Consumer decision making behavior
The report aims to gain the deep insight into concepts, models and theories of consumer decision making and brand choices. The report attempts to study various factors that govern consumer behaviour and influence his/her decision making process. In addition to this, dominant theories and concepts related to consumer behaviour have also been examined in the present study. Models and approaches have been explained with the help of common examples.
Consumer decision making process
In common parlance, Decision making can be defined as cognitive process of selecting a particular course of action from among varied alternatives. Consumer behaviour comprises the broad range of factors that influences consumer as well as acknowledges a wide array of consumption activities part from purchasing (Consumer Decision Making, n.d). These activities primarily include need recognition, pre-purchase information search, evaluating available alternatives, purchase and post-purchase evaluation. Consumer decision making process starts when buyer recognizes a need or problem. Once the need is recognized, he/she tends to search for more information, which he gathers from various sources such as reference group, friends and family recommendations, advertisements, magazines etc. Through gathering information, buyer learns more about the product available in the market that could satisfy need. Then the consumer begins to seek out the best alternatives which further are evaluated on basis of quality, price or other factors (Consumer behaviour: How people make buying decisions, n.d). After assessing all the criteria essential for making decision the customer now decide to make final purchase. After purchasing the product, the consumer begins to evaluate the product in order to ascertain if the expectations are met or not. When the product met the desired expectation, a consumer seems to be satisfied ad likely to repurchase the product in future. But if he is dissatisfied with the product, he will never buy that same product again.
Socio-cultural factors in consumer decision making process
Other people have significant impact on individual’s decision making. When deciding whether to consume or purchase the products or services, people are influences by opinion of others to relatively great extent. Socio cultural factors include anything within the milieu of society and which as potential to influence individual’s behaviour (Factors that influence consumer’s buying behaviour, 2013). Consumer’s attitude and behaviour are influenced by varied levels factors such as society’s culture, cultural norms and factors like reference group, social classes and family. Interaction with family and others within the social environment results in development of personality and values that in turn shapes individual’s attitude, beliefs and ultimately their buying behaviour. In addition, some internalized or personal factors such as education, lifestyle, and ostentations also affect the buying behaviour. For instance, there are various factors that consumer keep in mind while purchasing a new cloth. Societal norms, culture and tradition, customs regulates the kind of cloth consumer purchase (Schiffman and et. al., 2007). Besides this, the type of lifestyle, level of education and social class also affect the buying decision. Young customers between the age group 18 to 24 tend to buy fashion apparel that is in trend and something that is widely accepted by people of his/her age group. Their purchasing decision will be based on friend’s recommendations, reference group as well as the popular brand in the market.
Pychological factors involved in consumer decision process
Beside the socio cultural factors, psychological variables such as individual’s perception, motivation, beliefs and attitude also plays major role in influencing behaviour and thereby affecting the consumer decision making process (Cheryl and Tran, 2007). Psychological factors are internal; however they are affected by external social forces. These factors are what people use to interact with the world, to recognize their feelings, gather and assess the information, develop thoughts and opinion and ultimately take actions. People perceive different stimuli and further process these stimuli in varied ways depending on situation (Factors that influence consumer’s buying behaviour, 2013). However, a person cannot perceive every stimulus and therefore they use selective exposure with a view to decide which stimuli to react and which to avoid. Buyers use cues to recognize and define then product or brand. For example, the shape of Coca Cola’s bottle can influence perception. Likewise colour is another cue that influences consumer perception. Apart from that, beliefs and attitude also influence consumer behaviour greatly. A consumer may believe that Canon’s cam recorder tolerates rough use, makes good videos and are reasonably priced. He tends to develop a set of belief about a product that further form the brand image. In turn, this brand image develops individual’s attitude towards that product.
