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Consumer Behavior Theories Overview

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Consumer buying behavior in accordance with Kotler (2004) defined as "the purchasing behavior of consumers - individuals and house holds who buy goods and services for personal consumption." "Consumers' term can be described as a person who purchases goods and services for self-satisfaction is often used to describe two different kinds of many faces: personal consumers and institutional customers. Individual consumers are buying goods and services for their own needs. In this context, goods are purchased for final use by individual, organizational and consumers that includes for profit and not for profit businesses, government agencies, institutions, all they have to purchase products, equipment and services to run their organization (Kotler, 2004).

Peter and Olson (1993) noted that the interaction between the peoples emotions, moods, feelings of love and the concrete is called the behavior of consumers, in other words, environmental events, which they exchange ideas and advantages of each called consumer behavior. Buying behavior of people who buy products for personal use and not for commercial purposes (Peter and Olson, 1993).

Physical actions of consumers who can directly observe and measure the other, by influencing the behavior of profit can be obtained (Kotler, Armstrong and Cunningham, 2002).

The study of consumer behavior has evolved in the early emphasis on rational choice (microeconomics and classical decision theory) to focus on the apparently irrational purchasing requirements (some studies of motivation) and the use of logical flow models of bounded rationality (Howard and Sheth 1989). The latter approach has depended on in what is often called "information-processing model (Bettman 1979). Processing model of information relating to consumers as a logical thinker who solves the problem to your purchasing decision (Holbrook and Hirschman 1980).

Compares the four basic approaches to creating successful interorganizational relationships and combines them into a single recipe for managing important relationships between firms (Palmatier, Dant, and Grewal, 2007). Service failed to meet the clients and the development of customer loyalty over time in the business-to-business markets.

Cyert (1956) was probably the first who noticed that the number of managers in addition to purchasing agents involved in the buying process, and the concept has been called "the purchasing behavior and popularized by Robinson (Faris and Win 1967). Webster and Wind (1972) known identified five roles purchases, they are: Users, Influencer, buyer, decisive and Gatekeeper (Webster and Wind, 1972). Further categories have been proposed, "the initiator" (Bonoma, 1981), and "analyst" and the viewer Wilson (Wilson, 1998 ).

This user does not always make the purchase decision of products. The buyer must purchase the product. Marketers must decide on whom to direct their advertising efforts, the buyer or user. They need to identify the person who is likely to influence decisions. If marketers understand consumer behavior, they are able to predict how consumers are likely to react to different information and environmental cues, and able to shape their marketing strategies accordingly (Kotler, 1994).

Affect consumer behavior in 3 dimensions, they acquire, use and disposal. The acquisition means that a consumer spends money on products such as leasing, trading and borrowing. Use of some consumers use products of high price and some consumers see the quality. Recycling is nothing but the distribution of the order and location of a particular product (Hoyer, Deborah, 2001).

By understanding consumer behavior profoundly different authors gave different information on consumer behavior, as a consumer buys a product, it includes four steps, they are: the need for recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision and behavior after the purchase, the marketer can take many tips, like how to meet customer needs and develop an effective program to support an attractive proposition for the target market (Kanuk, 1990).

Consumer Involvement Theory

The consumer involvement theory means that, how the consumer involving the purchase of various products in the market, after purchasing the product, how the consumer responding towards the products called consumer involvement theory.

The consumers get the information through advertising, for that they purchase, use, and react that they see and hear about the products that they buy (Barry, 1987).

Level of involvement an individual’s intensity of interest in a product and the importance of the product for that person, those are enduring involvement and situational involvement (Homewood IL & Irwin, 1987). Routinized response behavior is that the process used when buying frequently purchased, low-cost items that requires little search-and decision-effort (Homewood IL & Irwin, 1987).

The consumer involved in purchasing of products and usage and, also, various aspects like high involvement and low involvement in process of purchasing of products. The consumer some times involves high and low in purchasing products, so, theory of involvement is explaining that the consumer recognizes the importance of the purchase and it considers that the degree of perceived risk, moreover, it reflects on self image perhaps information processing may be different from one another (Ray, 1973).  The low involvement theory is explaining that the consumer would accept wide range of products with positive attitude with do-feel-learn strategy, firstly the consumer select any kind of product, use the product, if they are not sure about how to use the product, and they learn how to use the product. To purchase a new computer in market and using of the computer, if they are not satisfied then they go for learning of how to use the computer. The low involvement of consumer will be in manner that do-feel-learn strategy (Ray, 1973). In one of the consumer article author explained about the consumers, are influenced by television commercials and their relationship effectiveness of advertisements (Krugman 1987).

High involvement theory is rational and emotional, and it is explaining about the consumer’s participations in the context very actively without any hesitation, moreover, they look after extensive problem solving. In this theory of involvement the consumers learn about the product, use the product, if they are feeling that the product is comfortable to use it, and then they go for buying the product, so this is called high involvement because after usage, they definitely buy the products. The high involvement theory is reversible order to low involvement theory like learn-feel-do strategy (Debruicker, 1979).

How the involvement theory is useful, the emotions, specific feelings, learning of every product and involve when they want to use it and when they want to purchase it. So, this theory helps when the consumer purchasing any kind of product or after using the product.

Consumer Behavior Models

There are three types of models, which will explain about consumer’s process of basic needs to selecting one particular product, In order to process consumer behavior the following three models are important, the first and foremost model is that the Hierarchy model of consumer behavior, in this model the author said that, without any basic needs the consumer can not survive, so, the consumer should have some basic needs, which have been explained below, secondly the consumer behavior model. In this model author mentioned about research and planning, in this process, the researchers are taking samples from consumer before manufacturing the new products in the market. Finally, lens model has been explained that in order to choice/select a product by the consumer.

