What is The Consumer Purchasing Decision?

The Psychology of Online Selling: Harness the Power of The Consumer Purchasing Decisions Process

It’s one thing to stick a website up on the internet and another to create a website that can segment your customers psychology based on their needs, engage with them and then sell to them based on their emotional desires. I’ve learned about it over the years , and I would like to share just how important the consumer purchasing decision process is and how to leverage it to make more money online for your business.


Let’s discover how to get blazing results when you engage with your customer in their stage of the consumer buying decision.

Marketers and sellers are forced to study consumer behavior. Who are the buyers? When do they Purchase? And how DO consumers respond to marketing stimuli? Jeddi, S., Atefi, Z., Jalali, M., Poureisa, A. and Haghi, H. (2013). Consumer behavior and Consumer buying decision process. International Journal of Business and Behavioral Sciences, 3(5).

The consumer decision to purchase basically boils down to their willingness to search for information. Willingness is contingent on perceived benefits (eg money saved) relative to the cost of the search ( time, money, effort spent in conducting the search).

Consumers will search until they find a solution that offers satisfaction and will continue to search externally to obtain environmental data and information specific to their purchase.

They will take into account the probability of loss that could occur (risk), and net gains associated with a solution.

Willingness to buy will be guided directly by an overall evaluation of the deal i.e gains, risks etc. At this stage, be aware, that I’m not just talking about financial risks. I am also talking about emotional gains and risks.

For maximum results, you’ll need to guide the visitor down a customer journey path that handles their objections, perceived risks, and gains, and then focus on the benefits accrued from purchase.

This is know as solution selling process and it is used alongside your understandings of the consumer process to guide the visitor towards a sale.

If you want the best revenue results for your business then be sure to visit solution selling after this article.

Now back to what we were talking about, It is this willingness to jump from site to site that provides SMB’s their greatest ever opportunity to generate sales and gain market share.

If you provide them all the information they need, handle their objections and appeal to their psychological needs in an engaging and interesting way, then you’ll become a source they can trust, that is credible, and you become the leading contender for their business.


Because they’ll have pretty “poster style” websites that push feature based products: sites that do not engage and only produce low traffic and low conversions.

Currently your competitors have a run of the mill format of sales that sells features. Something like “Buy this car it has xxx metal and reinforced this and that”.

And your business?

You’ll have a highly engaging website and content strategy that attracts customers that are seeking solutions that benefit them physiologically, psychologically and socially.

You’ll provide your customers the value they seek, build trust and credibility, and more importantly, create efficient and effective online selling processes through analysis and testing.

Benefits describe how a brand can solve a problem, offer an opportunity, or make a consumer’s life easier, more fun, more enjoyable or more meaningful. KHOR ENG TATT, 2010 Factors Influencing Consumer Buying Behaviour of Luxury Branded Goods, Universiti Sains Malaysia

Now, let me stop you here. This stuff may sound high brow, process disruptive and costly. But a system like this can be cheaply and easily implemented so your business can immediately realise administration and marketing savings while empowering you to scale your revenue stream.

So know we know the basics of how an understanding of the consumer process can effect growth of your sales and help sidestep your competition, what exactly is it?

The Consumer Purchasing Process Model

Consumer Buying Decision Process

Problem recognition. Internal and external stimuli create a need in a person. And those needsre correlated to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

The basic premise is this. People will buy something to solve problems that relate to the persons 1) physiological needs, 2) safety needs 3) need for love and belonging 4) need for esteem from oneself or others 5) need for self-actualisation. Now I’m not going to bore you with the details. What am I going to do is give you a valuable golden nugget from all of this.

Consumers are more inclined to buy from companies that identify and communicate how their products or services fulfill these basic needs vs those companies that simply sell features of a product or service.

The new format of sales incorporates Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and creates them as benefits accrued by purchasing your product or service and says:

“There are xxx number of innocent people killed on the road by irresponsible drivers. Sleep peacefully at night knowing that you are protecting your family by joining the worlds safest drivers. Buy the safest car (xxx) on the road and keep your family safe from irresponsible drivers. “

You see there was no mention of what type of steal, brake systems or horsepower. The statement focuses purely on the resolving the emotional needs and psychology of the reader.

