As you strategize about your marketing for 2022, a deeper dive into buying behaviour is helpful. Understanding how you attract customers and how they decide whether to buy from you or not, will influence your marketing tactics, as well as your content.
In this article, we provide an overview of the buying cycle – the steps a consumer goes through when making a purchase. Upcoming articles will look at each step in more detail.
If you Google “buying cycle,” you’ll get a lot of different graphics. Some show a linear progression, but the goal is to get continued repeat orders, so looking at it as a cycle makes more sense. The number of steps also varies, from four up to eight, but they all basically tell the same story. We break it down into five initial steps, with the sixth being a second purchase.
- Person identifies a need. Examples: Someone just told them that their hot water heater should be checked and tuned up at least once a year (and they haven’t done that). They’re tired of wearing their old, torn winter coat and want a new one. There’s cold air coming in from the windows even when they’re closed. They don’t know what the exact problem or solution is.
- They search for info about solutions to their need. Examples: They Google “hot water tank tune-up,” “winter coats,” or “cold air coming in the windows even when closed.” They might ask friends, or post a question on a social platform. They might try to learn more about the issue to make a better decision.
- They evaluate the alternatives. Example: They find a few different businesses to meet their primary need. They look for details on the factors that have become their “decision-making criteria.”
- They make a decision and place an order. Example: After talking to friends and doing research online, they make a choice based on the differences between the alternatives, related to their buying criteria.
- They evaluate the product and service received. Example: They assess their satisfaction with the product or service. They make note of any issues, remorse, or happiness about their decision.
- If their assessment is positive, they are much more likely to make you their “go-to” supplier, skipping steps 2 and 3 for as long as they continue to hold a positive perspective.