How consumers make the decision to buy a product, select a doctor, or join a health plan. As this chapter will discuss in detail, a variety of factors affect the consumer’s decision-making process.
= The consumer decision-making process can be represented in six stages (as shown in
FIGURE 4-1): (1) problem recognition, (2) internal search, (3) external search, (4) alternative
evaluation, (5) purchase, and (6) post-purchase evaluation.1
= Psychological Influences on Decision Making
There are a variety of personal, psychological factors that affect a consumer’s decision-
making process. To market effectively to consumers, it is useful to understand
these elements: motivation, attitudes, lifestyles, learning, and perception.
= ¦ Sociocultural Influences
Sociocultural factors in addition to psychological influences can also affect consumer
decision making. These sociocultural elements include family life cycle, social class,
reference groups, and culture.
= ¦ African-American Subculture
Presently 13% of the population in the United States is African American.37 The income
levels of this group on average have been below the average for Caucasians and Hispanics
(as was shown in Figure 3–3). Another factor that this group has had to overcome
has been historic problems of racism and segregation and their impact on the education of successive generations.Marketers are increasingly recognizing the growing
influence and buying power of this particular subculture as historic boundaries
and limitations have been removed.
= ¦ Industrial Buyer Behavior
The customer for health care products and plans is changing, as witnessed in the
1990s during the national debate about health care reform. Historically, a health care
organization considered its customers to be physicians and patients.
= Organizational Differences
Organizations differ from consumers in terms of the buying process along several distinct
– Number of Organizations
– Demand Variations
– Greater Total Sales Volume
– Greater Total Sales Volume
– Professional Buying
– Negotiation Variations
The five steps to marketing
research include: (1) problem recognition, (2) identification of research objectives,
(3) research design, (4) data collection, and (5) analysis and evaluation of results.
= ¦ Marketing Information Systems
With the onset of more marketing information, individuals are trying to manage the
flow of data and information in a more organized fashion. A marketing information
system (MIS) is “a structured, interacting complex of persons, machines, and procedures
designed to generate an orderly flow of pertinent information collected from
intra- and extra-firm sources, for use as the bases for decision making in specific responsibility
areas of marketing management.”
Purchase. At this stage the consumer makes the purchase, selecting one brand or alternative
over the others. The decision at this stage may involve final determinations as to
when to purchase or, in the case of certain products, how much to purchase.
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