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consumer decision making process

 

1.      Introduction

The success of brands depends on ways marketers align products along  Consumer Decision-Making Process (CDMP). CDMP refers to steps through which consumers identify their needs for products and services, collect information on products and services, evaluate alternative options and make a purchase decision or decline to make a purchase decision (Mathur, Jain, Hsieh et al., 2013).  An example of a company that has excelled in exploiting the value of CDMP is H&M.

1.1       Benefits of understanding consumer behavior

A company ability to understand consumer behavior is explained by consumer behavior models (Anais, 2014). The black-box model of consumer behavior is identified by Alina (2017) to be based on external stimulus-response. For example, in the context of H&M, the external stimulus is identified from sufficiently lit stores that have enough visual merchandising, navigation and sense of order. Samson and Voyer (2014) argue that external stimulus is associated with H&M Zero tolerance to “garment litter” through the practice of design displays, which exploits values of cues, and visual buying process. Visual cues stimulate consumer purchase intentions and to make purchase decisions that are increased by marketing messages, sampling, product availability promotions and fair price for value for money. As a result, H&M use consumer behavior to to recognize and forecast current and future purchase intentions. In particular, consumer behavior is important because it helps marketers of H&M to understand what consumers buy and based on the product, establish why customers buy the product. Understanding consumer behavior is important at H&M because it makes marketers understand ways consumers think and ways consumers make decisions and design products along the thinking process of the consumers.

Through use of consumer behavior theories for example Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, marketers can understand ways they can develop effective communications that are able to stimulate impulse buying or unplanned buying behavior. By understanding consumer behavior, marketers can be able to identify and develop strategies that can be structured or tailored to influence positive consumer behavior. Understanding consumer behavior is important to marketers because it can help in identifying ways for influencing customers.

1.2      Hennes & Mauritz (H&M)

Hennes and Mautitz (H&M) is a multinational company that has headquarters in Sweden. Hennes is a Swedish word meaning “hers” and specialized in women clothing. The first store for Hennes was opened in 1964, however in 1968 acquired Mauritz Widfors which specialized in men’s clothing to become Hennes & Mauritz (H&M). H&M grew to own eight defined brands namely H&M, COS, Monki, Weekday, & Other Stories, Cheap Monday, H&M Home, ARKET and Afound. The analysis focuses on application of CDMP on Crêpe wrap dress.

1.3       Description of Crêpe wrap dress

Crêpe wrap dress is a high quality product, provided at low cost of GBP 14.99 and is designed from organic cotton hence satisfies sustainability principles. Initially it was made from 98% polyester and 2% spandex. Crêpe wrap dress adopts H&M low price policy. The dress is romantic, casual, and tightly fitted. It has short sleeves, knot-detail sleeves, a wrap-over front with a tie at the waist and asymmetric hem. It is a fashion icon, can be adjusted to fit body shape and “fits anyone”. It does not crease on cold hand wash. Crêpe wrap dress has wrap styling, low surplice V-neck, bodice darts to shape, full flare, and with customizable four different necklines, various sleve types and options for different lengths aimed at suiting customer styles.

Figure 1: Crêpe wrap dress

1.4       Key target customers

The target customers for Crêpe wrap dress are young girls, students, secretaries, bankers, teachers, receptionists, models, house wives, and especially between 20 years and 35 years. The dress fits all wear occasion. The dress is made for office wear, casual wear, outing wear, work attire, and in-door house wear.

1.5       Characteristics of the target customers

Crêpe wrap dress is priced low and as a result, target customers are not price sensitive. The target customers are active, want to become presentable and use dressing to communicate their reliability, and respect. Target customers have psychological feeling of looking professional and portraying feminine characteristics. In particular, women who buy Crêpe wrap dress seek to achieve silhouette or a dressing that gives outline of their body. The dress fits all “occasion wear” and is suitable for women seeking long term partners. The target customers have positive sense of humor. Other target customers include professional actors especially to portray the character.

