The marketing world is kind of scary in how far they go to understand human habits. Ranging from how many ads one really looks at when looking in a phonebook (incidently, 4) to how your eyes fall on the page (they typically fall on the upper right side and then fall to the left lower side), marketing has gone great lengths to pick the human brain in order to pry open people's wallets.
In the name of profit and fortune, one of the many things marketing studies have lead to is the "consumer buying cycle" which documents the process people go through when buying something.
The first part of the cycle is awareness, in which the consumer learns that the product or service is avaialable. Afterall, it is very hard to want to buy gas-driven transport when one doesn't know that there are automobiles.
The second part is interest, where some aspect of this product strikes a chord (or fails to) with the consumer.
The third step is consideration. A consumer recognizes that they might buy this item or service at some point.
Search/direction takes the fourth place spot and is the most crucial to marketing. In it, the consumer reaches out for information and looks at what choices they have.
The process then enters the purchase step, typically involving the trade of paper with dead people on it which represents an imaginary unit of worth. Sometimes the purchase involves the trade of services in back alley ways or small amounts of powder to be taken through the nose amoung multitudes of other things.
The last thing a consumer goes through is the experience which decides how the consumer will react to the object or service in the future. The experience phase usually passes again into the awareness phase to start the cycle over as the consumer has been exposed to more through the experience.
While the process, in writing, is on the long side, all of it can occur in mere seconds. The search and direction can be as simple as scanning your eyes over the candy bars in the checkout aisle and peeking at what wrappers say "with nuts," "filled with creme," or "made with 100% whale blubber."