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Models of Consumer Behaviour

 Models and role of models

A model is an abstract conception of the real world situation. The question is why do we
need an abstract conception? Real world situation is very complex, where many force
work simultaneously as a result it is difficult to understand the working of the process
and hence, predicting future course of action. Models are use to simplify these problem.
They give the researcher a guide line to work with, clarifying the relation between the
various factors and their ‘likely’ impact on the main process. For example what role
market plays on consumers. If we can formalize it, appropriate marketing strategies can
be formed to shape up consumer’s buying behaviour.
Consumer behaviour is a multistage process, and actual buying comes at a much later
stage. It becomes crucial for the marketer to understand the initial stage so that they are
able to predict the buying stage, this makes the study of consumer behaviour models
almost mandatory. Consumer behaviour model serve two distinct functions-

(a) They explain the factors that affect purchase of a particular type of goods and
(b) They allow future prediction to be made and are able to assess the likely out
comes of various marketing strategies.

In order to perform the above mention functions, the consumer behaviour model must be
relevant (must be as much as possible near to the market situation). Comprehensive (they
should not be vague and poorly constructed) and valid (the out come predicted by the
model should be testable and verifiable). If these
Qualities are maintained in the model, and then the model becomes not only useful tools
but essential tools for the market.

 Types of Models
Market researcher traditionally uses economic models to predict the consumer behaviour.
The concept of price, income etc. and their relation to buying behaviour to predict the
outcome, But in reality it was found socio psychological factor go to great extant in
forming a buying behaviour. As a result marketer started using psychological models to
predict the buying behaviour. Whether pure economic models were used or pure
psychological models were used. The researcher were using monadic models, i.e. using
only one discipline of study. Real buying behaviour is affected and influenced by
economic, sociological, psychological, environmental and various other factors
simultaneously. Thus the eclectic models or multivariable models which take into
account all these influences simultaneously are much more comprehensive and
relevant .although checking the validity of all these models become relatively difficult.

Monadic Models of Consumer Behaviour

 Elasticity Models
This is a pure economic, more precisely, micro economic model. The model says, as the
price increases, other things remain constant ( ceterisparibus ), demand of the commodity
will go down. By how much it will go down, will depend on the nature of the
commodity. For example in case of diamond which is a non essential luxury commodity.
Even if the price goes up slightly, demand will fall by a larger margin. Diamond is
therefore, known as highly price elastic, while a commodity like petrol will not be very
cheap, but life comes to a stand still with out it, if price of petrol increases, people cannot
reduce the consumption, and in general decrease in quantity is much less than the
increase in price. All such commodity are call price inelastic (this sets a relation in
between the change in consumer income and change in the quantity demanded.)

 Response Hierarchy Model

The models attempt to predict the sequence of mental stage that the consumer passes
through on the way to purchase. Like elasticity model, which was purely economic this
model is purely psychological. There are three mental stages, namely cognitive, affective
and behavioral.

Cognitive stage deals with creation of knowledge or awareness in the mind of the
consumer. The next stage is concerned with developing an interest in the mind of
consumer which will result in developing an attitude or change in attitude towards the
specific product. The attitude formation finally bring us to the behaviour formation .The
buying behaviour. one of the most popular response hierarchy models is the AIDA
model. AIDA model stands for attention, interest, desire and action, depicting the
sequence of mental stage that the consumer passes through before the action of buying.

Response hierarchy model.






 The Black Box Model

Black box model is also called as stimulus response model. Consumers mind and thought
processing is treated like a “black box” which cannot be open to find out how it is
working. The model highlight the in puts stimulus like a promotional advertisement and
resulted out put, the purchase behaviour as shown in below:-
Black box model although does not go to describe as how purchase behaviour is formed,
but mention personality, motivation and attitude and learning process as the factors
standing in between input stimulus out put behaviour . later on market researcher have
develop the model into complex multivariable model.
As mentioned
earlier monadic theories fail to explain the complex multifaceted buying behaviour as a
consumer is a mixture of rational (highlighted by economic price elasticity model) and
emotional and cognitive (highlighted by the psychological models) buyer.




Many times, price of certain loyalty, (a learning experience), or has a strong preference
for a particular product. Buying for a CRY(child relief and you) card as it has a social
benefit (an attitude formation). At other times the rational behaviour becomes prominent.
If there is a persistent increase in LPG and kerosene prices, which is happening in a
phased manner due to liberalization process, consumer will find other means of cooking,
like solar cooker or electric ovens. As a result demand for LPG will come down.

