The Consumer Purchase Decision Model

by David on February 18, 2010

Like the diffusion of innovation, we have Dr, Everett M. Rogers to thank for this critical understanding of how adopters behave.  In his writings, he talked about how the adoption of a new innovation occurs in 5 steps:

  1. Awareness
  2. Interest
  3. Evaluation
  4. Trial
  5. Adoption

I have used these categories to develop (and actually use!) a practical model to help me understand how to adjust the marketing mix in high technology companies and I will discuss that model in a later post.

But again … Wait … There’s More!

Rogers examined what he referred to as “perceived characteristics of innovations”.  These are the things that potential adopters consider when they look at innovations and they affect how likely they are to move from awareness through the other steps listed above to adoption:

  • Relative advantage (the ‘degree to which an innovation is perceived as being better than the idea it supersedes’)
  • Compatibility (‘the degree to which an innovation is perceived to be consistent with the existing values, past experiences and needs of potential adopters’)
  • Complexity (‘the degree to which an innovation is perceived as difficult to use’)
  • Trialability (‘the opportunity to experiment with the innovation on a limited basis’)
  • Observability (‘the degree to which the results of an innovation are visible to others’)

Innovations that have greater relative advantage, compatibility, trialability, and observability, along with less complexity, generally will be more widely adopted over innovations that do not.

So What?

Well … This is another difference between consumer goods and high technology marketing.  As we discussed in an earlier post, in most consumer goods markets, the risk of purchase is low and the degree of referencing others is also low. Advertising is employed to create awareness and is (or should be … the lack of a “call to action” in most advertising is appalling) focused on getting consumers to go to a store to try the product.

Differences in High Technology Product Marketing

So we know the risk is higher and the degree of referencing is higher in high technology purchases, but what can we do?  The short answer is “keep your powder dry” because the time from awareness to purchase is also much longer for high technology products whether they be B2C or B2B.  That timeframe may be even more extended based on product complexity, the number of decision makers and price.

The key is to identify all the layers between you and the customer including employees, channel partners, industry analysts, investment analysts (Yes, the two are different. Lump them together at your peril), the press (including bloggers!) and the consumer.  Once you have done this you can set your plan of attack to maximize the impact of your time and money spent, especially when advertising is important, since it is so expensive.

The next step is to find who each of these layers reference.  Where do consumers go to get information (TV?, Radio?, Magazines?, E-Zines?, Trade Magazines?, Newspapers?, Google?, Friends and Family?, Peers?, etc.) and which affect them the most?  Where will they go to try the product? Who influences those who write about and speak about high technology? Who do they source for stories? Keep doing this until you have go back to your company and make sure you include it in your analysis.  Many a product has suffered at the hands of a sales force or customer service team that was not familiar, or excited about an offering.

Then get you key points, messaging, positioning and initial target markets down in easy to understand and brief form so you can work on moving forward through the layers toward your customer.

If you do this well each dollar you spend will have a greater effect.  Some people call it leverage. It sometimes seems to be like pushing a rope through mush, but the more your efforts yield something like laser light rather than incandescent light, the better off you’ll be.

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

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