Paschal Agonsi

Buyer Behaviour

woman grocery shopping

We are in business to satisfy customer needs. Understanding buyer behaviour will help us understand our customers better and prepare us for business success. Based on consumer research by Philip Kotler, there are five stages of buyer/customer behaviour that cuts through any product/service or business offering.

Here’s the five stages of buyer/customer behaviour

  1. Problem recognition
  2. Information search
  3. Evaluation of alternatives
  4. Purchase decision
  5. Post purchase behaviour

1. Problem Recognition

Pocarti Digital Active Marketing

Problem Recognition is the first stage in understanding buyer behaviour. If a customer doesn’t recognise he has a problem or need, we can predict that his behaviour towards your product won’t be encouraging. The customer must recognise a problem or need before he desires to make a purchase, and it’s your job to help them to.

Most marketing campaigns begin by outlining a customer needs.  Kotler says the buyer must “sense a difference between his or her actual state and a desired state.’ The need is triggered by internal such as hunger, thirst or external stimuli such as sight and smell.

Needs can be triggered by external stimuli such as sight and smell (of freshly baked bread).

The smell of freshly baked bread or admiration of a neighbour’s new car or a commercial for a Carribbean holiday are stimuli that can trigger needs.  All of these stimuli can lead a customer to recognise a problem or need.

As entrepreneurs, our work is to understand how to trigger a particular need or interest in pur customers.  It’s important to research customers to find out:

  1. What kinds of needs or problems arise
  2. What brought about them
  3. How they led to this particular product

Problem recognition is the basic and most fundamental aspect of customer behaviour that we must perfectly understand to achieve business success.

2. Information Search

The major sources of information that a customer will turn to should be of key interest to entrepreneurs.  A customer who has identified a need, will immediately that looking for where to get information about Products/services that will satisfy his/her needs/problems.

These days, the internet, Google, is now a major source of information. If your business isn’t online, you may be losing a good platform to be actively engaging your customers. offers digital active solutions for brands and businesses at affordable rates.

The information a customer gets about your business is critical. Customers or consumers may also turn to friends or advertising to find product information. It’s important to have favourable opinions of your business to be able to gain a positive consumer attention.

3. Evaluation of Alternatives

Customers have to always decide the bestor suitable choice among available market options

We have seen how customers source information.  When faced with various choices, a consumer will have to make a decision on the best alternative. Unfortunately, there’s no simple or single evaluation process used by all customers or even one in all buying situations.

Most evaluation revolves mainly around Product attributes, Utility functions, and Brand beliefs/

Product attributes refer to the various features of your product amongst other alternatives. For example, when buying phones or computers we often look at memory capacity, battery life, graphic quality, software availability, warranty. The product that scores highest in these attributes is often the winner

Utility functions, according to Kotler, refers to ‘how the consumer expects product satisfaction from the product attributes.’  For example, a consumer may be more concerned with a phone’s battery life compared to graphic quality and thus, make a buying decision to gain more value from this alone.

Brand beliefs also affect buying decisions. A consumer can pick a brand A over brand B due to brand perception even though brand B offers a much better product and at a better price.

4. Purchase Decision

After the evaluation stage, the consumer makes a purchase decision. This decision is invariably affected by the attitudes of others, situational factors and perceived risk.

Attitude of others is critical to one’s purchase decision due to our social behavior. It’s important to note that a buyer’s preference for a brand will increase if someone he/she likes favours the brand. The reverse is the case if others speak against the brand.

Situational factors such as expected income, expected price and expected benefits affect purchase decisions.

Lastly, perceived risk plays an important role as many purchases involve risk taking. When customers can’t be sure about the outcome of your products, it creates anxiety. How you handle this, affects buying decision. Some brands use strategies such as money back guarantee, free trials to eliminate this risk. You can do this as well, if it fits your strategy.

5. Post Purchase Behaviour

Customer loyalty is a key ingredient to business success. Understanding post purchase behavior is critical to a business long lasting success. Here’s two important behavior we must watch:

  • How customers use your products: Customers can also find new uses for your product. It’s important to monitor this and use it to strengthen your product benefits list
  • How customers dispose your products:  Customers either keep or get rid of your product either temporarily or permanently


Understanding consumer needs and buying behaviour is essential to business success. By understanding how buyers go through problem recognition, information sources, evaluation of alternatives, the purchase decision and post-purchase behaviour, releases a wealth of information that can help entrepreneurs gain an advantage in any market.

Our jobs as entrepreneurs is to understand buyer behaviour at each stage and what influences are operating for or against our business success.  I am positive if we put this information to use, we can grow our business tremendously.




Follow Paschal Agonsi on Social Media: