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Chapter 9

Customer Decision
and AChoice
Consumer Behavior:
John Mowen and Michael Minor

Key Concepts

Generic Decisionmaking process

3 perspectives on
decision making
Impulse and variety
seeking purchases
Search processes

Consideration set
Choice processes
High involvement
choice models
Low involvement
choice models

Consumer Decision

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
Alternative evaluation
Postacquisition evaluation

Alternative Perspectives
on Consumer Decision
Decision Making: emphasizes the rational,
information processing approach to decision

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

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 situationse.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 longterm 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 ofstores 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.

Involvementincreases search
Time availableincreases search
Perceived riskincreases search
Attitudes toward shoppingincreases search
Higher education, income, SESincreases search

How Much Consumer


Research suggests that consumers

search surprisingly little. Why?

Extensive on-going search/prepurchase 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
During this comparison process, consumers
form beliefs, attitudes, and intentions about
the alternatives under consideration.
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 attribute

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
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

Low build

Import Tulsa




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 NonComparable 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
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