I have spent years and a lot of effort figuring out why and how people buy products. Values are the key driver behind the “why” and they have always been at the core of our offerings. But the human decision process is complex and often even seems random.

But it’s not. It’s just six steps. So let’s take a walk with a mythical Bill as he goes through the process of buying a car.

Step 1: Context

The context is the specific need-state that drove Bill to want to buy a car

  • Bill is a 48 year old father with teenagers and carpool duty
  • His current car is old and becoming unreliable
  • He needs to buy a new car with enough space to hold the children and their sports equipment

Contenders – by type:

  • Minivan
  • Midsize or large SUV

Step 2: Mission

What outcome is Bill is looking to achieve with this new purchase?

  • Bill wants to buy a car that does not make him feel old

Remaining Contenders – by type:

  • Midsize or large SUV

Step 3: Values

Values are the core set of relevant beliefs, opinions, biases, and preferences that are guiding principles on our lives that shape how we judge a brand or a product.

  • Bill wants to show others that he’s been successful
  • He also wants to make sure he can keep his family safe in an accident

Remaining Contenders –by model:

  • Acura MDX, Audi Q5 Hybrid, Audi Q7 TDI, BMW X5, Infiniti JX, Lexus RX & GX, Mercedes-Benz ML & GL, Porsche Cayenne, Volvo XC90

Step 3 (continued): Values

  • Backs up his concerns about climate change and show the importance if this value to his kids

Remaining Contenders –by model:

  • Audi Q5 Hybrid, Audi Q7 TDI, Lexus RX Hybrid, Mercedes-Benz ML Diesel, Porsche Cayenne Hybrid

Step 4: Past Behavior

How does the collective outcome of, and satisfaction with previous purchases and brand choices affect future purchasing decisions?

  • Bill has owned a sports car and sedan, and now owns a station wagon. Bill’s previous purchases have all been V6 models from luxury brands. He was happy with his previous choice of V6 engines and would like his next car to also have a V6 engine.

Remaining Contenders –by model:

  • Audi Q7 TDI, Lexus RX Hybrid, Mercedes-Benz ML Diesel, Porsche Cayenne Hybrid

Step 5: Engagement

This is where Bill fills his gaps in knowledge about these cars by doing research and refining the competitive set to the final few models.

  • Bill always evaluates multiple options before making a decision
  • Bill reads blogs & discussion boards to see what others thought after a few months with the car
    • User Reviews
    • JD Power Customer Satisfaction
    • Edmunds.com People’s Choice Award

Remaining Contenders –by model:

  • Audi Q7 TDI, Lexus RX Hybrid, Porsche Cayenne Hybrid

Step 6: Purchase Orientation

Does Bill typically buy products from brands he trusts, does he choose the cheapest option or the most convenient one?

  • Bill buys from name brands that he knows and trusts
  • In order to keep things in check, Bill sets a strict budget before walking into the showroom
  • These special offers get the Q7 to fit within his budget
    • Special Factory to Dealer incentives
    • 0% Financing

Remaining Contenders –by model:

  • Audi Q7 TDI

We believe it is very important for marketers to speak with consumers differently at every stage of the process and we at Resonate can work closely with marketers to make this happen. . For more inspiration on check out all the details in our our white paper Why We Buy Understanding & Influencing Purchase Decisions.