We all make decisions. In context of marketing, decisions can be regarding whether to make a purchase or not, which brand to be choose from the pool, which retail outlet to go to shop from, who will from the family will decide etc. All these questions are faced by the consumer but one may not go in the depth of such details every time, mainly because part or all of the required material is learned and stored in their unconscious mind and it doesn’t require active involvement. Decisions are of different levels and don’t need same amount of information to proceed with purchase.
A decision can be made by a group or coalition among consumer; such decisions are called synergetic of joint decisions, whereas the ones made by single member are referred as autonomic decisions.
Levels of Decision Making
As mentioned before, all decisions don’t require same amount of involvement, information and evaluation regarding a purchase. However there are three distinctive levels of decision making which are extensive problem solving, limited problem solving and routinized response.
1) Extensive problem solving requires great deal of information to develop criterion and standards which will evaluate specific brands to be choose from and even large pool of information to commit the final decision regarding purchase.
2) Limited problem solving applies when consumer has already set criterion for evaluation, but not fully established preferences. Therefore the additional information is obtained to shape the buying decision.
3) Routinized response behavior is depicted by a consumer has prior experience with the product category. In some instances no additional information is required as consumer already has hand on experience and knows what he wants.
The extensive of the information search regarding a decision depends upon the consumer preferences, and how much information he requires to make a specific decision. For example a consumer buying his first luxury car may browse through different sources to make the final decision whereas for others it might be an easy one.
Different Perspective of Consumer Decision Making
There are different models present to asses the behavior of consumer decision making and reasons underlying them;
1) Economic View: This perspective expresses that consumer is a rational buyer and operates in a perfect competition state where he has all the hand on information that he requires to come up with the decision.
2) Passive View: This view consider consumer a passive decision maker and can be easily fall for self-serving interest and promotional efforts of a marketers.
3) Cognitive View: This outlook presents that a consumer is a problem-solver and processes all the information to yield preferences that eventually transform into a buying decision.
4) Emotional View: It refers to the consumer decision making that follows a strong emotional desire for a product category/brand. Usually impulse buying behavior quoted for this school of thought.
Consumer decision making is a complex phenomena, it is a process that is affected by various factors and follows different approaches for each of the product category. Marketers are always into ways to influence that decision making.
Schiffman L. Kaunk L (2007) “consumer decision making and beyond” Consumer Behavior ninth Ed New York, Prentice hall, pg 524-552.