Multivariable Models of Consumer

More comprehensive and relevant models formalizing the multiple influences on the
purchase decision are multivariable models. Consumer is taken as a problem solver, the
problem is “to buy or not to buy” the consumer receives information from various
sources which is processed in the central processing unit (the mind), influenced by the
external environment like economic, social, cultural and psychological. Some of the well
known multivariable models are:-


The model explains the buyer decision process using six sets of variables as can be seen

• IN-PUT VARIABLES: These include information in puts about the alternative

services or products available including rational and emotional elements. For ex. The
customer want to posses a standard charted gold card, he will seek information
regarding the facility of that card, the interest charged and will also effected by the
promotional ad of standard charted gold card.
• BEHAVIOURAL DETERMINANTS: These variable are the pre-existing
element in consumers mind and existing predisposition of the consumer influenced by
his culture, family and other such factors. Behavioral determinants do not play an overt
role never the less play a significant role in buying decisions. While buying the standard
charted gold card. If the potential buyer consider processing the a credit card as a status
symbol, or he is a frequent buyer of expensive items, these bear a positive impact on his
decision on owning the card.

• PERCEPTUAL REACTION: Information’s from inputs are not accepted at

their face values by the consumer but are proposed in the mind of the consumer and
than interpreted. For Ex. A person who is serious about the possessing a gold card will
compare the advantage and disadvantage with other similar credit card. He will seek
information actively. He will go out of the way to get information. Try to assimilate as
far as possible and filter all the information’s he thinks important. As not so interested
person may also receive the sensitive information and hence wont filter much of it for
processing purpose.

• PROCESSING DETERMINANTS--- These are the factor effecting as to how

the gathered information is evaluated. factor effecting are, motivation and the past
relevant experience (the learning process). Learning process will include experience
about the product and also the post purchase service. Consumer may apply some judge
mental criteria to evaluate the alternatives. This “SUBJECTIVITY” element is crucial in
the whole process. Result of the market and the marketing research can be useful to
identify and assess the subjectivity element in the consumer buying process.

• IN HIBITORS: These are the external constraints, inhibiting the actual or

potential purchaser behaviour. For processing the gold card. the inhibitors can be ;-






 OUT PUT VARIABLES--- The outcome of the process of interacting elements

may result in the purchase decision, not to purchase or post dated purchase.

Howard sheath model has a number of distinct futures like – it highlights the role of
consumer satisfaction, which consumer seeks in relation to the purchase of goods and
services. Along with this, the model also highlights the need to clearly understand the
motivational force which guides the purchase behaviour. Models bring out the buying
process is the product of the objectives (rational) as well as subjective (emotional)
Howard and Ostlund model is an improvement on the Howard Sheth model, in terms of
greater predictability of the consumer buying decision. However, the model is more
complex then the Howard Sheth model as can be seen.

Although the model is more comprehensive, it is extremely difficult to understand, more

so because variables are divided into “contents variables”. i.e. which deals with what the
buyers think--- brand comprehension, personal attitudes, etc. and “structural” variables
i.e. how the buyer thinks ----media selection process, perceptual bias etc.



AND BLACKWELL, but has undergone several revisions. In 1990, the most recent
version has come out, given by Engel, Blackwell and Miniard the model shown below:-
the basis of the model takes the simple process of consumer behaviour, as a decision
process comprising of five major activities over the period of time

These are:-
(a) Need recognition.

(b) Search for information.

(c) Alternatives evaluation.

(d) Purchase.

(e) Outcomes.
The influencing variables on these activities are: stimulus in puts like information for
mass media, personal contacts and general market sources. Information processing
involves the active memory where information is stored and from where information can
be retrieved. Next variable is decision making process. This involves search process,
evaluation process, and purchase process. Fourth variable influencing the five activities
is the environmental influence.

This variable includes all exogenous variables, crucial for the consumers buying
process, like income, family, culture, social class, physical situation, etc. of the consumer
The starting point of the process is the consumer perception of the want which has to be
satisfied. This stimulates the next stage, namely, search for information. This can further
divide in to two stage- customer search internally. “memory search” and “external
search” the search process identifies various ways in which the problem can be solved,
each way is evaluated. Like cost benefit analysis. This stage involves comparing brands,
and at the end of the evaluation stage.

