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Postpurchase Consumer Behavior

 

After the purchase, the consumer might experience dissonance that stems from noticing
certain disquieting features or hearing favorable things about other brands, and will be alert
to information that supports his or her decision. Marketing communications should supply
beliefs and evaluations that reinforce the consumer’s choice and help him or her feel good
about the brand.

POSTPURCHASE SATISFACTION: What determines customer satisfaction with a purchase?
Satisfaction is a function of the closeness between expectations and the product’s perceived
performance. If performance falls short of expectations, the consumer is disappointed; if it
meets expectations, the consumer is satisfied; if it exceeds expectations, the consumer is
delighted. These feelings make a difference in whether the customer buys the product again
and talks favorably or unfavorably about it to others.
Consumers form their expectations on the basis of messages received from sellers,
friends, and other information sources. The larger the gap between expectations and performance, the greater the dissatisfaction. Here the consumer’s coping style comes into play.
Some consumers magnify the gap when the product is not perfect, and they are highly dissatisfied; others minimize the gap and are less dissatisfied.
The importance of postpurchase satisfaction suggests that product claims must truthfully represent the product’s likely performance. Some sellers might even understate performance levels so that consumers experience higher-than-expected satisfaction with the
product.

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 POST-PURCHASE ACTIONS: Satisfaction or dissatisfaction with the product will influence
subsequent behavior. If the consumer is satisfied, he or she will exhibit a higher probability
of purchasing the product again. For example, data on automobile brand choice show a high
correlation between being highly satisfied with the last brand bought and intention to buy
the brand again. One survey showed that 75 percent of Toyota buyers were highly satisfied
and about 75 percent intended to buy a Toyota again; 35 percent of Chevrolet buyers were
highly satisfied and about 35 percent intended to buy a Chevrolet again. The satisfied customer will also tend to say good things about the brand to others. Marketers say: “Our best
advertisement is a satisfied customer.”
Dissatisfied consumers may abandon or return the product. They may seek information
that confirms its high value. They may take public action by complaining to the company,
going to a lawyer, or complaining to other groups (such as business, private, or government agencies). Private actions include making a decision to stop buying the product (exit option)
or warning friends (voice option). In all these cases, the seller has done a poor job of satisfying the customer.

Post-purchase communications to buyers have been shown to result in fewer product returns
and order cancellations. Computer companies, for example, can send a letter to new owners congratulating them on having selected a fine computer. They can place ads showing
satisfied brand owners. They can solicit customer suggestions for improvements and list the
location of available services. They can write intelligible instruction booklets. They can send
owners a magazine containing articles describing new computer applications. In addition,
they can provide good channels for speedy redress of customer grievances.

POST-PURCHASE USE AND DISPOSAL: Marketers should also monitor how buyers use
and dispose of the product. A key driver of sales frequency is product consumption rate—the more quickly buyers consume a product, the sooner they may be back in the
market to repurchase it.
One potential opportunity to increase frequency of product use is when consumers’ perceptions of their usage differ from the reality. Consumers may fail to replace products with
relatively short life spans in a timely manner because of a tendency to underestimate product life. One strategy to speed up replacement is to tie the act of replacing the product to a
certain holiday, event, or time of year.
For example, several brands have run promotions tied in with the springtime switch to
daylight savings time (e.g., Oral-B toothbrushes). Another strategy might be to provide consumers with better information as to either: (1) when the product was first used or would
need to be replaced or (2) the current level of performance. For example, batteries offer
built-in gauges that show how much power they have left; toothbrushes have color indicators on their bristles to indicate when they are too worn; and so on. Perhaps the simplest
way to increase usage is when actual usage of a product is less than optimal or recommended. In this case, consumers must be persuaded of the merits of more regular usage,
and potential hurdles to increased usage must be overcome.
If consumers throw the product away, the marketer needs to know how they dispose of it,
especially if it can damage the environment (as in the case with batteries, beverage contain-
ers, and disposable diapers). Increased public awareness of recycling and ecological con-
cerns as well as consumer complaints about having to throw away beautiful bottles led
French perfume maker Rochas to think about introducing a refillable fragrance line.

 

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