Anil is a new customer for a car. He does not know what to look for, and how to evaluate the different brands or models available in the country. He turns to his friend, Arun Joshi who has been a car owner for over ten years, his brother in law and a neighbour who works for a car dealership, for advice. They tell him to look for fuel efficiency, space for passenger and luggage safety features, after sales service of the dealer or the manufacturer, manoeuvrability in small areas and parking lots, driving comfort, availability of roadside repair and maintenance facilities and finally the financing options. All advised him that fuel efficiency should be the most critical factor in his choice. After reading some articles on automobiles and having talked to some more friends, Anil prioritized these factors in the following way.
In the development of decision criteria, a customer consults his or her friends, relatives and others whom he or she perceives to be experts in the knowledge about the product. In a way, the customer considers them as opinion leaders. The customer may even read specialized printed material, like journals or magazines on a particular product.
Having developed a decision criterion, Anil now looks for alternative brands, models, and dealers. He looks for advertisement in the newspaper and magazines, hoardings or billboards, news articles and also consults the yellow pages. They all come to the following conclusions:
- The oldest brand or model on road is the Hindustan Motors’ “Ambassador” and the Premier Automobiles, Premier Padmini.
- Premier Automobiles does not produce cars anymore.
- Hindustan Motors has revamped the Ambassador but is no more being bought by individual/families. It has a tie up with General Motors, who have introduced Opel in two variants – Astra for a high end market and Corsa for the middle level market. Ford has two models, Escort and Ikon. Honda, Hyundai, Telco, Toyota, Fiat, and Maruti Udyog are other car manufacturers.
- The largest number of models are from Maruti Udyog.
- Each of these car manufacturers, having multiple dealers located in different parts of the city.
- There are used car dealers also, some of whom market new vehicles also. They were sub-dealers of main leaders. Unlike the latter who have exclusive arrangements with car manufacturers, these sub dealers are multi brand outlets and hence offer a wide choice to the customer.
- Financing is available at all dealer outlets. Various plans are being offered from installment plans to hire purchase or leasing.
In this case, we see that the customer is actively engaged in a search for alternatives and has used the media or other social channels, to collect all the relevant.
Now Anil evaluates all the above alternatives on the decision criteria he has evolved, and gives weightage to each brand and model on the parameters selected by him. Here, Anil also considers another factor, like the resale value of the car after three years. He also keeps in mind, his tax obligation and the monthly expenditure that he will have to incur to maintain the car. At this juncture, Anil and his family also look for a specific colour and showroom delivery, as they do not want to wait.
After weighting all the parameters, Anil comes to the conclusion that a dark grey Maruti Esteem VX is the car for him and his family.
This decision, may change at the time of purchase, either because of non-availability of a specific model and colour, change in the interest rate, or any change in the external environment.
An evoked set consists of the alternative a customer is aware of and considers, in selecting a brand. In any product group, there are numerous brands that are competing with each other. This is the total set. It is not necessary that the customer is aware of all of them. Generally, the human mind can take in only three names. This is then the awareness set. It is not necessary that all the brands that the customer is aware of will be considered for buying. All those brands that are considered are a part of the consideration set and the brand decided is the decision set. Normally, the purchase should be of this brand only. But it may change because of competition activity at purchase outlets or due to the non-availability of the selected brand at the purchase outlet.
By their very nature, low involvement products are ones, where the customer spends least time in searching for alternatives or for that matter in evolving decision.
Since the products are low on cost and risk and do not reflect a customer’s personality, the customer spends little time in evaluating the brands. Moreover, since there are little or no major differences perceived among the alternatives often, the basis for evaluation are price, taste, size, and packaging. Consider, the example of buying toothpaste or tomato ketchup. The time that we spend in buying it is the time taken in picking it up from the shelf.
This consumers decision making processes differ across products groups.