Purchase Decision: Step Four in Making a Purchase

Purchase Decision: Step Four in Making a Purchase

We finally made it to the actual purchase decision! If you’re just coming into this series, you’ve missed quite a bit. You may want to catch up on problem recognition, the information search, and evaluation of alternatives. Or you could just read this post; we aren’t trying to tell you how to live your life.

It has been a long time coming, you’ve finished evaluating all of your alternatives and are ready to make a purchase. The decision you are about to make is dependent upon all of the information you have gathered in the previous steps and the opinions you have formed along the way. But wait, there are still things that can affect your decision.

There are two different factors that can disrupt your decision at this point: the attitudes of others and unanticipated situational factors.

Let’s go back to my seven-year-old self trying to purchase a candy bar. Just as I’m reaching for a Reese’s Sticks, I hear another kid exclaim, “Come on, Mom! Let me have the Reese’s Minis–they’re the best candy in the WORLD!” At that point, I’m reconsidering my decision. Even though I thought I wanted Reese’s Sticks, hearing that Reese’s Minis are someone else’s favorite candy makes me think they might be the tastier option.

This is a great example of how the attitudes of others can disrupt your decision. Their attitude, whether positive or negative, can have the ability to sway your purchase decision in a completely different direction, regardless of the information gathered in previous steps.

Unanticipated situational factors can also influence your decision. These factors can be anything from your shopping experience to a sale, or even something like losing your job unexpectedly.

Again, I’m seven years old and about to purchase Reese’s Sticks when I notice Wild Berry Skittles are on sale. Being very savvy with my money for such a young age, I contemplate how much I really want those Reese’s Sticks. Is it really worth 50 more cents? I could use that money to try to win a stuffed animal in the claw machine on the way out. The sale on Wild Berry Skittles threw a wrench in my purchase decision.


The examples used in this post were both low involvement decisions as they are more likely to be swayed at the last minute. With higher involvement decisions, you’ve most likely done more research, meaning your mind is set. However, there is still a slight chance of disruption.

Larger purchase decisions are also generally made up of multiple sub-decisions such as choosing the brand, store, quantity, timing, and payment method. Those sub-decisions are much more likely to be affected than the overall decision of what you’re purchasing.

Now that we’ve covered the actual purchase decision, you probably think this series is done. That you’ve learned everything you need to know about the consumer purchase decision process. Well, you’re wrong. There’s still one more step: post-purchase evaluation.

Oh, and if you’re curious, my seven-year-old self went with Reese’s Sticks.

Katie Breight
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