Situations leading to Problem Recognition

Planning problems occur when the problem occurrence is expected but an immediate solution is not necessary. For instance a consumer who expects that his care will only last one additional year may begin to engage in window shopping for autos, have discussions with friends about various brands, and pay closer attention to automotive ads. Panning problems are the type that can lead to purchase of pre-need goods and services, which are brought in anticipation of being used in the future, generally after a significant time lag. Sometimes the ability to put off a purchase may lead to more complicated and difficult purchasing problems later or even inability to purchase at all. For example, life insurance cannot be bought by someone diagnosed with terminal cancer. Examples of pre-used services include insurance (life, auto, house, liability and health) pre-paid legal services, extended automobile warranties, funeral services, pre-paid college tuition, interval vacation ownership time sharing, and retirement plans. Because consumers may not seek out these services marketers have developed strategies to target consumers before the need arises.

Evolving situations occur when the problem is unexpected but no immediate solution is required. The fashion adoption process illustrates this case. Fashion adoption ordinarily occurs over a lengthy period of time for many consumers. Although one may become aware of the new fashion item’s existence, there may be no initial desire to own that item. Over time, as the innovation spreads and more consumers buy the item, a discrepancy between the consumer’s desired and actual state may develop and increase. At some point the consumer may purchase the fashion innovation. Thus, the diffusion of an innovative often involves the situation of evolving problems.

There are numerous situations that may cause consumer problem recognition to occur. Although discussion of all of the potential sources is impossible we can present the most significant reasons and explain briefly how each one might arise.

Depleted or inadequate stock of goods

These are probably the most frequent reasons for consumers recognizing problems. In the first situation, the consumer uses up the assortment of goods she has and must repurchase in order to re-supply her needs. As long as there still is a basic need for the item, problem recognition should result from its consumption. The most obvious purchasing situations which result from this are caused by consumers running out of groceries gasoline, health and grooming aids, and other similar convenience goods.

Sometimes the consumer’s stock of goods is inadequate for even her everyday needs an may require a purchase. For instance, she may want to install a bracket for hanging planter but finds that she doesn’t have the necessary tools such as a ruler, a drill and screwdriver.

Discontentment with the stocks of goods

Frequently, consumers become discontented with products they own, and this leads to problem recognition. For example, men’s ties and jacket lapels narrow and widen as fashion cycles progress. Consequently men may feel their clothing is no longer stylish, and they may desire to update their wardrobes. Even though the old clothes might be perfectly serviceable, they may be an embarrassment to wear. As a result, this problem is resolved by purchasing some of the latest fashions.

The consumer’s dissatisfaction with her present assortment of goods can also arise as the result of other decisions. For instance, consider the case of a family that remodels their twenty year old home. After the work is completed and the house looks new again, then comes the letdown and dissatisfaction of having to move all the family’s old hand me down furniture into the newly decorated rooms. The result of this problem recognition may be the purchase of new furniture to go with the remodeled house.

Finally, the consumer may simply search or something new and different, to break out of a rut. Problem recognition in this case is really founded on variety seeking behavior or the desire to do something novel for a change one research study on new product adoption has shown. For example, that one third of those switching to anew brand did so simply because they desired a change, not because they were dissatisfied with their present brand.