The 5 Steps of Consumer Buying Process [Explained]

Consumer Buying Process

The consumer buying process also called the consumer decision making process includes a series of steps consumers used to take when buying any product or service.

The steps begin with the identification of the need for the product or service, followed by an information search, alternative evaluation, purchase decision, and evaluation of the purchase experience.

Consumers usually go through the five-step process while buying the products, let’s understand them individually.

Need Recognition

The initial stage of the consumer buying process is the recognition of product needs. A consumer will not make a purchase decision unless he does not feel he needs to buy a product. To be involved in a purchase decision, a consumer should realize there is an unmet need or problem that needs a particular product to be solved.

Consumers’ needs are of two types – functional and psychological. Functional needs refer to basic needs without fulfilling such needs the performance of consumers will be affected. Such as the need for food, water, and shelter.

Related: What is Consumer Product?

On the other hand, psychological needs refer to additional needs or desires customers want to fulfill. This might be caused by the influence of others, advertisements, or publicity about the products.

As a marketer or seller, you should be able to provide information about your products to such consumers. Make the campaigns attractive, recognizable, and understandable, and make them feel you have the product that will best meet their needs.

Information Search

Once customers identify their need for the product and the product that will solve their problem or satisfy their need, they begin the search for relevant information about the product.

For this, buyers may ask their friends, and families, google the product, and even visit the sites of the brand. They search for similar products available in the market, who are the sellers of the product, how customers are telling about the products, and visit different product reviews forums.

As a seller, you should provide all the necessary information about the product whether it is in the physical store or in the website. People seek to know more about the product when they are buying.

As people more trust other people than businesses, you can also put reviews of your happy customers about your product in the form of videos or written form, which can also greatly influence customers about your product. This could be your best opportunity to attract customers to your brand.

Alternatives Evaluation

In the information search step of the consumer buying cycle, consumers gather information about the products including different sellers of the products, suppliers, costs, quality, features, reviews, and other necessary information.

Read Also: What is Core Product?

After the information search stage is completed, they evaluate the alternative products that can solve their problem or satisfy their needs. Usually, they evaluate the products in terms of cost, benefits, risk, quality, and convenience.

This is the step, they decide which product to buy and which not. As the market has various similar products that can satisfy customers, they used to evaluate those products before buying.

As a marketer, at this stage, you should be able to convince customers that your product is superior to other comparable brands. For this, explain how your product is superior, provide the materials about your product, and overcome their objections when they ask you.

Purchase Decision

After a careful analysis of all available alternatives, now consumers step into the purchase decision. Consumers have recognized their needs or problems, gathered information, and evaluated the information in order to reach this moment i.e. purchase.

Here, the consumers actually make the purchase. They purchase the product that best suits their need or problem. In addition, they prefer a product that is qualitative, reasonably priced, and makes their shopping experience convenient.

Related: Steps To Make An Effective Decision

However, there is also an exception, after all these consumers may change their purchase decisions. They do it because of two main reasons – when their close ones give them negative feedback about the product. And, when there are sudden changes in business plans, financial crunch, unexpected higher prices, etc.

Consumers will decide to buy your product if you have done your above jobs correctly.

Post Purchase Decision

Post-purchase decision/evaluation is the last step in the process of consumer buying. After purchasing and using the product, they compare the product with their expectations from that product. This leads to either satisfaction or dissatisfaction.

When customers are satisfied, they may decide to return to the same brand for a future purchase, give positive feedback on products, and even recommend their friends and families.

Whereas, when they are dissatisfied, they may voice their complaint to the company, decide not to return to the same brand, and even recommend others not to buy that product.

As a marketer/seller, you should provide them with after-sales services. Your goal should be to make your customer’s post-purchase experience positive. If you do this correctly, there is a higher chance that they will return to your brand for future transactions.


As a marketer/brand, you should be aware of these five stages of the consumer decision-making process and what they do in these steps. This lets you design the right marketing strategies for each step and attract the most customers.

Read Next: Factors Influencing the Consumer Buying Process

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