Decision making is a cognitive process that the individual reiterates on a daily basis, over and over again. Just choosing clothes when getting dressed, for example, is one example.
> Establish the different stages of the customer journey and implement actions to continuously improve the experience.”/>
In marketing, decision making is the last step in the buying journey. It is useful for the company to understand this process, because it allows it to develop its marketing strategy on the basis of the expected behavior of the consumer, in order to encourage the purchase and ultimately increase its sales.
What is decision making?
Decision-making is choosing between several possible actions in the face of a given problem. This designates by extension the putting into practice of the choice made. Step by step, the process takes place as follows: one of the 5 senses receives information, the information is transmitted to the brain, the brain processes the information, the individual performs an action in reaction.
What are the influencing factors in decision making?
Many factors influence decision making. It is therefore difficult to predict the choice that will ultimately be made by the individual. Certain elements nevertheless help to anticipate this choice: the personality of the individual, the stakes of the problem as well as the context of the decision-making guide the choice.
Person-related factors of influence
In a given situation, from one individual to another, the decision-making does not lead to the same choice. Very personal influencing factors come into play:
- Education: the individual tends to reproduce what has been taught to him. Example: if his parents have told him to dress warmly and comfortably, he will more readily buy warm and comfortable clothing, to the detriment of style.
- The environment: the individual can model his behavior on that of those around him or on the contrary go the other way around, depending on his personality. Either way, the environment influences decision making. Example: If jeans are fashionable and the individual has a conformist personality, he prefers to choose jeans rather than velvet pants.
- Experience: Research by Antonio Damasio, professor of neuroscience, shows that decision-making is largely influenced by emotions. However, the same stimuli does not cause the same emotion depending on the individual’s experience. Example: the individual who associates the act of purchasing with pleasure tends to buy a new item of clothing more easily; if the act of buying is associated with guilt, making the decision to buy is a longer and less frequent process.
It is also customary to oppose spontaneous decision-making, based on intuition and emotion, and rational decision-making which is based on in-depth reflection and prior expertise, possibly enriched by external advice. The parallel in love is evocative: reason is opposed to passion. Rational decision-making influences reasoned love while the emotional takes precedence in a passionate relationship. This dichotomy has two considerations:
- The duration of the decision-making process varies: it is longer when influenced by rational factors, choice can be instantaneous when guided by intuition.
- An individual tends to make spontaneous decisions or rational decisions, depending on his personality. But a rational individual can sometimes make spontaneous decisions, and vice versa, depending on the issues and the context. Example: an individual who functions on instinct may take more time to think about it if he has to offer a gift to his beloved to win her back; the stake indeed seems to him particularly important here, he decides to appeal to his reason.
Influencing factors related to the issue and its challenges
Beyond the influencing factors intrinsically linked to the individual, in particular his character traits and his history, the nature of the problematic at the heart of the decision-making also influences the process. 2 factors in particular:
- The complexity of the problem: the more complex the problem, the longer and more substantiated the decision-making tends to be. Example: deciding to wear a raincoat when it rains is obvious; choosing the color of the raincoat is more difficult, because several parameters come into play: the color must be matched to the outfit and adapted to the circumstances.
- The consequences of the choice in terms of risk and satisfaction: the higher the stakes, the more sensitive the decision-making process. In the previous example, decision-making is all the more complex if the person goes to a job interview: their clothing is scrutinized by the recruiter, who has control over their professional future. Among the consequences of the choice, the level of financial risk is a major influencing factor. Decision-making is mainly guided by this risk assessment in the context of a financial investment, for example. In sales, likewise, the salesperson obtains from the prospect a favorable decision-making more quickly for the purchase of a household appliance than for the purchase of a car; the car is in fact a long-term, more expensive investment, and constitutes a good for everyday use.
Influencing factors linked to the context
Contextual elements influence decision-making: from one situation to another, for the same problem, the individual can operate a distinct process. Illustrations: during the economic crisis, the spendthrift individual may decide to be more economical; the motorist, double parked, in a hurry, makes a faster decision when it comes to choosing a package of cakes at the supermarket.
Influencing factors in purchasing decision-making
The purchasing decision-making is initiated by 2 types of triggers:
- The discovery of a need: the purchasing decision-making arises outside of any marketing communication. A need arises in the daily life of the consumer, he must make the decision to buy the product or service that satisfies this need. Example: the consumer notices that he sleeps badly because his mattress is worn out, he needs to replace it, he decides to buy a new one.
- A marketing solicitation: the consumer sees or hears information via a marketing medium such as a poster, video, blog article, podcast or even product packaging in store. Sensory marketing channels, especially scent marketing, can also trigger purchasing decisions. Whatever it is, the marketing medium triggers the envy: the consumer enters the process of making the decision to purchase the product or service.
In either case, the communication strategy greatly influences decision-making. Marketing helps to build the brand image: if the consumer has a favorable image of the brand, he is more likely to choose this brand when buying. Marketing helps to anchor the brand in memories: if the brand is memorable, the consumer thinks of this brand when choosing the product or service to buy.
The stimuli, marketing support or appearance of the product, also influences decision-making. The most telling illustration, although obsolete: toys for girls were pink, because pink was the color associated with girls; the consumer saw the pink packaging, his brain associated it with a product for girls, and the consumer bought it more favorably to give it to a girl as part of spontaneous decision-making. The company can take advantage of the influence of the stimulus in the decision-making process:
- The company determines its persona.
- The company defines the typical profile of the persona: his experience, his education or his environment.
- The company develops its marketing on the basis of the persona profile. Its communication media but also its packaging, merchandising and logo are designed to encourage the persona to make the purchasing decision.
The process of decision making
Here are the 4 stages of the intellectual path when making a decision.
Awareness of the problem
First step: the individual discovers a need or a problem, which requires action on his part.
Applied to marketing, this 1st step is often induced by the discovery of an advertisement or a product in store, which creates the need or which makes the consumer want. Marketing plays a central role in spontaneous decision-making: if the advertising or packaging attracts enough, it creates the desire or it creates the need so as to immediately trigger the decision-making process. Marketing is also useful for long-term decision-making: if the marketing is effective, the consumer remembers the brand when the need arises later.
Consideration of options
As the next step in the decision-making process, the individual identifies and evaluates the alternatives. To do this, he seeks information and draws on his knowledge, his experiences and the advice of those around him. For each possible choice, the individual anticipates the consequences and gauges the levels of risk and satisfaction.
At this point, marketing is a powerful tool in triggering decision making. The company implements a comprehensive, reliable and convincing communication to promote its offer: it is on the basis of this information, available easily and easily understood, that the consumer decides to buy.
During this stage, the individual sets his choice and implements it.
In marketing, it is then a question of encouraging the purchase, for example by putting forward a promotion. And to facilitate the implementation of the consumer’s purchasing decision, the company makes its offer easily available, for a smooth customer experience.
At the end of the process, the individual evaluates his decision-making: this evaluation has consequences on his future choices, since it is now integrated into his experience.
For the company, this step is not insignificant: it is the role of customer service that is illustrated, so as to consolidate customer satisfaction in order to retain them over the long term.
To go further, download these free templates and find out how to establish the different stages of the customer journey and implement actions to continuously improve the experience.