The consumer purchasedecision process

In their 2004 book titled Consumer Behaviour, Leon Schiffman and Leslie Kanuk define the term as the behaviour that consumers display in searching for, purchasing, using, evaluating and disposing of products and services that they expect to satisfy their needs. This means, in other words, how consumers make decisions to spend their available resources (time, money and effort) on consumption-related items (products and services). Further scrutiny of this definition shows the following aspects of the behaviour of consumers, presented in their hierarchy of influence:

1 What they buy (Products and Services)

2 Why they buy (Needs, Wants, Desires)

3 When they buy (Convenience)

4 Where they buy (Location)

5 How they buy (Channel)

6 How often they buy (Frequency)

7 How often they use the products (Relevance)

8 How they evaluate the products (After-Purchase)

9 How they dispose of the products (Durability) 10 How they decide future purchase (Loyalty)

This analysis can be applied to any category of goods, but since this book is concerned with luxury fashion goods, it will be related to the luxury goods sector. Each of the points above are further expanded according to the requirements of luxury goods:

1 What consumers buy Luxury consumers buy more than luxury products and services. They buy a complete package of experiences, feelings and identities made up of the product, the service and the brand's characteristics.

2 When consumers buy Luxury consumers purchase luxury goods whenever the opportunity arises. Luxury goods purchases often don't result from convenience as they are constantly desired and often fall within the priority of luxury consumers.

3 Why consumers buy Luxury consumers do not buy luxury fashion goods when they are required because the desire for luxury goods is not fuelled by basic needs. Luxury products are 'cravings' and sometimes 'wishes', rather than functional needs, therefore there is a continuous yearning to possess them. Luxury goods are objects of desire and desires exist on a continuous basis.

4 Where consumers buy Luxury consumers buy their products mainly in major fashion centres of the world where luxury fashion is prominent in consumer lifestyles.

5 How consumers buy The majority of luxury consumers prefer to shop in the physical stores in order to benefit from a complete product selection and also enjoy the luxury retail atmosphere. However, other shopping channels such as the Internet and Mobile shopping are gaining increasing influence in the luxury arena and consumers are continuously shopping through these channels.

6 How often consumers buy Luxury consumers buy luxury goods as frequently as is practically and financially possible for them. They often do not evaluate the buying decision of luxury goods on a logical basis. As previously indicated, luxury goods are objects of desire, meaning that if consumers can help it, they would fulfil this desire on a continuous basis.

7 How often consumers use the products Luxury goods are highly relevant to consumers as a stamp of their personalities and lifestyles. As a result, the products are used frequently.

8 How consumers evaluate the products The post-purchase evaluation of luxury products is almost a non-representational occurrence. This is because the appreciation of luxury goods extends beyond the products' functional attributes to include abstract and symbolic benefits. As a result, the evaluation focus is on the role of the luxury product in the life of the consumer and the satisfaction that it provides. Since the symbolic role of luxury products is continuous, their post purchase evaluation remains immaterial.

How consumers dispose of the products Luxury goods traditionally last for a lifetime and are rarely disposed of. However, an interesting occurrence has developed in the luxury goods sector in the last five years that has made luxury goods disposable. This occurrence is called the 'fast-fashion' phenomenon later discussed in Chapter 7 of this book. Fast fashion means that the design turnover of luxury products has become higher and the product lifecycles have become shorter. As a result, the 'It' fashion items change every few weeks. Consumers in a bid to keep up have also become smart and savvy in their luxury goods purchase cycle. They now sell their 'used' or 'semi-used' products for substantial amounts (sometimes close to the original price tag) in order to purchase new ones. Several second-hand dealers who trade in these items are cropping up in different global markets. This factor, however, does not diminish the value of the products or their brands.

How consumers decide on future purchases The decision for the future purchase of luxury goods has already been made. The future is now!

To further illustrate the decision-making process of consumers, Schiffman and Kanuk identified three main levels of influence which is illustrated in Figure 3.2.

The Input stage is mainly influenced by the strategies behind the marketing mix such as the product, pricing, retail channels and promotions. Other influencing factors are branding elements like the brand personality, brand image and brand awareness; and social groups like family, friends and colleagues.

The Process stage operates on a more intangible level, characterized by psychological and emotional elements such as perception, personality, attitude, and motivation.

The Output stage involves the use, evaluation and disposal of the goods.

OT C

CO CD

Schiffman Kanuk Attitude

Figure 3.2 The three influential levels of the consumer decision-making process

Source: Adapted from Schiffman and Kanuk, 2004.

Figure 3.2 The three influential levels of the consumer decision-making process

Source: Adapted from Schiffman and Kanuk, 2004.

A close examination of the model indicates that consumer evaluation of luxury goods purchases and use takes place mainly on the Input and Process stages. This is because of the highly aesthetic and symbolic nature of luxury brands. This fact does not, however, mean that the Output stage is irrelevant, but the elements of the Output stage feature on a minimal level.

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