Information Search

Once the need for action to solve a problem is identified the customer will seek possible solutions online.

A brochure or advert pushing a reader to buy on features or price is not as strong a motivator than the consumers own internal feelings.

Feature based content and adverts have a limited amount of power to persuade AND inform. To make a decision a consumer needs information that will allow their feelings to accept or reject an offer. And they’ll gather it externally from friends or family, or from online forums and experts.

Remember, you have 3 seconds to hold the attention of a speeding bullet. How to get a visitor’s attention and keep it, is covered in sales copy and the solution selling links at the top of this page.

But, once the visitor has found you, you will engage in a courting mind-dance using the psychology of Maslows Hierarchy of needs. You will align their psychological needs with your solution and create benefit statements as per their needs. This will keep the consumer engaged as they learn about your solution.

If an individual believes that greater benefits will accrue from search, he will be more inclined to search because the perceived benefits will outweigh the perceived costs Thompson, T. and Yon Ding, Y. (2013). Assessing the consumer decision process in the digital marketplace. Department of Decision Sciences, School of Business, National University of Singapore.

TOP TIP: if you don’t want visitors exiting (bouncing from) your website, then you need to create greater compelling benefits that outweigh the cost of time and effort of them going elsewhere. As many SMB’s use their blogs etc as an SEO tool, and have not implemented these learning’s yet, you will have the competitive advantage.


This stage is where consumers weigh up the information they have found to make a purchasing decision. Most companies immediately think “information” means “price”.

Now, you may be in the fast moving goods industry and thinking to yourself my customers don’t care about any of this waffle your talking! They want price, plain and simple!

Some consumers are sensitive towards price, whereas others are more benefit oriented. Hence, the consumers’ overall evaluation of the deal will vary across segments. Managers should therefore determine which value strategy is appropriate for their target segments and develop their positioning strategies appropriately. Thompson, T. and Yon Ding, Y. (2013). Assessing the consumer decision process in the digital marketplace. Department of Decision Sciences, School of Business, National University of Singapore.

You CAN deepen their desire by creating strategies around, prices, packages, and ROI.

However, you will be competing with your rivals on price and there’s only ever going to be one “cheapest” supplier.


Let me give you an example of how to demonstrate the power of creating benefits in a fast moving good sector that will allow you to charge premium prices over your competitors.

My grandmother is awful worrier. A light-bulb goes and she thinks it’s the end of the world. She has to be out of the room while it gets changed, and anyone standing on a chair to change the light bulb creates worry for her.

Anyhow, we put in a new kitchen for her last year and recently the element blew in her new oven. On a Sunday! She gets up early on a Sunday to spend the entire day cooking the traditional “Sunday Dinner”. She freaked out….


Post Purchase

This stage is about understanding what customers do about their feelings and thoughts post purchase. You can leverage feelings and thoughts your customers have after they purchase to grow your revenues, services and product lines.

Grow your market share with after care services and leveraging consumers testimonials on social media platforms.

If I had bought from the company I found on you tube and they had emailed me requesting a Facebook share or provide a testimonial, I would have given a glowing reference!

Perhaps like many businesses, you have emails from 10’s if not hundreds of positive feedback emails from customers who have benefited from what you sold them. Use them to your benefit and strategically place them as social proof on your website.

Social proof helps by pass the reptilian brain to relive stress in the online purchasing decision and is discussed extensively in the psychology of the customer by the father of public relations Edwards Bernays.

If you want to know more why exactly social proof works, then I suggest you read philosophers works like Nietzsche’s Herd Mentality.

What you need to know is this. Not only can social proof from a customers post purchase feelings sky rocket sales, but when used in conjunction with with a/b testing technology it can lead to astronomical costs savings.

In fact, even negative feedback, post purchase, can guide companies in the creation of new products and services. Have you managed to create new products or services using negative feedback?

Get in touch with us to discuss your digital marketing strategy.

Robert is the Chief Marketing Officer at Exodus Digital Marketing. He has achieved a 1st Class Honours B.A in Marketing from Vangaurd University, California, and 1st Class Honours M.B.S in Management Consultancy from UCD Smurfit Business School, Dublin, Ireland.
He has worked for companies like IBM and BT Telecommunications. He consults and trains small businesses in all things digital marketing. Learn more about us here

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