Gucci is one of the world’s well-known luxury brands and is recognized the world over for its fashion innovation and flawless Italian craftsmanship (Gucci, 2015). It started with handbags in 1921 and kept on being innovative and has since then created several different products where the Gucci perfume is among one of them.
Gucci has developed a wide range of different perfumes and fragrances both for women and men. The price range goes from approximately 70 dollars to about 200 dollars according to size and fragrance (Gucci, 2015).
It is important to recognize the importance of understanding your consumers and which factors that affect them in their decision making process. Consumers make decisions concerning choice, purchase and the use of products all the time. These decisions are important for the consumers as well as for the marketers (Bettman, Johnson & Payne, 1991). Therefore, this essay will go through the five stages of the consumer decision making process and analyse the internal and situational factors that influences this process.
The five stages of consumer decision making process
Normally a consumers go through five stages in their decision making process. These five stages are problem recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, product choice, and outcomes (Solomon, Russell Bennett & Previte, 2009). The problem recognition is the first step. This step appears when there is an imbalance between the consumer’s actual situation and the desired situation (Lamb et al., 2013). In this case, the consumer recognizes the need for a new perfume, but before the consumer will make the purchase of a new perfume she might go through the remaining four steps.
The next step is information search where the consumer will search for both internal and external information about the product. The amount of information the consumer needs in addition to the external information search depends, among other things, on the risk in connection to the purchase, how much you know about the product and the level of interest. The greater the risk the more information is needed, and the less you know about a product the more you need to find out (Lamb et al., 2013). The purchase of a perfume contains a very low level of risks compared to the purchase of for example a car or a house. Therefore, the purchase of a Gucci perfume does not need that much information search. However, this still depends on the consumer’s situation and whether it is the first time for the consumer to buy an expensive perfume or if the consumer is used to buy this perfume. Then it will be a habitual decision making which does not call for a big effort or involvement in the decision making (Solomon, Russell Bennett & Previte, 2009).
When sufficient information has been found, the consumers will then evaluate the alternatives by analysing the products attributes, use cut of criteria, and rank the attributes by importance (Lamb et al., 2013). In this case, the consumer will, among other things, compare different brands of perfume, the fragrance and the price. The alternatives which are actively considered during the decision making, for example different brands of perfume, are called the evoked set (Solomon, Russell Bennett & Previte, 2009). The size of the evoked set is in connection to perfumes big because the range of different perfumes and brands is so large.
The next step is the product choice. In this step the consumers have determined which attributes that are the most important for their choice. In addition to the Gucci perfume, the consumer will find out that it is more expensive than other perfumes. This is a poor performance on that attribute. However, this poor attribute will be compensated by quality performance on others. The consumer of a Gucci perfume will care more about the fact that Gucci is a name brand and has more appealing fragrances. This is a compensatory rule for the choice of a product (Solomon, Russell Bennett & Previte, 2009).
The final step is the outcomes of the purchase. The question here is whether the consumer feels satisfied with the purchase or if the consumer experiences cognitive dissonance. If the consumer is happy about the product it can lead to brand loyalty, but if the consumer is dissatisfied with the product it can lead the consumer to return the product and thereby the purchase will not be completed after all (Solomon, Russell Bennett & Previte, 2009).
The internal factors that affect the process is, among other things, needs and motivation, personality and self-concept, attitudes and involvement (Solomon, Russell Bennett & Previte, 2009).
Consumers experience different levels of involvement and therefore differ in the extent of their decision making process, depending on what product they are dealing with (Laurent and Kapferer, 1985). Routine decisions demand less involvement than extensive decision making. So as mention before, if you are used to bye perfumes from Gucci the five stages of decisions making will not demand any particularly involvement and the consumer might not even go through all five stages but skips directly to the purchase (Lamb et al., 2013). On the other hand, a consumer who is not used to by Gucci perfumes will show a higher level of involvement and go through some or all of the five stages. However, even though the purchase of a Gucci perfume can seem like a big deal for some consumers, the level of involvement cannot be compared to the level of involvement you will find in the process of purchasing a car or a house. In these cases there will be a very high level of involvement because the purchase contains a much bigger risk and therefore the consumer will go through all of the stages in the decisions making process.
Personality and self-concept are two individual factors that influence the decision making process. Personality can be described as a person’s unique psychological structure that results in more of less consistent patterns of behaviour and response (Solomon, Russell Bennett & Previte, 2009). Self-concept is how consumers perceive themselves in addition to attitudes and perception (Lamb et al., 2013).
As described in the introduction, Gucci is a luxury brand and therefore more expensive than many similar brands and products. The same goes for the Gucci perfume. Personality, self-concept and attitude especially influence the evaluation of alternatives and the choice of product. The consumers of a luxury product like a Gucci perfume find social class and status an important factor. They see themselves as someone who follows the trends and has a posh lifestyle. This leads them to choose the luxury Gucci perfume in preference to non-luxury and cheaper brands. In this way, personality, self-concept and attitudes of the consumers affect the decision making process.
Likewise, needs and motivation are two factors that influences the decision making process. A way to describe a person’s needs and motivation is through Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (Maslow, 1943). A consumer’s needs and motivation influence the decision making process in different ways, depending on which step in the pyramid the consumers find themselves. The above description of the consumers of a Gucci perfume shows that they find themselves under the esteem needs where self-esteem, recognition and status are important factors and that motivates them to evaluate and make certain choices in the decision making process.
Situational factors influence the decision making process just as well as internal factors do. Today perfume is often associated with beauty and seduction. When you smell a certain perfume it may evoke certain memories both good and bad (Albano et al., 2010). Perfume consumers exert themselves to have good looks and are therefore willing to invest for that (Fah, Foon and Osman, 2011). A specific perfume can generate certain feelings and moods which are situational factors that influence the decision making process. Physical surroundings also affect the consumer behaviour according to store location, music, smells and aromas (Solomon, Russell Bennett & Previte, 2009). Since the consumers of Gucci perfumes find luxury important the retail environment needs to reflect this luxury as well.
Conclusion and recommendations
Seeing that both internal and situational factors influence the consumer decision making process it is important for Gucci’s marketers to consider all of this. Gucci need to make sure that their products live up to their consumer’s expectations. As said, Gucci is a luxury brand and attracts certain types of consumers to their stores and website. These consumers are loyal to Gucci’s products, but they are not the only ones who buy perfumes from Gucci. Gucci should perhaps focus more on the ordinary consumer who cares about the price of a product and not on the social status connected with it. They could do that through more advertisement in regular cosmetic stores and try to bring out their product even more in these stores. It is just important for Gucci to remember that different target groups and segments are influenced by different factors in their decision making process.