Analyzing consumer behavior is perceived as cornerstone of a successful marketing strategy (Papers4you.com, 2006). Consumer behavior is ‘ the mental and emotional processes and the observable behavior of consumers during searching purchasing and post consumption of a product and service(Batra & Kazmi, 2004) . Similarly Engel (et al, 1990) refers consumer behavior as the action and decision process of people who purchase goods and services for personal consumption.
Now if these defining criteria are closely observed, it is evident that analyzing consumer’s decision making process is the foundation of entire notion of consumer behavior
There are four different views related to consumer decision making process and behavior (Schiffman & Kanuk, 2004). It is argued that first of them is ‘economic view’ that consumers are primarily facing imperfect competition and they are always expected to make rational decision on the basis of assumptions that they are aware of all product alternatives, they can rank benefits and limitation of each alternative and are able to identify one best alternative. Second ‘Passive View’ is absolutely opposite to economic view and suggests that consumers are irrational and impulsive as they are submissive to self-centered interests of marketers and got influenced by marketing tools. Similarly third, ‘ Emotional View’ is related to perceive consumer’s decision making based on their emotional association or feeling about some products and services. For instance, a person loosing red color specific pen neither go for rational decision by evaluating alternatives ( economic view) nor will the person get influenced by marketers ( passive view). Rather the person will try to purchase any pen closely resembled with his favorite possession. Fourth and arguably most acknowledged view is ‘Cognitive View’ where consumers are considered as “thinking problem solver’ which are receptive as well as actively searching for the products and services that can fulfill their need. Consumer’s behavior under this view is based on information seeking and processing attributes usually directed by a goal. For instance, buying a tooth paste from shop can have a certain goal of choosing product that can taste good (Papers4you.com, 2006).
Despite of critiques for each viewpoint, it can be considered a valid argument, that all four types of decision making behavior exist and provide marketer guidelines to analyze consumer accordingly.
Based on general perception about most acknowledged and common ‘cognitive view’, Batra & Kazmi (2004) asserts broader stages of a consumer’s decision making process that includes problem identification (feeling need of a new car), information search ( on internet and showrooms), evaluation of alternatives (comparing brands, for instance’ on basis of repute and features), outlet selection and purchase ( purchasing selected item) and post-purchase action (satisfaction or dissonance).
The discussion may be concluded on the notion that no matter which view point out of four discussed above is common; it is an imperative fact that marketers have to realize existence of all of them to analyze consumer behavior effectively.
Batra, S, K & Kazmi, S,H,H ( 2004), ‘Consumer Behaviour- Text and Cases’, New Delhi: Excel Books