At Keio University, Professor Akira Shimizu, in the Faculty of Business and Commerce, is doing research on "understanding the circulated decision-making process."
Until now, research on consumer behavior has focused on the process that leads consumers to purchase things. There have been various discussions of media strategy "up to purchase," regarding what consumers think and what stimuli lead them to buy something.
Nowadays, however, the Internet is full of word-of-mouth information from a large number of unspecified consumers, due to the advance of social media and other platforms. This is said to be greatly affecting the attitudes of subsequent potential purchasers. Consequently, it's now thought that businesses need to prioritize not only the conventional one-way decision-making process from product recognition to purchase, but also a decision-making process involving feedback through word-of-mouth information.
Professor Shimizu calls this the "circulated decision-making process," and refers to marketing strategy based on that process as "circulated marketing." He's researching new decision-making processes in the era of social media, and their strategic significance.
"Regarding the features and strengths of my research, until now, consumers' decision-making processes have often been one-way. Specifically, in many cases, consumers have "recognized an item," "investigated the merchandise," "decided whether they want to buy it," "bought it," and "fed back their feelings after the purchase to their next purchasing decision."
However, what I'm considering now is probably more like a repeated circular process, not a one-way process. Specifically, it may be that a consumer "recognized some merchandise," "thought about it and bought it," "was satisfied after buying it and talked to other people," "the talking led the next person to recognize the item," and "that person bought the item, too." I considered theoretically that this might be a repeated cycle, and right now, I'm gathering data to confirm whether that's true."
Professor Shimizu does collaborative work with researchers overseas, where there is strong interest in "circulated marketing," which is considered a very creative theory. "Circulated marketing" is also attracting attention as the foundation of marketing strategies for a new era; for example, survey companies in Japan are using it as a platform.
"The main significance of the loop model is that consumers' decision-making processes, and all people's decision-making processes, can be incorporated into it. In other words, among consumers, some people make skillful use of social media to gather a variety of information before purchasing, while some people obtain information in the conventional way, based on manufacturers' advertisements, before they purchase. Alternatively, some people go to a store, and buy a product that's on "special offer" that day. So, there are various types of people. Until now, there was no model that could cover all such people. I think the main point of my research is that it can cover all scenarios."
As the Internet evolves further, and the era of "big data" progresses, Professor Shimizu will keep working to understand the "circulated decision-making process" further, by analyzing consumer information, which is likely to become even more complex, and creating databases from it.
As the Internet evolves further, and the era of "big data" progresses, consumer information is likely to become even more complex. By analyzing such information, and creating databases from it, Professor Shimizu hopes to gain new insight into the "circulated decision-making process.