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

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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

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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.

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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.

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