MKG310 – Introduction to Marketing
November 23, 2014
Marketing and The Consumer Decision Process I knew I wanted to do something really special for my mother, but wasn’t sure exactly what. My father had passed away and it was time for my mom to start coming out of the weepy state in which she was living. While browsing through a copy of Bon Appetit magazine, a certain article caught my eye that was not solely about food. The article’s title and images featured food, but other aspects, like the words “wellness” and “luxury,” appealed to my higher senses. Although oblivious at the time, I later realized that the article turned my search for something special into a need for the perfect spa vacation with my mom.
Step 1: Need Recognition
I found myself in the very first stage of what marketing scholars identify as “The Consumer Decision Process.” Authors Grewal and Levy (2014), explain this five stage model as “the steps that consumers go through before, during, and after making purchases” (p. 175). While I was browsing the magazine, in the midst of the need recognition phase, the marketing team at Lake Austin Spa (LAS) had already worked their magic to entice me, the highly studied, somewhat predictable consumer. At the end of the magazine article, LAS appealed to my functional needs by boasting about their many awards and accolades from various travel publications. Their high ratings from past guests appealed to my desire for a spa with superior accommodations and service. The brochure I requested highlighted experiences that appealed to my psychological needs with phrases like “Feel the warm embrace of an environment dedicated to the rejuvenation of your body and mind” (Lake Austin Spa Resort, 2014, p. 5).
Step 2: Information Search Still, even with the persuasive marketing of LAS, before deciding to book a vacation there, I went on to the second step of the consumer decision process and searched for more information. I had few past experiences to help me in evaluating this type of vacation, so to fill this personal knowledge gap, I looked to external sources. When I asked friends and travel agencies for advice, Lake Austin Spa made sure to be present. They understood that “word-of-mouth information is one of the most relied-upon sources of information for destination selection” (Stanciu & Ţichindelean, 2010). The travel agency I consulted not only knew about the spa, but had special packages to offer when booking a stay through their company. Their offer of spa service vouchers and a gift of beauty products enticed me to seriously consider Lake Austin Spa Resort over its competitors.
Step 3: Alternative Evaluation While in the information search phase, I also entered into another phase of the decision process called alternative evaluation. I considered other destination spas such as Rancho La Puerta, Miraval and Canyon Ranch. To make sure it came out on top, Lake Austin Spa had already taken steps to become a part of my retrieval set, a company that I could easily recall when discussing spa options with others. Once I knew about the spa, I began to notice more advertisements and articles featuring LAS while looking through various travel publications. When going online to perform research, the resort made sure to appear on the first page of Google’s search results. Also, Lake Austin Spa made sure to differentiate itself from the competition. In an interview, their director of sales and marketing stated, “Our tagline, ‘A world class spa with the warmth of a best friend’s lake house,’ speaks to the difference between Lake Austin Spa Resort and other destination spas” (Zable, 2006, p.68). The spa’s communication of this aspect spoke to the determinate attributes I sought which included a relatively small property and cozy atmosphere.
Step 4: Purchase
To convert my positive evaluation of Lake Austin Spa into a purchase, the company used a few different