The assignment for this essay was to write about the consumer decision making process. Choose a product that you bought recently. It must be complex buying behavior. It should not be something that is an ordinary purchase or that you purchase on a regular basis. Describe your purchase as it pertains to each stage of the Buyer Decision Process. I earned a 10/10 for the below essay. The reasons why I bought a Macbook Pro, or to be more accurate why I’m glad I bought a Macbook Pro, have expanded and developed since I wrote this essay. Soon I’ll post a follow up to this essay that lists the reasons I believe I made a good purchasing decision when I handed over $1800 to Apple.
When I first enrolled at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill [UNC-CH], I was provided a IBM Thinkpad R40 laptop via the Carolina Computing Initiative [CCI]; the CCI exists to ensure all UNC-CH students have a laptop computer. After I completed the Spring 2006 semester, I was required to return the Thinkpad R40 to UNC-CH, thus forcing me to rely on my desktop computer which is a compilation of parts from computers my family has had over the years. While the computer was sufficient for very basic tasks, it was slow and caused a relatively large bottleneck in my computing productivity. When I enrolled in night classes at Northeastern University during the second half of the Fall 2006 semester, the size (by forcing me to sit at my desk) and age (most of the crucial parts, such as CPU and RAM are 4-5 years old) of my existing computer made taking classes a more difficult endeavor than it needed to be.
This was the beginning of the first phase of the consumer decision making process, problem recognition. As someone who has built, installed, and maintained computers as a hobby and professionally, it was definitely not my ideal situation to have a 4 year old computer at home that was barely capable of performing anything beyond basic tasks! The build up of computer frustration over the months finally led me to admit that I would need to either heavily upgrade my existing computer or buy a new laptop.
Once I admitted the gap between my ideal and actual situation (I knew this gap existed, but kept convincing myself I could hold off for a little bit longer with my current computer) I still had to decide whether I wanted to upgrade my desktop computer or buy a laptop. I did not wish to buy a new desktop computer as it did not provide enough value for me, as I’d still be chained to my desk whenever I needed to use my computer. If I was going to buy a laptop, I wanted to buy one that would be equivalent to a very good desktop computer in power and features. From my previous experience with the IBM Thinkpad R40, I eliminated IBM brand laptops from my possible options. I was still faced with a huge range of products, so I had to further limit my options. I then began to identify which parts of my existing computer would have to be upgraded if I was to go that route. After researching parts and prices on web-sites, I determined that the cost of upgrading my existing desktop computer would not be worth it as I’d still be locked into using the computer at my desk. Portability became one of my most important criteria for my new computer due to having less time to get all of my computing done at my desk at home due to working full-time and going to school part-time while also trying to maintain a social life.
I then began researching the latest laptop models and repeatedly became frustrated at the lack of one laptop which met all of my needs. My IBM Thinkpad R40 proved to be very unreliable and not durable thus reliability and durability were also important factors for my new computer. Reading reviews online, I just could not find a laptop computer which was fast, reliable, durable and had a good cost to features ratio. A few months ago, one of my friend’s dads picked up an Apple Macbook for a reduced price from Apple’s refurbished store. Seeing the Macbook in person, I was amazed at how small the computer was. The friend whose dad purchased the Macbook is a software release engineer and had worked with me as a technology consultant for a small firm while we were both in high school and thus he had a good understanding of my technical background and an expert understanding of computer software. He advised me that I should try out Ubuntu, a Linux distribution on my old computer and as an operating system for whichever laptop I decided on buying. I decided I was not ready yet for a full on transition to Linux, but did add the fact that Apple’s Mac OS X operating system runs off a Unix core as another benefit of an Apple laptop. I could learn Unix, which would greatly ease any future transition to Linux (from Windows) while still being able to use a very intuitive and end-user friendly operating system for my necessary tasks (e.g. School and work). I then researched Apple’s latest laptops for durability, reliability, performance and a multitude of other factors to determine how much benefit I would receive in exchange for the cost of an Apple laptop. I was very much on the border of whether an Apple computer’s higher cost was worth it. I found several other brands which were comparable to the Macbook and Macbook Pro in terms of performance and features. The HP Pavilion, Toshiba Satellite, and Acer Aspire all had Intel Core 2 Duo processors and more memory, hard drive space, and better video graphics cards than the Macbook line of laptops. Sony also had laptops with seemingly great features and benefit to cost ratio, however, my poor personal experiences and history with Sony CD players, video game systems and several other products immediately eliminated Sony from consideration ( I will never buy any Sony products ever again). While the Windows based laptops from HP, Toshiba, and Acer appeared on the surface to be much better deals, I dislike the Microsoft operating system and was heavily valuing Apple’s use of Unix based operating system. Having placed a heavy value on the Mac OS X operating system made it very tough for the alternative laptops I had identified to be chosen. Deciding by elimination, left me with the choice of whether to buy a Macbook or Macbook Pro and even after that choice, of which configuration to choose.
From admitting my problem to the point of deciding to go with an Apple laptop took approximately two to three months of research and analysis. Although I had traversed the tough and time-consuming steps of the consumer purchase decision process, I was still a ways off from making a purchase. Upon realizing that the Macbook Pro uses an aluminum case rather than the plastic case on the Macbook, and the Macbook Pro utilizes a stand alone graphics card whereas the Macbook has its graphics chip built into the motherboard focused my attention on the Macbook Pro. At this point, I also decided that the cheapest configuration for the Macbook Pro was a better value than the more powerful but more expensive configurations. Having decided to buy a Macbook Pro, I knew I would be buying my laptop from Apple and after deciding that the cheaper refurbished laptops were not that much cheaper than a brand new laptop with an education discount, I knew I’d be going to an Apple Store to buy a Macbook Pro (I also didn’t want to take any chances with shipping my nearly $2000 laptop). My last decision was when to buy a Macbook Pro. Having discovered through my earlier research that Apple was very close to completing the new version of their Max OS X operating system, Leopard, made me want to wait until the new operating system was released to avoid the costs of upgrading later and to have the latest version of the operating system when I bought my laptop. After further consideration, I decided it’s best to let a few releases of Leopard to roll out so Apple can make and necessary improvements and fix any bugs. More frustration from using my existing computer further convinced me to go out and buy a Macbook Pro at the beginning of February.
Having quickly acclimated to the Mac OS X operating system and picking up some knowledge of Unix, I recently installed Ubuntu on my desktop computer. Having then quickly acclimated to Ubuntu, and noticed the sharp increase in performance on my desktop computer has caused me to experience some cognitive dissonance with my purchase of a Macbook Pro. However, the performance of the Macbook Pro and the included software is for the most part so excellent and superior to the other brands I had considered, that I am still pleased with my Macbook Pro.