lady at her laptop holding a credit card making a purchase decision online

Consumer Decision Process Model | Consumer Psychology

June 25, 2019
Szymon Zurek

Consumer Decision Process Model and the Consumer Psychology

The Consumer Decision Process model (CDP model) is a very simplified version of the process the consumer goes through when making a purchase decision. This process is also important to consider when a consumer can make a decision towards what brand they interact with. The CDP model serves as a road-map. This theory looks at the journey a consumer takes rather than the end goals. The CDP model has seven steps:

  • Need recognition,
  • Search for information,
  • Pre-purchase evaluation of alternatives,
  • Purchase,
  • Consumption,
  • Post-consumption evaluation,
  • Divestment.
the consumer decision process model the cdp model diagram

There is a lot of depth in each stage and because of this, we will write a separate article going through each one of them thoroughly. There are two main factors that effect each stage. The internal factors and the external factors. Internal factors consist of personal aspects, such as, motivations, objectives, attitudes, knowledge, recourses (money , time and information), goals, wants and desires as well as character. External factors on the other hand are factors such as, family, culture, situation, influencers, opinion leaders, experts and marketing dominated mediums.

Consumer Decision Process  - Need recognition

Need is when an individual senses that 'something' should be ideal but the situation tells otherwise.
Needs are more important than desires therefore desires are fulfilled only once needs are. Needs and desires are stimulated naturally and unconsciously. This is why selling a needed product on the market is so profitable, especially if you are the market leader.

Even though consumer needs are stimulated unconsciously, once the consumer is conscious of their need, they will look into external and internal influences to act on their decision and go to the next stage called "Search for Information".

Consumer Decision Process - Search for information

When consumers searches for information, they use two sources. Internally to fetch from memory or externally collecting information from peers, family, marketplace or the internet. Sometimes consumers search passively and subconsciously, as they know their need. This means that if the needed information is presented, the consumer takes it in. For example, you know that you are in need of a new vacuum cleaner. You put that information in the back of your head, and when encountering a vacuum cleaner advertisement, without intentionally searching, you are closer to making a decision on the purchase.

There are two types of Information Sources:

- Marketer-dominated sources (advertising, persuasion, sales etc…)

- Non-marketer-dominated (opinion leaders, family, friends, media etc…)

It is important to note that when a consumer is searching for product information, they are more likely to trust non-marketer-dominated sources as they are more neutral and unforced.

Pre-purchase evaluation of alternatives

Each individual has their own way of evaluating their options and basis it on personal factors such as lifestyle, emotions and attitudes towards brands, the price, what they feel like that day, aesthetics, values, lifestyle and needs. (You can find a helpful article about attitudes here)
Their evaluation is also based upon external factors that we discussed earlier.
Before making a purchase, the consumer has to make two decisions. Salient attribute decision (to do with the product price, reliability, life span and value).
Determinant attribute decision (when considering which retailer to choose. There are factors such as; how clean the store is, where its closer, does the store have products out of stock often, the customer service).

Consumer Decision Process - Purchase

Finally the consumers decide to go ahead and make a final call on the purchase. There are two phases of consumer decision towards the final purchase. We already discussed these two phases in the "evaluation of alternatives" stage. The first is the decision on the retail store and the next is the actual products in store. A consumer may already have the exact product in mind, however, it often is the case that once the consumer is in the store, they may change their decision. This is because once the consumer sees other choices, they may choose different or even opt out of buying all together. This is why it is very important for marketers to make sure that their product is positioned in such a way that consumers will be more prone to buying it. We will write an extensive article on this topic.

Consumer Decision Process - Consumption

The consumer consumes the product and everyone does it in their own way. They may preserve it for a long time or they may also just consume it right after purchase. Consumers may respect the product and take care of it or they may just be flawless with it. The consumer chooses how they consume. Consumption can be immediate or can be delayed dependent on ones situation. As found by many psychologists, attitude can play a big part in the satisfaction of the consumption. What influences attitude to a big extent that marketers can try to control is the environment. For example, someone eating a hot, freshly baked donut on a street in winter can have more satisfaction than eating it at home.

Post consumption evaluation

Consumer's second guess and ask whether they made a good call on the purchase. This is especially true when purchasing high involvement products (more on that here). This is called “post purchase regret” or “cognitive dissonance”. The higher the price the higher the concern may be. To satisfy consumers after purchase, marketers let consumers call a toll-free number to address and solve any concerns. Furthermore, there are often FAQ on the website as well as other materials to support any questions a consumer may have. This allows marketers to confirm that the consumer is happy with the purchase.

Product Divestment – Disposal

  • The divestment stage becomes more important with each day as ecology and recycling plays a big part in our society. When developing the product it is important to think of the divestment stage. This will ensure that you can market the product for a larger consumer base as many consumers these days are "conscious consumers".

  • There are three main ways to dispose a product. Throwing away (disposal), recycling the product or remarketing it (selling), (additionally donation it, kind of like remarketing it).

  • Ecology and recycling may play a role in the divestment stage when disposing of the product itself or its packaging, even its literature.

  • Remarketing is another way of 'disposing' the packaging (selling it). For example, in Poland and Eastern Europe, people are inclined to give glass bottles back to the shop to get some money back. This is not only good for the environment, but also for the manufacturers and the consumer. Everybody wins.