2.      Decision-making process for the target customers

A number of decisions making processes are made by target customers. In particular, dressing and cloths tell a story and depending on needs and wants of target customer, various decisions are made on perception, and expectations by customer and those who see the customer. Women who would like to demonstrate quality of presentation or making first positive impressions, they wear Crêpe wrap dress to show their work is clean, satisfactory, earn respect and dignity, be seen to be sharp and exact which draws impression of perfectness, reliability and trustworthiness. Target customers make decision on ways the Crêpe wrap dress fits with their personality and dress in Crêpe wrap dress to communicate a personality statement. Bankers especially make decisions on perception of reliability and to communicate sense of stewardship to clients capital investments. The customers especially bankers make decisions on use of dressing to communicate trust, confidence, faith and loyalty. Other customers, especially secretaries and receptionists make decisions on quality of the Crêpe wrap dress especially flattening, wonderful experience, pricing and durability. Within Consumer Decision Making Process, target customers can make decisions on information sources, perceived risks associated with customer satisfaction with use of Crêpe wrap dress, physicial characteristics for example color, length, type of sleeve, bust, waistline, type of neckline as well as fibre content. Other notable decisions include economic factors of customer, social factors of customer like peer dressing and peer fashion trends, laundering qualities, quality – price relationships, class of customer, fitness, silhouette, and complaints associated with post purchase characteristics of Crêpe wrap dress.

3.      Five stages of CDMP

The five stages of CDMP as decision framework include needs and motivation, personality and self concept, perception incusing risks and attitudes. The main five stages of CDMP need recognition, information search (internal search and external search), evaluation of alternatives, situational purchase for example place of purchase like website and environment, and post-purchase behavior.

3.1       CDMP Theoretical Framework analysis of Crêpe wrap dress

The theoretical framework analysis of Crêpe wrap dress CDMP used various consumer behavior theories for example Engel-Kollat-Blackwell (EKB) model of consumer behavior.

3.1.1    Needs and motivation

The need and motivation to buy crêpe wrap dress is initiated by target customer unmet needs. Needs and motivation are stimulated when consumer (a) sees advertisement, (b) sees another customer wearing crêpe wrap dress and looking presentable, (c) simulated feeling about satisfaction with wearing crêpe wrap dress, (d) feedback on satisfaction from customers and (e) as a work dress code. Needs can motivate customer to seek ways for fulfilling the desire or feeling or recognition. In addition, need and motivation can arise from dress code for an occasion for example visiting a friend, a company party, meaning wearing crêpe wrap dress at the function or ceremony receives first priority over mere attending of the function or ceremony. As a result, needs and motivation can have emotional backgrounds, psychological fulfillment or self fulfillment. Needs and motivations from crêpe wrap dress can arise from (a) lack of crêpe wrap dress in the wardrobe, (b) need for new look associated with crêpe wrap dress, (c) influence from husbands or boyfriends, (d) self need to arouse husband or boyfriend especially from belief that men are pleased to see women legs which is supported by Laver’s theory of shifting erogeneous zones in women dress.

3.1.2    Search and evaluation

The search for crêpe wrap dress can be internal search or external search

3.1.2.1 Internal search

Internal search for crêpe wrap dress includes evaluation of alternative solutions to crêpe wrap dress. The customer uses a past experience criterion in order to identify attitudes and experiences that can strengthen motivation to buy crêpe wrap dress. However, each target customer has individual qualities and stimulants for needs and motivation for crêpe wrap dress. Internal search involves identifying color tastes and color preferences, different evaluation of intentions for use, fitness of the dress to meet target customer use expectations, evaluation of fitness. Internal search and evaluation includes comparing prices. Although crêpe wrap dress is priced low, target customers evaluate prices for quality and value for money. Due to convergence of quality expectations, color and similarities in design, internal search and evaluation includes cost of caring the dress or garment for example washable garments or dry cleanable garments as well as level of crease resistance. Internal level search and evaluation could include nature of thread because it affects durability and tear, size of seams, nature of buttons, size of buttons, and type of sleeve for example short sleeve or long sleeve as well as design of neckline.

3.1.2.2 External search and evaluation

Target customers use a number of external sources of information on crêpe wrap dress for example mass media, friends like boyfriend and husband or fellow students at school for student customers, personal sources, websites, customer feedbacks in social media like Facebook and Twitter, and other market-dominated sources of information like advertisements, visit to retailers of crêpe wrap dress and browsing feedback of satisfied customers of crêpe wrap dress. External search includes customer talking to friends, sales representatives, visiting store displays and buying product testing magazines. External search and evaluation helps customers to access relevant information that is important towards making informed choices and decisions on customer desired quality of crêpe wrap dress, improve customer ability to gain more satisfaction, and identify any opportunities that could help to save money and achieving value for money.

