In formulating your marketing plan it is important to understand what triggers the consumers buying response. Why would or should they buy from you? Earlier we discussed how it is basically a case of recognising their needs and wants, but let’s now investigate further. The following table describes the process consumers go through when deciding to make a purchase. In this post I will address the first stage or problem recognition.
Problem recognition – At this stage the customer identifies a need or want which requires a solution. As an example the ‘need’ could be hunger and the ‘want’ relates to how the customer chooses to meet that need. To satisfy the hunger a customer has a huge range of foods to choose from and it is the job of marketing to build demand for particular wants and influence choices. There are three categories of purchases used to satisfy a need or want.
● Routine – Everyday items such as bread milk and fuel.
● Impulse – Items purchased which are not really needed. Have you ever gone shopping and came home with something totally unexpected? I once went grocery shopping with my wife and came home with a 65 inch LCD TV. I’m still wondering what happened!
● Specific – Purchases required immediately to resolve a problem. As an example you may have lost power supply to your house and you would immediately call an electrician before the food spoiled in your refrigerator.
Question – What problem does your product or service solve for consumers?
Question – How are you letting your customers know you can help them?
Question – What purchase category is your product or service?
It is important to reflect on the answers you have provided to the above questions. Often small business owners start a business based around their hobbies or interest with the mistaken belief that their products or services will appeal to everyone. Just because you like what you sell doesn’t mean everyone else will. You must be sure that your offering provides a solution to a large enough section of consumers to ensure a sustainable business. Equally important is to correctly identify what purchase category your products or services fall under. Doing so will assist you to fine tune and correctly target your marketing campaign.
Let’s take impulse purchases as an example. Your marketing plan must be far more concentrated and creative than that required for routine purchases. Why? – because you are trying to convince someone to buy something they don’t really need. With impulse purchases in particular, you need to understand the psychological, environmental and social-cultural factors which drive the buying decision. Think about the reasons someone would want to purchase a BMW, Italian shoes or a Rolex watch. What message does this send to the purchaser’s family, friends and peers? What feelings are being aroused in the buyer? You can argue that these products are a ‘want’ but I would argue that they can also meet a need. That need may be to appear or feel affluent, powerful and successful. This is where your marketing must be targeted.
Routine purchases are easier to market because you are addressing basic physiological needs such as hunger, thirst, shelter, security etc. Consumers will always routinely buy bread but should they choose white, brown or multigrain? In this scenario competition is high and marketers fight to create demand for their products. With specific purchases the consumer often does not have the time or flexibility of decision provided by the other purchase categories. Imagine you are out in the middle of nowhere and your car battery goes flat. The kids are whining, the air conditioning is not working and your wife’s giving you the evil eye. Are you going to shop around for the best price and carry out extensive research? Of course not! The point I’m making is that before you can develop an effective marketing plan you must know what problem your products or services solve and your customers purchase decision process.