Information Search

An aroused consumer may or may not search for more information. If the consumer’s drive is strong and a satisfying product is near at hand, the consumer is likely to buy it then. If not, the consumer may store the need in memory or undertake an information search related to the need.

At one level, the consumer may simply enter heightened attention. Here Lucy pays more attention to information about cameras. She pays attention to camera ads, cameras used by friends, and camera conversations. Or Lucy may go into active information search, in which she looks for reading material, phones friends, and gathers information in other ways. The amount of searching she does will depend on the strength of her drive, the amount of information she starts with, the ease of obtaining more information, the value she places on additional information, and the satisfaction she gets from searching.

The consumer can obtain information from several sources. These include

  • personal sources (family, friends, neighbors, acquaintances),

  • commercial sources (advertising, salespeople, dealers, packaging, displays, Web sites),

  • public sources (mass media, consumer-rating organizations),

  • experiential sources (handling, examining, using the product).

People often ask others—friends, relatives, acquaintances, professionals—for recommendations concerning a product or service. Thus, companies have a strong interest in building such word-of-mouth sources. These sources have two chief advantages.

  • First, they are convincing: Word of mouth is the only promotion method that is of consumers, by consumers, and for consumers. Having loyal, satisfied customers that brag about doing business with you is the dream of every business owner. Not only are satisfied customers repeat buyers, but they are also walking, talking billboards for your business.

  • Second, the costs are low. Keeping in touch with satisfied customers and turning them into word-of-mouth advocates costs the business relatively little.

As more information is obtained, the consumer’s awareness and knowledge of the available brands and features increases. In her information search, Lucy learned about the many camera brands available. The information also helped her drop certain brands from consideration. A company must design its marketing mix to make prospects aware of and knowledgeable about its brand. It should carefully identify consumers’ sources of information and the importance of each source. Consumers should be asked how they first heard about the brand, what information they received, and what importance they placed on different information sources.