One study developed a profile of consumer characteristics according to the level of pre-search decision making they had engaged in for new automobiles. Table below describes the segments. This type of information may be used by the manufacturer and retailer to develop effective promotional strategies such as deciding o the nature of point of purchase materials and the critical selling points to be covered by the salesperson.
Consumer segments classified by level of pre-search decision making for automobiles:
No pre-made decisions
No confidence in the ability to judge a product. Little prior knowledge about product, high educational level, moderately high income, and not satisfied with previous product. Owned many different brands, no expertise in household, and buying the product for a new use.
Pre-made manufacturer decision:
Low confidence in ability to judge product. Low satisfaction with previous product. Many decision makers in household Consumer information user. Low income. Moderate educational level.
Pre-made brand decision
High income. Moderate confidence in ability to judge product. Satisfied with previous brand. Not many decision makers in household. Moderately high level of expertise in household
Pre-made retailer decision
High income. A lot of prior knowledge abut product. Very satisfied with previous brand. Not a consumer information user.
Pre-made brand and retailer decisions:
Low educational level. High confidence in ability to judge product. A lot of prior knowledge about product. Not a consumer information user. Owned few brands. Trades brands every few years.
The result or outcome of internal search and alternative evaluation may be that a consumer (1) makes a decision and proceeds to engage in purchase behavior, (2) is constrained by certain environmental variables (such as a determination that his checking account cannot stand the purchase), or (3) determines that insufficient or inadequate information exists in his memory to make a decision now, so that external search is undertaken.
This refers to the process of obtaining information from other sources in addition to that which can be recalled or memory. Some sources from which such information might be obtained are advertisements, friends, salespeople store displays and product testing magazines.
Types and Sources of Information:
A great variety of information of potential interest to consumer exists in the external environment. Three general categories are (1) information about the existence and availability of various product and service offerings (2) information useful forming evaluative criteria – the standards which are employed to evaluate alternatives, and (3) information on the properties and characteristics of alternatives. In general it appears that the type of information sought depends upon what the consumer already knows. For example when the consumer has little knowledge about available offerings, search effort tends to focus on learning about the existence of alternatives and forming appropriate evaluative criteria. When she feels sufficiently informed in these areas search is likely to be redirected toward learning more about the characteristics of available offerings in order to evaluate them.
In addition to the direct experience of using products themselves consumers gain information form three major areas: (1) marketer dominated sources (2) consumer sources, and (3) neutral sources. Information in marketer dominated channels stems from salespeople packaging and other sources under the control of the marketer. Consumer sources include all these interpersonal communications not under the control of the marketer. Neutral sources include a portion of the mass media, government reports, and publications from independent product testing agencies. These groups are not under the direct control of the marketer.
It appears that although marketer dominated sources may be extensively used in the early stages of product awareness and initial interest personal sources enjoy the most use in later stages of the decision process. The perceived trustworthiness of personal sources is usually cited as a reason for this finding.