As I was anxiously awaiting the premiere of The Bachelor, I thought about the similarities between the selection process the Bachelor goes through and the buyer decision process that consumers experience when buying a product. Now don’t get me wrong, the majority of purchases aren’t nearly as important as choosing who you are going to marry, but when you are as indecisive as I am some purchases seem to require as much thought!
Step 1: Problem Recognition
Problem recognition occurs when a consumer finds a need for a product. This need could be triggered by the consumer seeing marketing for a product or from realizing they’re out of their favorite shampoo. In the Bachelor’s case, problem recognition occurs when he realizes it’s time for him to find a wife (and feels that there is no better way to do this than to go on national television and date 30 women at once). Luckily for consumers, products don’t cry when you choose another product over them, they don’t have catfights with their competition, and they don’t obsess over getting a rose. Unluckily for the Bachelor, the women do all of this…but if they didn’t, then who would watch!?
Step 2: Information Search
The information search is the next (and most involved) step in the buyer decision process; this is what you see throughout the whole season of The Bachelor. The information search includes all of the Bachelor’s group and one-on-one dates. By dating, he’s gathering the information he needs to choose one woman in the final rose ceremony. In a series of subcategories, here is what the Bachelor goes through in his information search and how it compares to consumers’ information search:
Narrowing the Pool
The lucky Bachelor starts with around 30 women, all of whom are dying (some begging) to get a rose and make it to the next round, and after the first rose ceremony he narrows it down to 20. To choose who gets a rose and who gets sent home, there is a cocktail party where the Bachelor talks to each of the women for what appears to be 15 minutes.
Similarly, consumers start with a vast selection of products to choose from if they plan to buy something. To narrow this selection down quickly, they’ll perform an internet search or use public sources to get rid of any products that aren’t worth more elaborate research. The Bachelor can’t exactly Google the women to narrow his choices down, so this cocktail party is his form of gathering research.
After the Bachelor has narrowed it down to 20 women, he then takes them on various types of dates (from one-on-one dates to group dates). During these dates he gets to know the women better and keeps narrowing his choices down until he has about 5 women left standing.
This part of the selection process for The Bachelor is similar to product comparisons. It’s easier for the Bachelor to get to know the women if he is on a one-on-one date with them, just as it is also easier for a consumer to find out more information about a product when they are putting their focus on researching one product at a time. In other instances, consumers like to compare products next to each other, something the Bachelor is able to do on a group date.
Hometown/Meet the Family Dates
As the season comes to the end, the Bachelor goes to the hometowns of the few women left standing to meet their families. When consumers are deciding between the last few products, they may give the product a trial run or go to the store and test it out in person. This would be similar to The Bachelor going to the women’s hometowns and seeing what it would be like to be part of their life. He also has his family meet the final women, and asks their opinions on the choices he’s made.
When I make an important decision (or even when I can’t decide what to get for lunch) I may ask the people around me what they think I should do. By getting friends’ and family’s opinions, consumers may either be assured they are making the right choice or may discover information they weren’t able to gather themselves.
Step 3: Evaluation of Alternatives
In this stage of the buyer decision process, the consumer uses the information he or she gathered and evaluates the choices that are left based on the desired attributes of a product. The Bachelor uses this same process to evaluate the final women based on what he would like in a future wife. For example, he may decide he wants his future wife to be funny, good looking, successful, and not crazy (yes, smart alecks…this is possible). He would use those attributes to evaluate the final women.
Step 4: Purchase Decision
This is the stage where the consumer decides to purchase or not (and what to purchase). Essentially, the Bachelor makes the same decision – who to give the final rose to and whether he should propose or bail completely and remain a bachelor (this last choice is highly frowned upon among Bachelor viewers).
Step 5: Post-Purchase Behavior
In the final stage of the buyer decision process, the consumer evaluates their decision based on satisfaction or dissatisfaction. In the Bachelor history, most Bachelors end up dissatisfied with their ‘purchase decision’ and end up breaking up with the woman they chose after the season ends. Hopefully consumers make better purchase decisions than some of the previous Bachelors have!
Do you see any other similarities between ABC’s The Bachelor and the buyer decision process? Who do you think Brad should pick this season?
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