Marketers also need to be aware that consumer decision making varies with the type of buying decision. The decisions to buy toothpaste, a tennis racket, a personal computer, and a new car are all very different. In general, complex and expensive purchases are likely to involve more buyer deliberation and more participants. As shown in Table 3.2, Assael distinguished four types of consumer buying behavior, based on the degree of buyer involvement and the degree of differences among brands:24
^ Complex buying behavior applies to high-involvement products such as personal computers. Buyers may not know what attributes to consider in these products, so they do research. Knowing this, marketers can help educate buyers about product
The Consumer Buying Decision Process 97 Table 3.2 Four Types of Consumer Buying Behavior
Significant Differences between Brands
Complex buying behavior— applies when product is expensive, bought infrequently, risky, and self-expressive; buyer first develops beliefs about the product, then develops attitudes about it, and finally makes a thoughtful choice.
Dissonance-reducing behavior—applies when the product is expensive, bought infrequently, and risky; buyer shops around and buys fairly quickly, then later experiences dissonance but stays alert to information supporting the purchase decision.
Variety-seeking buying behavior—applies when buyer switches brands for the sake of variety rather than dissatisfaction; buyer has some beliefs about the product, chooses a brand with little evaluation, and evaluates the product during consumption.
Habitual buying behavior— applies when the product is low-cost and frequently purchased; buyers do not pass through normal sequence of belief, attitude, and behavior but instead make decisions based on brand familiarity.
Source: Modified from Henry Assael, Consumer Behavior and Marketing Action (Boston: Kent Publishing Co., I987), p. 87. Copyright © I987 by Wadsworth, Inc. Printed by permission of Kent Publishing Co., a division of Wadsworth, Inc.
attributes, differentiate and describe the brand's features, and motivate store personnel and others to influence the final brand choice.
^ Dissonance-reducing buyer behavior applies to high-involvement products such as carpeting. Carpeting is expensive and self-expressive, yet the buyer may consider most brands in a given price range to be the same. After buying, the consumer might experience dissonance after noticing certain disquieting features or hearing favorable things about other brands. Marketers should therefore supply beliefs and evaluations that help consumers feel good about their brand choices.
^ Habitual buying behavior applies to low-involvement products such as salt. Consumers keep buying the same brand out of habit, not due to strong brand loyalty, because they are passive recipients of information conveyed by advertising. Ad repetition creates brand familiarity rather than brand conviction. Marketers of such products can use price and sales promotions to entice new customers to try their products.
^ Variety-seeking buying behavior applies to low-involvement products such as cookies. In this category, consumers switch brands often because they want more variety. The market leader will therefore try to encourage habitual buying behavior by dominating the shelf space, keeping shelves stocked, and running frequent reminder ads. Challenger firms will encourage variety seeking by offering lower prices, coupons, free samples, and ads that offer reasons for trying something new.
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