As the consumer is engaged in search activity, he or she is also actively engaged in information evaluation. Evaluation involves those activities undertaken by the consumer to appraise carefully, on the basis of certain criteria, alternative solutions to market related problems. The search process determines what the alternatives are, and in the evaluation process they are compared so that the consumer is ready to make a decision.
Evaluative or Choice Criteria
A consumer evaluates a brand on the basis of a number of choices criteria. These criteria are the standards and specifications. The consumer uses in evaluating products and brands. They define the preferred product / brand features that a consumer seeks in a purchase and may be either objective or subjective in nature. Thus, a new car buyer may have in mind certain objective characteristics when purchasing such as mileage and engine characteristics. There may be other criteria which are subjective, however, such as the social class image projected with the car.
Evaluative criteria may vary from one consumer to another. For example when purchasing a food processor, one buyer may be most concerned about electric motor horsepower, blade revolution per minute and safety. Another shopper however, may use a different set of evaluation criteria including color and style of the processor durability warranty and versatility still another shopper may use only price as a criterion.
No matter how many criteria are evaluated by the consumer they are likely to differ in their importance usually with one or two criteria being more important than others. Thus, while several evaluative criteria are salient (important) to the consumer, some are determinant (they are most important and are also perceived to differ among the alternatives). Some refer to a determinant attribute which meets both of these conditions for a consumer as a critical attribute. That is, critical attribute is the most determinant attribute for that consumer. For instances in the purchase of running shoes, brand name quality, price , and comfort may all be important to a buyer but comfort is likely to have determinacy for most runners. Notice, that in case a subjective factor is considered to be most important.
The marketer should be careful in assuming however, that a certain feature ranked as most important by consumers is actually determinant. For instance, a recent study asked airline passengers travel industry professionals’ premium and incentive marketers and university students to identify out of a list of seventeen of the top five criteria they used for choosing an airline for businesses and non-business travel. For business travel, top ranking criteria included departure and arrival times (87%) fares (63%) past experience (57%) itinerary routing (50 %) frequent flyer program (47%) terminal location (37%) and safety cord (30%). For non business travel, the criteria are fares. (93%) departure and arrival times (63%) past experience (60 %) frequent flyer program (43%) itinerary routing (41%), safety record (32%) and terminal location (32%). Although departure and arrival times fares, and past experience are very important for both types of travel, the airline exhibit very little difference on these factors .Consequently these factors are not determinant attributes for passengers. Rather than spending heavily to promote attributes than passengers view as important but similar airline marketers, instead might promote a factor such as safety on which important differences are perceived by consumers. Consumers’ awareness of recent major aircraft crashes can affect their perceptions of airline safety and passengers – particularly the safety sensitive segment might be promoted to with effective ads, not about crash records but information on maintenance plane type age, and mileage and the age and training of crew. United airlines have run an effective ad featuring its maintenance programs.