What is Consumer Behaviour?
A ‘consumer’ is someone, who recognizes a need /desire, explores for product/service to gratify that need, and consumes it so that the need gets fulfilled. In this process, several individuals might be involved, thereby affecting the process in turn. E.g., a father might buy a laptop for his son or daughter, although the need might be recognized by the latter (Noel, 2009).
According to Engel, Blackwell, and Miniard (1990), Consumer behaviour refers to “the mental and emotional processes and the observable behaviour of consumers during searching for, purchasing and post consumption of a product or service.”
Consumer Behaviour, as defined by Schiffman and Kanuk (2000), is the behaviour shown by consumers in searching for, purchasing, using, evaluating, and disposing of products and services, they consider will be able to satisfy their needs. It answers various questions like what the consumers buy, why they buy, when they buy, where they buy, how often they buy and use products (services), how it has been evaluated after the purchase, and its impact on future purchase decisions and finally, how it is disposed. A complete definition of consumer behaviour is as follows:
“Consumer Behaviour reflects the totality of consumers’ decisions with respect to the acquisition, consumption, and disposition of goods, services, activities, experiences, people, and ideas by (human) decision-making units (over time)” (Hoyer, MacInnis & Pieters, 2012). Therefore, decision-making is that process in which purchase decision is visible to us and the stages before it, which are affected by different variables. Thus, we can say that consumer behavior is the study of buyer decision making process leading to purchase and behavior after the purchase in light of various factors which affect purchase decision making and aftermath.
Consumer Decision Making Process
The consumer decision making process refers to steps to how buyers make their choices. The stages for the process, as provided by Schiffman and Kanuk (2000) and Kotler (2007), are elaborated below:
Need recognition: It is the first stage in the process. Here, the consumer recognizes a ‘problem’ or a ‘need’. There are two types of need recognition states: actual state and desired state. The actual state is when a product/service fails to perform up to a satisfactory level, which it is supposed to, while the desired state is when the motivation to buy a new product/service is felt.
Pre-purchase search: The pre-purchase stage starts when the consumer realizes that the need can be met by the purchase/consumption of a particular product/service. This search starts when either consumer looks into its past experiences, or he/she goes for an extensive search when there is no prior information or experience. Past experience is an internal source of information. The greater the pertinent past information available, the less is the need for external search (Schiffman & Kanuk, 2000). A consumer might also start paying more attention to information regarding a product/ service which satisfies its needs. This is known as ‘heightened attention’. On the other hand, a person might do a more ‘active’ search by gathering information (Kotler, 2007).
Evaluation of Alternatives: The evaluation of alternatives is done by two ways: first, the consumer looks into brands (models) to choose from, which form the evoked set, and second, a criteria is used to evaluate each brand (or, model). The set which consumer considers while making a purchase decision, is called the evoked set or the consideration set. The set of brands which consumer avoids or is indifferent because of them being inferior is called the inept set. A product/ service to be in consumers evoked set, needs to have ‘brand credibility’ which depends on its perceived quality, the risk associated, and the information costs saved with that brand (Schiffman & Kanuk, 2000).
Purchase Decision: This is the decision stage where consumer finally purchases the brand (or model) that he has selected. This stage is affected either by the attitude of others or unanticipated situational factors. These are known as ‘intervening factors’. If the attitude of ‘significant others’ to the brand is negative, then consumers will not buy the product. Moreover, several factors like loss of job or perceived risks (functional, social, psychological, etc.), can also lead to loss of a potential consumer (Kotler, 2007).
Post-Purchase Behavior: Post-purchase behavior is the evaluation of the purchase made by the consumer. The consumer either repeatedly purchases the product or (and) indulges in positive word of mouth, if the purchase meets expectations. The person might also avoid it or (and) indulge in negative word-of-mouth communication if the performance of the product purchase is lesser than expected (Kotler, 2007). The five-stage model of the consumer decision making process in a sequential manner is given below.
For Citing this article use:
- Ashraf, M. (2017). Involvement of Family in the Decision Making Processes for Select Services in India.