3.1.3    Purchase process

Purchase process of crêpe wrap dress is characterized by customer store or purchase environment interaction. Purchase process can be increased by two main events where (a) first event is problem oriented because customers visits online shops and retail to make a purchase that can only satisfy perceived customer problem for dress and (b) desire to get money, get away from children and husband, desire to engage in fantasy and final buying and use of the crêpe wrap dress. The final buying decision is based on two perspectives, customer store related factors and customer dress related factors.

Store related factors include location, sales personnel, quality of perceived customer points of contact at point of sale, number of likes on the store in online shopping environment, and ease of access of the store especially for career women who only access stores near them. Store related factors include self-service for customers and assisted service by sales representatives. Product related factors include varieties in design especially neckline, color, sleeve, and nature of tie.

3.1.4    Post purchase evaluation and outcomes

Outcomes of purchase are customer feelings and perception after purchase of crêpe wrap dress. These include consequences of customer decision to buy the dress for example stimulating new customer behavior and stimulating new post purchase evaluation on level of satisfaction. H&M contacting customers with discounts of 20% which make customers to easily make a repeat purchase after difficulties experienced while choosing current brand of H&M, design of crêpe wrap dress and favourite color. Post purchase evaluation is more about reflection of the whole purchase process. In particular, role modeling of crêpe wrap dress has effect of reducing possible counter-arguments which helps to maintain customer focus on the brand and product. Development of CDMP has more interests on customer focal attention, and not on customer peripheral attention, and as a result CDMP can be applied in terms of customer comprehension or customer understanding with regard to sensory stimulus and within context of product design, packaging, color, shape and message.

4.      Situational factors influencing CDMP

There are a number of situational factors that affect CDMP for example ease of navigation of website, communication messages and advertisements, browsing through different online shopping websites. Situational factors include customer involvement with crêpe wrap dress, which pursues or follows modes of marketing that are aligned to decision making of a customer on a product or service expecially exposure of crêpe wrap dress, customer attention to the dress, customer perception of the dress, customer learning of the dress attributes, development of right customer actions through purchases, and post-purchase customer behavior. This is based on funnel theory of customer purchase behavior.

High penetration of broadband internet has shaped ways customers do shopping. Marketers ought to ensure online shopping outlets form best in practice service encounter, and create first positive impression. Online shopping sites offer different impressions of crêpe wrap dress. The exposure involves customer contact with the dress tuch points for example advertisement, news reports about the dress, reviews of customers on the dress, customer experiences. Exposure and contact with dress in online shopping sites is aimed at creating stimulus and impulse to purchase.

Situational motivation is based on funnel ontology. A funnel ontology in purchase decisions is aimed at narrowing customers initial considerations within customer perceived image on dressing in crêpe wrap dress, customer perceived satisfaction and customer ability to perceive and realize value for money, perceived passion and lifestyle fitness of crêpe wrap dress. Through funnel ontology, marketing is designed in such a way that customer is able to weigh options for crêpe wrap dress, and make viable purchase decision and further understand channels that customers can use of make payments. The information on crêpe wrap dress is structured on funnel ontology to ensure realization of push marketing as goal for achieving customer interactive purchase process with crêpe wrap dress. Situational factors in customer decisions include security of online purchase especially due to high risks of cybercrimes. Customers evaluate security certificates of H&M online, and validation of security certificates.

5.      Recommendations

A number of recommendations emerge from the analysis of CDMP on crêpe wrap dress. H&M could invest in selling lifestyle, by integrating personality and lifestyle edge into the current buying process offering. In particular, target customers seek for “looks” yes including seeking cues on ways to use brand to live an entire life which can provide future opportunity to improve customer purchase decision process. Secondly, H&M needs to integrate people role in modeling purchase decisions and purchase choices. H&M could invest in call centers that can provide direct information needs for customers because customers need help and advice. Call center can help to interact with customers and offer customers opportunity to interact with the brand. H&M needs to improve ways customers can find the right product, which can help to reduce problems associated with making right purchase decisions. Exploiting information technology could provide direction for innovation and offer first mover advantages to H&M.

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