017). Explaining the Consumer Decision-Making Process: Critical Literature Review. JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS RESEARCH AND MARKETING, 2(6), pp.7-14.
  • Sirgy, M. (1982). Self-Concept in Consumer Behavior: A Critical Review. Journal of Consumer Research, 9(3), p.287.




Approximately 250 words