Hierarchy of Needs Model

Most early psychologists studied people who had psychological problems, but Maslow Hierarchy of Needs tells us about the needs of consumer behavior. Maslow believes that people seek to fulfill five categories of needs.

•        Physiological needs— for ex: food, water, sex, and clothing, shelter

•        Safety needs— for ex: security, freedom

•        Social needs— for ex: love, affection, and belongingness.

•        Esteem needs— for ex: respect, recognition, and self-worth.

•        Self-actualization needs— for ex: personal growth.

 Maslow’s given the hierarchy needs for consumer behavior, before starting about the consumer behavior, the consumer needs are important; usually every consumer have some hierarchy needs, they are; self actualization needs, esteem needs, belonging needs, safety and security needs and psychological needs (Simons, Irwin and Drinnien, 1987).

The self actualization needs: The term actualization means that the intrinsic growth of what is already in the organism, or more accurately, of what the organism is called self actualization needs. For example: one can play the music, he is called musician or artist, and one can paint the art is called painter, one can write the poems, is called poet. For surviving in competitive world one profession is important, this profession is not only for surviving, but also one kind of need for human being. In small words to understand simply one individual potentiality develop him by doing something; it is called the self actualization (Simons, Irwin and Drinnien, 1987).

The author suggests that the self actualization need is important when the consumer wants to survive, consumer came with new professions, and it is one kind of need, it will help the consumer to survive in this competitive world (Simons, Irwin and Drinnien, 1987).

Esteem needs: The term esteem means that need for things that reflect on self-esteem, personal worth, social recognition, and accomplishment, for example one can travel in the bus, motor bike, and car respectively, depends on his/her financial position they can travel. In this case travel is a need, so, in smaller words, if one can economically sound, then he/she arranges the esteemed need according to their financial possession (Simons, Irwin and Drinnien, 1987). The author said that, if she/he needs the esteem needs, then they should have good economic possession, if not no necessary to maintain the car or motor bike, it is very easy to use the public bus or walk  (Simons, Irwin and Drinnien, 1987).

Social needs: The social needs includes love of family or friends, for example, the boy loves his girl friend, the relationship between husband and wife, one child belongs to one family   This is called belongingness or love  (Simons, Irwin and Drinnien, 1987). This is one kind of need for every consumer, because every consumer has his or her personal belongingness and love.

Safety needs: The safety might include living in an area away from threats. This level is more likely to be found in children as they have a greater need to feel safe. For example one wants to live safe and secure life in the society. Finally, always consumer wants to live a life, which is safe and secured (Simons, Irwin and Drinnien, 1987).

Physiological needs: It includes the very basic need air, warmth, food, sleep, stimulation and activity. People can die due to lack of biological needs and equilibrium common needs like food, water, oxygen and other common minimum needs are wanted for every one to survive in the world. This is also a basic need of consumer (Simons, Irwin and Drinnien, 1987)

Consumer behavior model

The concept of consumer behavior model is that, all the consumer minds are not the same, because every consumer thinks in different manner and purchasing of products also different.

Nowadays the products are many, the consumer is attracting towards new products and its features. The manufacturing companies are designing the products, before manufacturing of new products the researchers are taking the samples for research from the consumers, after taking the samples from the consumers, researchers are doing the research about the products, it encourages companies to constantly innovate better ways to serve the consumer needs (Yeowzah, 2003).

The research & planning depending on product design, insights and action. As author saying about the design, if products designs are good then every consumer attracted towards purchasing of new products, the product design is possible only by doing research. The insights is nothing but the product features, the product features are depend upon good research and planning, without any research and planning there is no product as such. In between these two aspects the action takes place to do good research and to get good results in the market (Yeowzah, 2003).

The significance of consumer behavior decision theory in some cases consumer has clear and strong choice or preference for particular product to purchase. According to the customer preference, companies can increase their sales to develop the 4 P’s marketing to affect the customer preference and test. Company can design the product to attract the customer to make the better sales. To analyze the competitor activity and make the most battle plan to fight in to the market (Hauser, 1993).

 Lens Model

Lens model says that, the product features and perceptions are inter dependent, because the consumer see the product features before purchasing any product in the market, the product features arrow showing towards perception, the perception is nothing but understanding of the product, in this process consumer will understand about the product, after understanding the product, the perceptions is going to be preference of various products (Hauser, 1993).

In this process of preference product, the consumer prefers the products, after preferring the product, consumer select the particular product that is called choice. The final arrow showing towards choice, but this whole process depends on consumer psycho-social cues and availability & price of the products in the market (Hauser, 1993).

The second way is that the psychosocial cues and perceptions are also interdependent with the help of these two terms the consumer prefers the product and finally choose/select the product (Hauser, 1993).

The third way is that the consumer chooses the product with the help of psycho-social cues, which means psychological influences, understanding of the product and availability & price of the products (Hauser, 1993).


Author hopes this paper gives brief overview of contemporary consumer behavior theories and provides with basic insight into the subject. Nevertheless, marketing science is evolving rapidly; consequently, successful consumer behavior specialist is expected to hold a hand on the pulse of new theories. Author also would like to deem this paper as invitation for further study, thus the importance if the subject could hardly be overestimated.


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  11. Krugman, H. E. (1965), "The Impact of Television Advertising: Learning Without Involvement," Public Opinion Quarterly, 29 (Fall), p. 349-56
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