Social Commerce and The 5 Stages of Consumer Decision-Making

Social Commerce  and The 5 Stages of Consumer Decision-Making

Social Commerce and The 5 Stages of Consumer Decision-Making 

Although the methods and mediums of shopping have changed, the consumer decision-making process has not changed. In today’s e-commerce market, consumers still have to make decisions on what product to purchase, from which merchant and at what price. Being aware of the consumer decision-making process will equip you with the necessary knowledge to market your product or service most effectively using the right social commerce tools.

Why is it important to understand the 5 stages of consumer decision-making and how will it help with your social media marketing efforts? 

We’re all familiar with the term ‘knowledge is power.’ This term is certainly true of the 5 stages of consumer decision-making. If you can narrow down the process of consumer decision-making, you will be empowered with vital information that will help you market your product in a way that specifically meets the needs of the consumer. Social media has become the strongest marketing tool to influence consumer decision-making.

I want to share with you The 5 Stages of Consumer Decision-Making and the social commerce tools used in each stage.

1. Need/Problem Recognition – At this stage the consumer recognizes a problem or need. If there is no need or problem, then there is no purchase necessary. The need of a consumer arises when there is a lack between their actual state and the desired state. The social commerce tools used during this stage are:

  • Social Ads on social networking sites
  • Shared endorsements from friends posted on activity streams
  • Curated images and lists on sites like Pinterest
  • Location-based promotions (i.e. check-ins, Foursquare)

2. Information Search – After the need/problem has been identified, the consumer will begin searching for information to meet and or satisfy the need/problem. The consumer will search Internal Information (information already stored in the consumers memory) and External Information (information from external sources. i.e. friends, family, reviews…etc.). The social commerce tools used in this stage are:

  • Comments throughout social channels
  • Queries and responses within social networks (e.g. LinkedIn and Facebook)
  • Ratings and reviews posted on sites (e.g. Yelp, Zagat, Zomato)

3. Evaluation of Alternatives – Once the information has been gathered, the consumer will compare alternatives. In this stage the consumers compares products and services against each other to find which product/service best meets their need/problem at the right price. The social tools used during this stage are:

  • Price comparison
  • Recommendations, testimonials, recommendation agents and popularity filters (top lists from retailers such as Amazon)
  • Referrals

4. Purchase – This is the commitment stage. In the purchase decision stage, the consumer has evaluated the differences between alternatives and narrowed their decision to the most optimal product/service that meets their need. In the stage, the social commerce tools used are:

5. Post-Purchase – This is the last stage of the 5 stages of consumer decision-making process. After the consumer has purchased the product/service, they will use and evaluate the product/or service and formulate an opinion. This is the stage in which the consumer either forms a negative or a positive opinion of the product. And it is also the stage in which they share their experience with others. The social commerce tools used are:

  • Share opinion posts in activity streams
  • Ratings and reviews on review site and retailer website
  • Review and product experiences posted on blogs

With this knowledge you can utilize social commerce tools to best market your product or service. Understanding the 5 stages of consumer decision-making is only the first step. The next step is to use social commerce tools effectively to create the most optimal shopping experience for your target market.

I hope you’ve found this post on Social Commerce and The 5 Stages of Consumer Decision-Making helpful. I’d love to hear from you. Please leave a comment or drop me a message.



Tim Rivers


Zeit Designs



*Social commerce tools resources found in Social Media Marketing, 2nd edition, Tuten & Solomon

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