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Decision-Making Unit

There might be many people involved in a man・s decision to buy a disposable razor.  Kotler et al (1999) defined the people as decision-making unit .who participate in, and influence, the consumer buying-decision process・, which includes initiator, influencer, decider, buyer and user.  However the purchase decision becomes more complicated when each individual plays with one or more roles.  .A role consists of the activities that people are expected to perform according to the persons around them・ (Kotler, et al, 1999).  Individuals can belong to primary or/and secondary groups to play different roles simultaneously.  Primary groups are close personal relationships such as family and close friendship (Warwick MBA: Market Analysis course notes, 2001).  Secondary groups are formal and less regular interaction include organizations like religious groups, professional associations and trade unions (Kotler et al, 1999).  Kotler et al (1999) also identified that family group is composed of its orientation V the consumer・s parents and its procreation V the consumer・s spouse and children, hence it produces a significant impact on the purchase decision than the others.

Kotler et al (1999) defined an initiator as .the person who first suggests or thinks of the idea of buying a particular product or service・.  The man might or might not be an initiator to buy the disposable razor.  It might be his children after they saw from a TV advertisement about the convenience of the product.  The children・s age might be within the group of people who love for adventure and try new things.  The children might perform the roles of son or daughter, husband or wife, student or worker, opinion leader in their reference groups and member of religious groups.

.Influencer is a person whose views or advice carries some weight in making a final buying decision; they often help define specifications and also provide information for evaluating alternatives・ (Kotler et al, 1999).  The man・s colleague in the working area might act as an influencer.  The colleague might currently use the disposable razor and have some kind of specifications and information for the man to evaluate alternatives.  The colleague might perceive one brand is a good choice and would bias the evaluation.  The colleague might perform the roles of grandfather, father or son, husband, manager, and member of a club.

.Decider is the person who ultimately makes a buying decision or any part of it V whether to buy, what to buy, how buy, or where to buy・ (Kotler et al, 1999).  The man might be the decider to make the buying decision.  He might decide to try a disposable razor V whether to buy.  He might decide that Gillette Good News! would be the best choice after the evaluation of all the alternatives V what to buy.  As he is busy in his work quite often, he might decide to have his wife to purchase from a nearby superstore on his behalf V how and where to buy.  The man might perform the roles of grandfather, father or son, husband, manager, and part-time tutor.

. Buyer is the person who makes an actual purchase・ (Kotler et al, 1999).  The wife is the buyer to make the purchase for her husband.  She might not agree to the purchase decision due to green factor but she might finally accept what her husband decides.  She might perform the roles of grandmother, mother or daughter, wife, housewife, and member of Green Association.

.User is the person who consumes or uses a product or service・ (Kotler et al, 1999).  The man would be the user of the disposable razor.  He might not be the only user as his son or father could also use the product once bought.  The man・s father might perform the roles of grandfather, father or son, husband, volunteer in a charity organization.

In an extreme case, the man might act as initiator, decider, buyer and user of the purchase decision.  If this is the case, the buying process is rather simple.  In real world, it is quite often that a purchase decision is influenced by a composition of different individuals.  It implies that the discussion involves a narrow combination, while a wider combination of decision-making unit and individual role-playing depending on any case would make the buying process more complex and unpredictable.

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