Table of Contents:-
- Understanding Problem Recognition
- Types of Problems Recognition
- Causes of Consumer Problem Recognition
- Role of Problem Recognition
- Research-Based Problem Recognition
- Approaches to Problem Recognition
Understanding Problem Recognition
Customers identify a problem or need when they observe a notable difference between their desires and the current condition of a product or service. This recognition serves as the motivation that initiates the decision making process. The “actual state” refers to the process by which a need is already being satisfied, while the “desired state” signifies the process by which an individual wants their demand to be fulfilled.
The process of need recognition involves many factors, such as information processing and customer motivation. Customers must be conscious of the needs and problems, whether arising from within or outside the organization, through the processing of information. This awareness leads to customer motivation. Thus, problem recognition describes a process that stimulates and encourages customers to take part in substantial purchasing decisions.
Types of Problems Recognition
There are multiple problems that customers can recognize. Some of them are as follows:
1) Emergency Problems
These types of problems are often unforeseen by the customer and demand a quick resolution. For example, when a businessman identifies a damaged display on his laptop, he must immediately replace it to ensure his work remains uninterrupted.
2) Planning Problems
Anticipated problems that don’t need an immediate remedy fall into the category of planning problems. For example, if a person experiences issues with the functionality of their mobile phone but can still use it, they might begin exploring alternative brands of mobile phones, pay attention to mobile phone advertisements, engage in window shopping, or seek advice from friends and peer groups regarding mobile phones. Individuals consider purchasing ‘pre-need products’ as planning problems arise, and these items may become necessary shortly.
3) Evolving Situation
These are situations in which unexpected problems arise, but an immediate solution is not necessary. Fashionable products serve as one example of evolving situations. A person may be aware of changing fashion trends but may not respond to new styles immediately, choosing to adopt them in the future.
4) Routine Problems
Routine problems are those where a gap is likely to exist between the actual state and the desired state. Customers typically aim to address these problems immediately. Convenience goods, such as sugar, coffee, tomato ketchup, etc., serve as examples associated with these types of problems.
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Causes of Consumer Problem Recognition
Several conditions can lead to the recognition of consumer problems. Here are explanations of some of the important conditions:
1) Dissatisfaction with the Inventory of Goods
Observations have shown that customers occasionally grow dissatisfied with their current products, resulting in problem recognition. For example, a person who owns an alphanumeric keypad mobile phone may contemplate upgrading to the latest version of a smartphone because many people use smartphones, and having an old-fashioned mobile phone can cause social discomfort for them.
2) Reduced or Insufficient Inventory of Goods
This is one of the most frequent factors leading customers to identify a problem. Initially, customers use various products they have in stock, and afterwards, they repurchase goods to replenish their stock and continue fulfilling their needs. When products are important to consumers, the need for such items emerges immediately upon stock depletion.
3) Marketing Practices
Marketers use strategies like sales promotion, advertisement, and personal selling to actively engage customers in problem recognition. Using these marketing tools, a marketer attempts to alter the customer’s perception in a way that the customer starts to perceive a significant gap between their desired state (owning a product) and their actual state (not having the product). This, in turn, compels them to search, compare, and eventually purchase the marketer’s product.
4) Dynamic Environmental Conditions
Customers can recognize problems due to the dynamism of environmental conditions. One of the most influential conditions is the changing attributes of family, which, in turn, results in several problem recognitions for a person.
5) Changing Financial Conditions
The financial condition of any customer is one of the most crucial aspects that lead to problem recognition. Predictions about the current and future financial condition of customers can trigger problem recognition as they estimate how much they can spend on purchasing specific products.
Role of Problem Recognition
Need arousal, often referred to as problem recognition, is a fundamental concept in consumer behaviour. It occurs when people identify unsolved problems or unfulfilled needs and wants. Customer dissatisfaction arises when a customer perceives a gap between their actual and desired expectations concerning any product or service.
When a customer identifies a problem or a need, it opens up several marketing opportunities for a marketer, some of which are as follows:
1) Leveraging Comparison Advertising
Marketers take the help of comparison advertising to increase the dissatisfaction of consumers with any product or brand which they are using currently. Then, the marketers demonstrate how their product is better than that of competitors.
