What is buying?

Buying is the activity that involves acquiring something of value in exchange for an asset. The acquisition could be goods or/and services. During the buying process, the exchange of value takes place between two or more parties. For instance, if you are offered a present from your relative, it can not be termed “buying” as value exchange is only from one side. Therefore, any form of gifting is not considered buying. The most common medium of exchange to facilitate buying is currency.

Buying and Purchasing are not interchangeable

Buying and purchasing are not the same, buying is only used for immediate consumption of goods or services, while purchasing can be made for resale.

Purchasing is, generally, used by intermediaries and is often in a bulk and is not used by the end consumer. Buying, on the other hand, is used by the end consumer to fulfill the needs.

Process of buying

Every customer goes through a buying process. Even on impulsive purchases, the customer follows the sequence required for the purchase. Thus, a marketer's job is to assist the customer throughout the buying process and formulate the strategy to convert them into sales for the company.

Let us go through the six stages of buying step-by-step.

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

1. Problem recognition

The most significant step is to recognize an area and do an analysis on a point for which the customers will part their dear money. The marketing manager should look to identify the problem statement and do a demand analysis to know the target market and only then come up with the marketing decisions of putting it into the market.

2. Information search

The next process in buying is searching for the information and getting to know the right medium to acquire the product/service. The customers use a multitude of methods which include recommendations from friends, social media advertising, e-commerce websites, word-of-mouth, and so on, to get additional intel on the product that is in consideration.

3. Evaluation of alternatives

The customers always look to compare and know if there are any better alternatives present across the industry. The marketing strategy should be such that the perceived value should be higher than the alternatives present in the market in order to pull the consumer to choose the brand's offerings and position it to be a good buy.  For this, product differentiation can be helpful. It can get done through price differentiation, advertising, features, offer, and so on. Competitor analysis must be done to come up with new product ideas to remain relevant and competitive.  Strategic marketing decisions must be made at the right time of the day/year to generate demand. Distribution channels and distribution decisions can also prove effective to catch the attention.

4. Purchase decision

We know that customer makes up his/her mind to go for a product after the whole evaluation of buying. Even after this, the customer needs to be kept engaged and in the loop with constant reminders, notifications, emails, marketing campaigns, etc. Otherwise, the customer may drop from the whole buying process.

5. Purchase

The next step in the process is "purchase" which means getting the money in exchange for the goods or services. Once a consumer makes up his/her mind to purchase an asset, for instance, home buyers after the home inspection. The real estate agent will consider a down payment facility, pre-approved interest rate on a loan offered by a third-party lender, etc. to acquire the new home. The purchase is made when the consumer is content with the payment facilities.

6. Post-purchase evaluation

The customer purchased the product, but the buying process does not end. The customer will now evaluate if the product meets the expectations. If not, the brand image will be severely hit. Customer satisfaction and delight are of utmost importance for brand building. The key marketing decisions should be to focus on securing long-term repeat orders. Also, they get free advertising with the help of recommendations.

Types of buying situations

There are mainly three buying situations that a consumer considers while buying goods/services:

  1. New purchase: When a customer is a first-time buyer of the product or service, he/she falls under the category of a new purchase.
  2. Modified purchase: Customers often change the attribute of the order to suit their preference. These changes are made once the customers select the product and let the brand know of the specific requirements.
  3. Purchase re-order: The re-order is made when the customer has already used the product and can resonate with the products/services.

Common Mistakes

The common mistake made is interchanging purchasing with buying. Also, many people confuse the buying process to be deemed complete once the payment is received and they don't consider the importance of post-purchase evaluation.

Context and Applications

Buying is a fundamental topic in Marketing and is important for other courses of study like Business Management, Sales and Marketing, Organization Management, and Supply-chain Management.

Practice Problems

1. Which of the following is needed for buying a product or service?

  1. A desire for the product
  2. Ability to pay
  3. Willingness to pay for it
  4. All of the above

Answer: Option d

Explanation: The buying process is completed only once all the above conditions are met. Failure of any single one leads to termination and halts the buying process.

2. Which of the following methods is appropriate to be used to keep the customer involved during the buying process?

  1. Pay-per-click social media advertising
  2. Force selling
  3. Nagging
  4. Stalking

Answer: Option a

Explanation: The appropriate method used to keep the customer involved during the buying process is pay-per-click social media advertising. Advertising done on social media could serve as a gentle reminder for the consumers to come back and reconsider and re-evaluate their buying decision. Many e-commerce portals make use of this to remind the consumer to visit their purchase page again to promote the product.

3. Which of the following is not a type of buying situation?

  1. New purchase
  2. Modified purchase
  3. Purchase re-order
  4. Second-hand purchase

Answer: Option d

Explanation: The buying situation does not take second-hand purchases into account, as the company can not attain value when the product is being handed over to someone else by its user.

4. What is the last stage of the buying process?

  1. Evaluation of alternatives
  2. Purchase decision
  3. Purchase
  4. Post-purchase evaluation

Answer: Option d

Explanation: The buying process continues even after the payment of the product. The post-purchase evaluation is done by the consumer. Only after it is done does the buying process complete its full cycle.

5. Which among the following is not a source of information for the consumer during an information search?

  1. Word-of-mouth
  2. Customer experience
  3. Influencer marketing
  4. Digital marketing

Answer: Option b

Explanation: Customer experience is not a source of information for the consumer during information search.

  • Purchasing
  • Acquisition
  • Consumption
  • B2B Marketing

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