Consumption process

I am currently taking a consumer behavior course and had my midterm last week and the concept of the “buying decision process” was on the exam! I love it when my classes complement each other and I learn the same concept from different angles and I can apply what I already know to learn more. In that class, the buying decision process was described in these steps:

– The realization of a need or desire for something occurs. The consumer now has a want, which is the way a consumer addresses their need in the form of a product or service.

– The consumer weighs their options and looks at various alternatives and eventually reaches a decision. When that decision has been made, an exchange occurs. An exchange is “the acting out of a decision to give something up in return for something of greater value” (Babin and Harris 5).

– Then the consumer uses and experiences the product (or service) firsthand. This product will have certain costs and benefits, which the user will realize. Costs are any negative effects that may result, while benefits are positive effects as a result of consumption. These costs and benefits are evaluated over time and help produce value. The consumer may come to realize that he or she made a good decision, or possibly a bad one.

The steps can be summarized by the image seen above.

This buying/consumption process is quite similar to the one presented by Professor Miyazaki on his blog

With the advent of the Internet and e-marketing, the consumption process has changed quite a bit! Not only do we have unprecedented access to new products and services from our very own home, but we can expedite the research and information-gathering process. Let’s dig deeper.

The emergence of e-marketing has changed the fashion industry and the way that certain stores conduct business. It is now necessary to have an online portal and online shopping is gaining more and more popularity. Here are some more advantages of online shopping:

No longer do people have to go out of their homes to a mall or store to buy new items, they can buy them from the comfort of their own home. The funny thing about e-marketing is that consumers are targeted from their own computers and may find things that they did not even know they wanted or needed until seeing it on the web (thanks for that e-mail Mom, now I’m buying those shoes you showed me). Certain websites such as and Pinterest showcase homemade items and quirky products that users may not have even realized they would ever want or need. Additionally, these items are simply a click away from the consumer!

Ordinarily, when consumers wanted to compare and contrast different products and services, they had to visit various stores (maybe even multiple times) to make a well-informed decision. I remember buying my first digital camera and going to Best Buy to compare all cameras to see which I liked best. However, I wasn’t able to get the camera right then and there because my grandfather insisted on then driving over to Target and comparing prices. Nowadays, it is easy to find information regarding products and services online. The Internet provides a wealth of information. Moreover, users can comment and review items, so consumers can be informed about how other consumers feel about the product. For example, Nordstrom allows comments on all items of clothing. This was very convenient for me when I was buying a pair of booties last winter because I wasn’t sure about the color (I couldn’t tell how bright it was on the screen). Thanks to all the comments, I realized that one user commented how the color wasn’t as bright as it appeared on screen. This made my purchase decision that much easier.

Social media marketing can definitely be used more widely. Consumers should be able to access promotions and sales codes through Twitter and Facebook. A great way to influence the wants and needs of consumers and that portion of the consumption process is through the integration of Instagram and Pinterest. Human beings are visual people and seeing items on screen is very effective. Through Instagram, potential consumers can readily see pictures of a company’s newest items. These Instagram pictures can be simultaneously uploaded to Facebook and Twitter, so consumers can be reached on various platforms. Seeing an item may instantly spark a want.

Back to the fashion industry, it is now vital to have a web presence. Users will want to see all items offered and it is important to present them in a clear and concise manner to make online shopping as simple as possible. Stores have to remain competitive and maintain an edge so that consumers may be influenced to buy from them. This can be done through promotions and targeted marketing. I don’t think the government will track down too much on e-marketing, just as it does not regulate regular marketing and advertising so much. However, laws and regulations may arise pertaining to sensitive topics like marketing to children and marketing certain taboo items (for example: cigarettes).

One last thing to note is that it is important that items and products remain of good quality! It’s oftentimes sad when you see an item that appears really nice online, but is made from a bad-quality material. Companies should remember to always have the best quality product they can offer, or their reputation may suffer (and we will read the angry comments and blog posts). The evaluation process is always done in person so it’s important that the product still be great or it will be of no value to the consumer. Creating value is at the heart of marketing and e-marketing should always be in tune with that concept.


Babin, Barry, and Eric Harris. Cb. 4. Mason, OH: Cengage Learning, 2012. Print.