There may be a change in belief regarding the brands, which in turn, lends to change in
attitudes and intensions to purchase. This stages lends to purchase stage, purchase of the
most favorably evaluated brand. If the purchased product result in dissatisfaction, the
search behaviour is bought back (negative outcomes of the purchase activity) or else the
purchase behaviour is repeated as and when need arises.
Like Howard s model, this model is also comprehensive and the greatest strength is the
flexibility of the model. When dissatisfaction arises from one activity, the buyer goes
back to some earlier activity. While the weakness of the model is in describing the role of
certain influencing variables, the models is rather vague. For example the role of
environmental factor is not clearly mentioned as how it effect the buying process.


FRANCESCO Nicosia gave a consumer behaviour model based on the techniques of the
computer flow charting with feed back loops. As shown below;
To make the consumer accept a particular product . Andresen believed that the model
will be useful “as a detailed organizing concept for marketing decision makers who must
take customers decision explicitly in to account when employing either or both of these
Attitude formation and change are central concept of this model. There is a distinction
between what is actual in formation and how people passed through perception corridor.
In fact, channels of communications channels also subject to perceptual judgement. A
marketer should try to build a favorable attitude in consumer. Andresen s model is
comprehensive, but is highly complex as it brings in the complex concept of consumers
learning an attitude formation as a integral parts of model building.


Given the fact that much of marketing communication activities are related to the
launching of new product. Developing a consumer behaviour model especially for
finding how consumer “adopt” the product is highly beneficial for the marketer.
ROGER defines the “DIFFUSION” as the process by which an “INNOVATION” is
communicated over tine among the individuals with in society who constitute the target
market. Is any new product or service that is coming to the market . ROGER suggested
that diffusion of innovated product follows a “NORMAL CURVE” while it permeates
through the classes of consumer.

There are five categories of consumer involved in this whole process of diffusion of
(1) INNOVATORS --- They are venturesome individuals who are willing to try new
ideas and consume new products. Sometimes, the product is so new that at time there are
certain defects it is less then perfect.

(2) EARLY ADOPTERS--- They are opinion leaders with in the particular industry
or social groups. These peoples are willing to try new ideas ahead of others. but, who
makes careful assessment of potential risk before trying or using the new product.

(3) EARLY MAJORITY--- These people try the innovated products, services or ideas
ahead of rest of the masses or gentry. They hold up their purchase till they get favorable
information from the early adaptors.
(4) LATE MAJORITY--- They are risk averse and unadventurous. They take the new
product when it is well listed in the market.

(5) LAGGARDS --- They buy the new product when the new product no more
remains new. The speed by which the new product gains acceptance and it is adopted by
all types of consumers varies from product to product. The speed is much higher in case
of easily understood consumer products, like kitchenware, consumer non-durables like
soft-drinks etc. while in case of technically complex products the speed is much lower.

The Models of Family Decision Making

Certain products and services like washing machine, an automobile, buying a house,
planning for a holiday are all family decision. Members of the family interact with each
other in the process of buying decision. These interactions are determined by the
different consumption related “ROLES” played by the family. These roles are as

1. INFLUENCER- The family members who provide information, and guide others,
in the other words influencing the decision. Children may come back from school and
tell about lovely visiting place, their classmates have visited; the wife visited the newly
opened super market and tells her husband to visit it with the family over the weekend.

2. GATE KEEPERS- The family members who control the flow of information and
guidance to buy . the house wife want to buy a particular brand of washing machine, she
will with hold the information about other brand and emphasis the information about the
favored brand , influencing the buying process of the washing machine.

3. DECIDERS- The family members who have powers (single or jointly) to decide
the buying of the product or services. Husband and wife jointly decide the place to be
visited during the summer vocation. Wife alone decide the powder which she is going to
purchase, mother and children decide which curtain will better for the children bed room.
They all decider with in the family.

4. BUYERS- The family member or members who actually buy the product or
services. The child must be the decider of which drinking chocolate he want to consume
but mother is the person who is buying it.

5. PREPARERS- The family members who transform or prepare the product in to

the form in which it is consumed. The house wife may prepare the lunch by using
vegetables, spice, oil, etc. bought from the market.

Role played by the different family members will be different products. For Ex.
Mother goes to buy chocolate drinks for her children. After going through various
brand, she decide to buy one. She is decider and buyer both but not the user, husband
is getting watch of his wife’s choice. He is only a buyer while his wife is the decider
an user. in case of product or services which is jointly used by every one , like a
planned vocation, furniture watching a movie are all jointly family based decision.

A model represents theoretical construction of phenomenon which is thought to be inter-
related and significant in influencing the outcomes of a specific problem. Model
consumer behaviour work as a guideline in marketing problem and its importance cannot
be ruled out.