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The Purchase Process

There is a process every customer goes through when he makes a purchase. It can be thought of as a series of steps or stages that take a potential buyer along the path that leads to a buying decision. While you cannot force anyone from one stage to the next, you can influence the process by providing them with the right information at the right time.

The Purchase Process is as follows:

  1. Possible awareness — Your prospect becomes aware, or already is aware, of the existence of your product or service.
  2. Needs or wants — Your prospect develops one or more needs or wants that your product or service might fulfill.
  3. Research and evaluation of options — Your prospect begins to research the various options he has to satisfy his needs or wants.
  4. Awareness — Your prospect becomes (or already is) aware of the existence of your product or service.
  5. Decision — Your prospect decides to buy your product or service.
  6. Purchase — Your prospect buys your product or service.
  7. Consumption — Your customer consumes your product or service.
  8. Evaluation — Your customer evaluates their experience with your product or service.
  9. Future Decision Processes — Your customer decides if they'll buy your product or service again.

You may have noticed that the awareness stage has been listed as both one and four in the Purchase Process. This is because a prospect can become aware of your product at either stage. A prospect may have heard of a brand of automotive oil, for example, but not own a car, and therefore has no need for it. When she buys a car, however, she may develop a need and go through the process beginning with an awareness of the product. She may, in fact, begin with an awareness of several brands of oil without having a strong opinion about any of them.

If, on the other hand, she has no awareness of the product prior to buying the car, she will develop one after conducting her research in stage three. In this case, the research may be as simple as taking the recommendation of a gas station attendant, or as complicated as one might imagine.

purchase process

Use the space below to identify the various stages of the Purchase Process for your customers. What, to the best of your knowledge, is their purchase experience like?

  1. Possible awareness:­

  1. Needs or wants:

  1. Research and evaluation of options:

  1. Awareness:

  1. Decision:

  1. Purchase:

  1. Consumption:

  1. Evaluation:

  1. Future decision processes: