Consumer behavior: Actions a person takes when purchasing and using products and services.

Consumer purchase decision process: Stages that a buyer passes through when making choices about which products or services to buy.


  • Problem recognition: perceiving a need: This is when a person realizes that the difference between what he or she has and what he or she would like is big enough to actually do something about it.
  • Information search, seeking value: Consumers search for information about what product or service will satisfy there newly discovered need. Internal search: for frequently purchased products such as shampoo, this may be enough. External search: Especially needed when one does not have much past experience or knowledge, the risk of a bad decision is high, and the cost of gathering info is low. Sources are friends, Internet, etc.
  • Alternative evaluation, assessing value: Creating your evaluative criteria, what you want this product or service to have. Example: Under 400$, battery life of 20 hours for an MP3 player.
  • Purchase decision, buying value: Three choices remain: the chosen brand, from whom to buy, and when to buy. This will depend on if there are sales, location of suppliers, store atmosphere, salesperson persuasiveness…
  • Post purchase behavior, value in consumption or use: After buying a product, the consumer compares it with his or her expectations and is either satisfied or dissatisfied. This strongly affects the value a customer perceives after the purchase. Satisfaction or dissatisfaction affects consumer communications and repeat-purchase.

Involvement and problem-solving variations

Involvement: The involvement level of a customer reflects how carefully a consumer will look at the 5-step purchase decision process. The level of involvement depends on the consumers personal, social and, and economic consequences of that purchase.

Routine problem solving: For products such as salt and milk, consumers recognize a problem, make a decision and spend little effort seeking external information and evaluating alternatives. It is basically a habit.

Limited Problem solving: Consumers typically seek some information or rely on a friend to help them. Items such as jeans, a restaurant are good examples.

Extended problem solving: In extended problem solving, each of the five stages are used in the purchase, including considerable time.

Situational influences:

  • Purchase task: The reason for engaging in the decision in the first place.
  • Social surroundings: Including the other people present when a purchase decision is made.
  • Physical surroundings: Such as decor, music, and crowding in retail stores may alter how purchase decisions are made.
  • Temporal effects: Such as time of day or amount of time available.
  • Antecedent states: Which include the consumer’s mood or the amount of cash on hand.

Psychological influences on consumer behavior:

Motivation: Energizing force that stimulates behavior to satisfy a need.


  • Physiological needs: Basic to survival and must be satisfied first.
  • Safety needs: Involved self-preservation and physical well-being. Smoke detector and burglar alarm manufacturers focus on these needs.
  • Social needs: Concerned with love and friendship. Ex: Dating service
  • Personal needs: Need for achievement, status and self-respect. Ex: American express gold card
  • Self-actualization needs: Personal fulfillment. Ex: Vacation trips

Personality: A person’s consistent behavior or responses to recurring situations.

Perception: Process by which someone selects, organizes, and interprets information to create a meaningful picture of the world.

Selective perception: Process for which the brain organizes and interprets information from an information rich-environment.

Selective exposure: Occurs when people pay attention to messages that are consistent with their attitudes and beliefs and ignore messages that are inconsistent.

Selective comprehension: Involves interpreting information so that it is consistent with your attitudes and beliefs.

Perceived risk: Represents the anxieties felt because the consumer cannot anticipate the outcomes of a purchase but believes that there may be negative consequences.

author avatar
William Anderson (Schoolworkhelper Editorial Team)
William completed his Bachelor of Science and Master of Arts in 2013. He current serves as a lecturer, tutor and freelance writer. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, walking his dog and parasailing. Article last reviewed: 2022 | St. Rosemary Institution © 2010-2024 | Creative Commons 4.0

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