2) Developing Superior Products or Services
Developing a product or service which can satisfy the needs and wants or solve the problems of the customer in a far better manner than that of the offerings of the competitors.
3) Informing About Latent Needs and Desires
Informing customers about latent, hidden, or intuitive needs and wants, of which the customer may be unaware or have buried deep within their consciousness. For example, an unhealthy lifestyle may cause a heart attack.
4) Problem-Solution Advertising
Using a specific advertising technique known as ‘problem-solution advertising,’ watch advertisements typically start by highlighting a problem and then proceed to demonstrate how effectively their product can solve such a problem. For example, achieving whiter teeth in 15 days or fairer skin in 7 days. Marketer also uses the consultative personal selling technique in which they try to understand the customer’s problem and then recommend a solution using their product.
Marketers can produce products that can satisfy the existing needs and wants of the customer, but they cannot generate new needs or wants. In other words, a marketer’s product can only enhance the level of satisfaction that customers are already achieving from other brands. However, if a marketer aims to create new demand, they may need to address the latent demands of customers. For example, ‘Fair and Handsome,’ a fairness cream for men, may raise awareness among male customers about their dark complexion.
Research-Based Problem Recognition
There are several ways to identify consumers’ problems. One of the most obvious methods is intuition. Based on intuition, a manager can logically assess a product and suggest changes that can enhance its efficiency. For example, soundless vacuum cleaners or silent kitchen tools might be appealing to consumers based on the marketer’s intuition. However, this approach can be ineffective since the problems it addresses may not be of significant importance to customers. Therefore, researchers conduct studies to gain insights into the real problems and challenges that consumers encounter.
One of the most widely employed techniques is the survey method. In this approach, researchers survey a substantial number of people about the issues they experience with a product. Another methodology is a focus group interview, which typically comprises a group of 8-12 people who share a common interest or category, such as working women, adolescent girls, boys from a law college, or management professionals. The organizers provide these participants with a discussion topic, and they invite everyone to share their experiences. A mediator is present to keep the discussion focused.
Approaches to Problem Recognition
Sometimes, the manager’s sole focus is on uncovering the causes of a problem rather than taking action to address it. There are two approaches to recognizing a problem, which are similar to the concepts of generic and selective demand. These approaches are as follows:
1) Generic Problem Recognition
It refers to a problem that can contribute to the improvement of several products within a given category. Typically, a company attempts to address a generic problem when it is latent or not highly critical.
The conditions for generic problem recognition are as follows:
i) It is present in the preliminary stage of the product life cycle.
ii) The company is enjoying a major share of the market.
iii) External search could face restrictions due to this problem.
iv) The industry can solve it through cooperative effort.
2) Selective Problem Recognition
It refers to problems which can be solved only by one brand. Selective problem helps in gaining or maintaining market share while generic problem recognition usually helps in expanding the total market.
The methods to stimulate problem recognition are as follows:
i) Affecting the Desires: Numerous marketing efforts aim to influence consumer desires. In other words, marketers attempt to promote products by claiming that they will help fulfil the desires of consumers. For example, ‘Fair and Lovely Cream for fair skin’ or ‘Apsara Black Pencil for good handwriting,’ etc.
ii) Affecting Sensitivity of the Current State: The sensitivity of the current state can also be affected through advertisements. This approach is taken by various personal care and social products. For example, ‘Cadbury’s dairy milk jo rishtey banaye’ or ‘Johnson Baby soap- mamta ka ehsas”.
iii) Affecting the Time of Identifying a Problem: Many times, the problem is identified when it’s not possible to buy the solution. For example, the importance of an insurance policy can be understood only after an accident. Similarly, the importance of a firefighting instrument can be understood only when there’s a fire at a location, or when someone has a fever and needs Crocin.
Sometimes, marketers can help in solving these problems as they have occurred. For example, Crocin or flu medicine can be delivered at home by the chemist if the person is not in a condition to go to the market. However, generally, such problems need to be recognized in advance, and solutions must be readily available. Thus, it is advantageous for both the consumer and the marketer to identify potential problems before they become actual problems.