- Universal set: all possible product alternatives that could be purchased by the consumer
- Awareness set: a subset of all possible alternatives, limited by consumer interest and cognitive factors (attention, comprehension, cognitive capacity)
- Consideration set: small set of potential purchase alternatives, that the consumer carefully analyzes and compares
- Choice outcome: the best alternative that the consumer arrives at, after eliminating the other alternatives from the Consideration set.
Another aspect which I studied myself about two years ago is the impact of "attention" (see "The Attention Economy" by Thomas Davenport) on the purchasing cycle. One interesting thing to study is the type of attention awarded depending on steps of the purchasing cycle. What we see is an initial, shorter and voluntary attention span progressively going toward a very focused and narow attention, often revealed after a couple of visits, just before the final purchasing decision. Think about how you shoped for your last car and you will easily see an evolution in the way your "attention" was used. When combined to the classic RFM marketing metrics (Recency, Frequency, Monetary), Attention, what I would call the 4th dimension of RFM (now RFMA!) really becomes a new decision factor influencing personalization.
The challenge is now to be able to measure "attention" using web analytics techniques!