Dominant theories of consumer behavior
Basically there are two approaches to the study of consumer behaviour: the behavioural approach and the cognitive approach. According to the behavioural theorists, individual’s behaviour is influenced by happenings/events in the external environment. While on the other hand, cognitive theorists believe that behaviour is the result of individual’s ability to gather process and store information (Consumer behaviour: How people make buying decisions, n.d). A number of varied approaches have been adopted in the study of consumer decision making process. Below mentioned are some dominant theories of consumer behaviour:
This family of philosophies asserts that behaviour is described by external events and that all things that individuals do, including feelings, thoughts and actions. The formation of behaviour is attributed to the variables that are external to individual. According to this approach, consumer behaviour is dependent of certain external events and more importantly, a specific behavioural pattern can be learned because of these external variables. However, Schiffman and et. al. (2007) argues that behaviourist approach to consumer behaviour has limited level of relevance to current market situation and therefore is not able to properly explain consumer behaviour on its own (Schiffman and et. al., 2007).
Cognitive theorists believe that individual’s behaviour and decision making is complex mental process that takes place as a result of deliberate and conscious information processing. Consumer make use active use of insight, creativity and information processing in order to make final decision. They are exposed to wide information about the new product or services or changes in existing ones on day to day basis; companies also make constant efforts to update consumers about their products, brand, features, price, quality and comparison with other competitive brands (Bandura, 1997). The consumer also develops mental images about varied brands through imagery that further leads to easy recall later on. Individual stores the knowledge they acquired and would retrieve this information as and when they want to satisfy a need through usage or purchase of product. Information processing and storage occurs in varying stages and degrees depending on consumer’s interest, information complexity as well his/her cognitive ability. This can be explained with the help of an example. An individual watches an advertisement for a product. When he pays attention to it, the inputs are processed and moved to his memory. These inputs could be brand name, symbol, logo or sign, attributes, price, message content, music, jingle or celebrity endorsing it. The ability to retain such information depends on individual’s cognitive ability. The theory states that the more input relates to individual’s need, relevance, interest, experience, familiarity, psychographic and demographic situation, the more likely it is to be remembered. Lot of information search in decision making process is internal, when buyer retrieves information from his memory. This is the main reason why more images, sounds, shapes and colours are used in advertisements.
Social cognitive theory:
This theory explains how an individual acquire and maintain behavioural patterns (Bandura, 1997). Understanding behavioural change depends on various factors related to environment, people and their behaviour. These three variables constantly influence each other. Environment refers to all those variables that can affect individual’s behaviour. There are physical (ambience, temperature etc) and social environments (family, friends and peers).
Type of situation and environment provide the framework for comprehending behavior. The situation can be defined as mental or cognitive mental representations of the environment that may influence individual’s behaviour. It leads to the person’s perception of the environment and thus governs the behaviour. Social psychologists believe that environment in which a person grows up significantly contributes to behaviour. The theory also states that a person learn by observing other and attributing to this, it can be rightly said that individual’s behaviour is influenced by others. A popular application of this theory is the use of celebrities for endorsing the products (Bussey and Bandura, 1999). Marketers make efficient use of celebrities to influence behaviour and actions of audience.
Bandura, A., 1997. Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. Freeman.
Bussey, K., and Bandura, A., 1999. Social cognitive theory of gender development and differentiation. Psychology Review. 106. pp.676-713.
Cheryl, B. W. and Tran, T., 2007. Consumer Gifting Behaviours: One for You, One for Me?. Services Marketing Quarterly. 29(2). pp1–17.
Consumer behaviour: How people make buying decisions. n.d. [pdf]. Available through: <http://www.saylor.org/site/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/BUS203-PoM-Ch3.pdf>. [Accessed on 3rd March, 2014].
Consumer Decision Making. n.d. [pdf]. Available through: <http://www.cengage.com/resource_uploads/downloads/0324548141_78369.pdf>. [Accessed on 3rd March, 2014].
Factors that influence consumer’s buying behaviour. 2013. [pdf]. Available through: <http://catalog.flatworldknowledge.com/bookhub/reader/5229?e=fwk-133234-ch03_s01>. [Accessed on 3rd March, 2014].
Schiffman, L. G. and et. al., 2007. Consumer Behaviour. 9th ed. Prentice Hall.