In this article, we are going to critically examine buying situations as it affects Consumer Behavior. The complexity of the buyers’ behavior will vary according to the nature of the products involved. The buyer behavior involved in buying a cigarette cannot be equated with that of buying a new pair of shoes or a car. The appreciation of this fact has given rise to the three buying situations, namely-routinized buying behavior, limited problem solving, and extensive problem solving.
i) Routinized Response Behavior
This type of behavior is associated with the purchase of low cost, frequently purchased items. The buyers know the product class, the major brands/attributes, and have defined the order of preference among the brands. This may also be referred to as the habitual brand choice. But buyers can also be influenced in trying other brands due to stock out situation, special offers, and desire to try other varieties.
The products under this category are described as low-involvement goods because habit plays a predominant role in the purchase of such goods.
What should the marketer do?
A) For current buyers – The marketer should provide positive reinforcement by doing the following:
- Maintains consistency in quality
- Ensures stock availability
- Offers value which is consistent with the price
- Ensures consistent supply of the brand to intermediaries.
B) For potential buyers – the brand should break normal buying routines by emphasizing features/benefits, point of purchase display, premiums, etc
ii) Limited Problem Solving
The buyer under this buying situation has information problem. He is familiar with the product class, but not with most of the brands. Here are some limited decision making examples. Let us assume that a potential buyer wants to buy a good wrist watch. He knows of the following brands – Seiko, Rolex, Omega, but he has also heard of Timex, but has no information on it. He may, therefore, decide to do some more research on the quality and price of Timex before reaching the decision to buy any of the brands.
What should the marketer do?
He should design a communication program that will enhance buyer’s brand comprehension and confidence. For purposes of illustration, let us assume a product class (soft drinks). The brands include Coke, Limca, Fanta, Gold Spot, Team, and Crush. Let us assume further that the consumer does not know much about the crush brand. The consumer will, therefore, seek for information from the media, friends, agents, and sales persons.
iii) Extensive Problem Solving
Buying reaches its greatest complexity when buyers face unfamiliar product class without any known criteria for decision-making. Let us take computers for example. Mr John had heard so much of computers and felt he needed to own one. He has heard of IBM Computers, Panasonic Computers, and Apple Computers. He does not know the attributes of any of the brands, so he has to search for information on all of them. The buyer will be interested in knowing about the attributes, prices, after sales services, guarantees and warrantees. Weights could be attached to the features to help management in decision making. To do this requires time, money, and patience. He could, however, overcome this agony by engaging an expert on computers to advise him.
Subdivisions Involved In The Buying Decision
The buying decision is a collection of decisions. A buyer may ultimately make the following sub-decisions before buying any brand. These are shown below with accompanying illustration using drinks.
- Need-Class Decision Thirst
- Generic-Class Liquid Drinks
- Product-Class Non-Alcoholic Drinks
- Product-Form Decision Malt Drinks
- Brand Decision. Guinness Malt
- Vendor Decision ABZ Restaurant
- Quantity Decision One bottle
- Timing Decision Lunch Time
- Payment-Method Decision Cash Payment.
As we proceed further, we will be looking at the models of Consumer Behavior, analyzing in details the various models, and how it affects the buying decision process.
If you missed the first article on Consumer Behaviour, please go over and read it right away. It will help you better understand the teachings, and the next article we are about publishing.