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Chapter 9

Customer Decision
Evaluation and Choice
Consumer Behavior: A Framework
John Mowen and Michael Minor
Key Concepts
 Generic Decision-  Consideration set
making process  Alternative
 3 perspectives on
decision making
 Impulse and variety
 Choice processes
seeking purchases  High involvement
 Problem recognition choice models
 Search processes  Low involvement
choice models
Consumer Decision Making
 Defined as the processes involved
in analyzing problems, search for
solutions, evaluating alternatives,
choosing among options, and
evaluating outcomes.
 Consumers make decisions to
reach goals
Generic Decision Making
 Problem recognition
 Search
 Alternative evaluation
 Choice
 Postacquisition evaluation
Alternative Perspectives
on Consumer Decision
 Decision Making: emphasizes the rational,
information processing approach to decision making
 Experiential Perspective: emphasizes that consumers
are “feelers” as well as thinkers, that consumers are
symbolic, and that consumers buy in order to obtain
sensations and emotions.
 Behavioral Influence: contingencies of the
environment influence behavior, e.g., lighting,
physical arrangement of space, and strong
Problem Recognition
 Occurs when a discrepancy develops
between an actual and a desired state.
(This definition is identical to that for needs.)
 Factors affecting actual state: product depletion, failure
of product to meet expectations.
 Factors affecting desired state: goals, aspirations, and
changes of circumstances
 Consumption visions: self-constructed mental simulations
of future consumption situations—e.g., romantic dinner
for 2.
 Pre-need goods: the anticipation of future needs, such as
insurance, burial services, home loan, etc.
Search Behavior
 Defined as the actions taken to identify and obtain
information to solve a consumer problem.
 Types of search
 Internal: the retrieval of information from long-

term memory.
 External search: acquiring information from

outside sources, such as friends, books,

magazines, etc.
 Pre-purchase search: search that results directly

from problem recognition occurring.

 On-going search: search for intrinsic reasons that

is independent of a specific need. Frequently

occurs among hobbyists.
Internal Search
 5 categories of information may be retrieved
as a result of internal search
 Awareness set: total universe of options recalled
from memory.
 Unawareness set: options not recalled.
 Consideration set: the subset of options
acceptable for further consideration
 Inert set: subset to which indifferent
 Inept set: subset considered unacceptable.
External Search
 Measuring external search:
 use number of—stores visited, friends contacted, buying
guides consulted, etc.
 Measure extent of reliance on a particular source, which is
called instrumentality of search.
 Factors Influencing Degree of External Search
 Search until marginal gains exceed marginal costs.
 Involvement—increases search
 Time available—increases search
 Perceived risk—increases search
 Attitudes toward shopping—increases search
 Higher education, income, SES—increases search
How Much Consumer
 Research suggests that consumers
search surprisingly little. Why?
 Extensive on-going search/pre-
purchase search
 Enduring involvement
 High costs and few benefits of search
 High brand loyalty
 Self-report surveys may understate
actual search
Alternative Evaluation
 In this stage, the consumer compares the options identified
as potentially capable of solving the problem that initiated
the decision process.
 During this comparison process, consumers form beliefs,
attitudes, and intentions about the alternatives under
 The goal of alternative evaluation is to gain the information
needed to make final choice.
 The material in Chapter 7 on Attitudes, Beliefs, and
Behaviors describes alternative evaluation.
The Consumer Choice
 Choice is among alternative brands
and services, and among stores

 Noncomparable alternatives are

two or more choice options in
different product categories, such
as deciding whether to buy a new
stereo or a new television
High- and Low-Involvement
 Compensatory models are used in high-
involvement conditions and allow high
ratings on one attribute to compensate for
low ratings on another
 Noncompensatory models are used in low-
involvement situations and emphasize that
high ratings on some attributes will not
compensate for low ratings on another
High-Involvement Choice
 With compensatory models an alternative is not
necessarily rejected because it has low ratings
on any particular attribute.
 Multi-attribute models are employed in which
information on attributes is combined into an
overall judgment, and the brand with the
highest overall judgment is chosen.
 Fishbein Attitude Toward the Object Model
illustrates a compensatory, multi-attribute
Low-Involvement Choice
 The Conjunctive Rule: set minimum cut-off and
eliminate all options below it on any attribute.
 Disjunctive Rule: set cut-off (high) and accept
options above it on any attribute.
 Elimination by Aspects. Rank order attributes
in importance. Take top ranked attribute and
eliminate any option not surpassing cut-off. Go
to next attribute and do same. Continue until
one option left.
Low Involvement choice,
 The Lexicographic Heuristic: rank order attributes.
Select option rated highest on most important
attribute. If a tie, go to the next attribute, etc.
 The Frequency Heuristic. Select the option with
the most positive attributes. Piecemeal report
strategy exemplifies: Chrysler 5th Avenue out
accelerates a Mercedes, has more trunk room than
an Audi, has more leg room than a BMW, and a
longer service warranty than a Jaguar.
A Phased Strategy . . .
 is when consumers sequentially use two
noncompensatory models, or first use a
noncompensatory model and then a compensatory
 Which choice approach do consumers most
frequently use?
 Lexicographic may be most frequent followed by

 Phased strategies are also frequently used, and

they tend to begin with the use of a conjunctive

model to narrow the choice set to a manageable
number of options.
Experiential Choice
 The Affect-Referral Heuristic. Choice based on
overall affective reaction.
 The Effects of Brand Awareness: produces
pioneering advantage.
 Impulse Purchases. Mindless reactive behavior.
 Variety seeking.
 Effects of Mood States. Positive moods resulted in
favorable responses to emotional appeals.
Negative moods resulted in more favorable
responses to informational appeals.
Tire Plant Choice
Attribute Import Tulsa Arkansas Kansas

Labor 2 8 6 5
Transporta 4 7 7 5

Site 3 4 5 5
Low build 1 8 4 9

Notes: A. “Import” is the importance of the attribute. A

10 point constant sum scale was used in which the ratings
add to 10.
B. Now determine choice based upon compensatory
Choices Among Non-
Comparable Alternatives
 Two findings
 In some cases consumers focus on more
abstract attributes that can be compared
across product domains, such as price when
comparing buying a new car or taking a trip
to Europe.
 In other cases, consumers use a wholistic
strategy in which they compare overall
attitudes by using an affect referral
Choices Among Stores
 Consumers consider store attributes such as
distance from consumer's home, overall prices of
brands carried, and service
 The decision context is a factor that influences store
choice. Contextual factors include: the types of
stores available, the number of stores available, and
the availability of mail-order alternatives
 Store choice sets: stores can be placed into
consideration sets, inept sets, etc. Another way of
categorizing stores is by: (a) an interaction set
(where consumer allows salesperson to talk to
them) and a quiet set (where no interaction takes
Some Illustrative
Managerial Applications
 Positioning: products can be positioned based
upon the “desired state” that consumers seek.
 Environmental analysis: environment has a
large impact on search behavior, e.g., the
number of stores in a region influences store
choice. Also assess the effects of the physical
environment on consumers.
 Market research: use research to investigate
the extent of external search by consumers,
the level of consumer involvement, and the
type of choice process used.
Applications continued…
 Marketing Mix: the identification of important attributes
in the choice process will impact both product
development and promotional strategy. For example, if
consumers employ a lexicographic choice process, it is
critical to for brand to be rated highest on the most
important attribute. Thus, create product and
promotional strategy accordingly.
 Segmentation: Consumers can be segmented by their
degree of search and by whether they engage in pre-
need search. Also consumers can be segmented based
upon their dominant desired state.