In this article we will discuss about:- 1. Consumer Behaviour – Meaning and Definition 2. Consumer Buying Process 3. Types of Consumer Behaviour 4. Buying Motives 5. Factors.

Consumer Behaviour Meaning and Definition:

Consumer is the pivotal point in marketing. Consumer behaviour is very complex and is influenced by various factors. All the consumers have different tastes and preferences, likes and dislikes and they adopt different behaviour patterns while purchasing goods. In this light it becomes important for the marketing manager to understand his consumer and his behaviour before he formulates his marketing strategy. The behaviour of consumer as to why they buy a product?

What motivates them to buy a product? What induce him to buy? Why he switches from one product to another? How does he react to a new product? etc. is very important here. Marketer should collect answer to these questions before he goes to formulate his marketing strategy. Thus, detail knowledge about the consumer, his behaviour, buying motives and habits provide us with reasons why consumer differ from one to another in buying and using product and services.

The term Consumer behaviour is the behaviour shown by the consumer at the time of searching, purchasing, using, and disposing of product and services which satisfy his needs and wants. It is concerned with the activities of individuals in buying and using the goods and services.


It includes the decision making process that precedes his actual purchase. The study of behaviour is the study of individuals i.e. how they take decisions to spend their available resources i.e. time, money and effort on buying goods and services.

Prof. Philip Kotler defines Consumer behaviour as “the study of how individual, groups and organisation select, buy, use and dispose of goods and services, ideas or experiences to satisfy their needs and wants.”

American Marketing Association defines Consumer behaviour as “the dynamic interaction of affect and cognition, behaviour and environmental events by which human being conduct the exchange aspect of their lives.”

Prof. Bearden and Associates defines Consumer behaviour as “the mental and emotional processes and the physical activities of the people who purchase and use goods and services to satisfy particular needs and wants.”


Consumer behaviour thus, relates to all social, psychological and physical behaviour of potential customers as they become aware of the product, evaluate its features, purchase the goods, consume it and tell others about the product and services.

Consumer Buying Process:

To understand consumer behaviour, it important to first understands consumer buying process. Buying process represent different stages through which the consumer goes through when he has to purchase something. Consumer has a bundle of desires, needs, out of which the pressing needs move to the top. This is known as need recognition. After this consumer searches relevant informa­tion related to product on the basis of which decision is taken and purchase is made.

After consuming the product the post purchase behaviour is evaluated and a dissatisfied customer again has an unsatisfied need, and the process starts again. Each stage in the consumer buying process is a challenge to the marketer, for which he must have a careful understanding of behaviour before he develops the marketing programme.


The various stages in consumer buying process are:

1. Need Recognition:

The starting point of the buying process is an unsatisfied need. It is the perceived want or desire that paves the way for next stage. As we know every customer has bundle of desire or needs, many of which are not satisfied. When such unfulfilled needs are identified, the buying process starts. It is important to note that need recognition should be of those needs without whose satisfaction, consumer is restless and under tension. He should feel that he has desire or need which has arisen and which needs to be satisfied.

Dissatisfaction from the existing product or service may also give rise to restlessness and again a need to satisfy the urge. Need or wants arise due to internal or external situations. A person may be having deep rooted desires which may suddenly become dominant and pressing under conducive environment.


Needs may also arise due to external situations where consumer is exposed to different advertisements and people. It is the intensity or urgency of wants which decides the speed at which it has to be satisfied. The pressing or urgent wants are first satisfied as resources are limited.

2. Information Search:

For satisfying the need which has aroused, he has to look for suitable product which will best satisfy his needs. For this, consumer is willing to gather more information about the product. Alternative sources are there from where information can be gathered.

He may contact his family, friends, colleagues, neighbours who are personal sources, or he may look for commercial sources like – advertisement, retailers etc. or he may look at other people which constitute the public source. In this way before purchasing the product, he tries to collect the relevant information, as he is willing to satisfy this need.


3. Evaluation:

The desire to satisfy need, gives way to evaluation stage where the consumer try to evaluate the information he has received in the pre- purchase stage of information search. This is a stage of mental trial of the product by consumer. On the basis of the information received, he has number of alternatives before him, out of which he has to choose one.

His selection will be based on the relative worth of each alternative i.e. how suitable the product will be to satisfy his wants i.e. product’s want satisfying potential. On the basis of factors like- product attributes, brand image, facilities, convenience, etc. he accepts or rejects the alternatives. His final decision to buy will depend upon the relative strength of the positive intention to buy.

4. Purchase Decision:


The positive decision or evaluation of product leads to purchase decision. This decision implies consumer’s commitment for a product or a service. Here he purchases the product and exchange process is thus complete. Purchase can be trial purchase or adoption purchase.

Trial purchases are mostly done for non-durable goods where the consumer buys the goods for the first time. For consumer durable goods, adoption purchase is done because; these items are not purchased frequently. On consuming the goods, consumer may be satisfied or dissatisfied. Satisfaction leads to repeat purchase.

5. Post Purchase Reaction:

This stage is concerned with the behaviour of the consumer after he consumes the product. This post-purchase reaction may be positive or negative. If consumer is satisfied, repeat purchase may be there or he may recommend the product to other people. Dissatisfaction leads to anxiety and makes a person restless. He has a problem before him and again he tries to solve it by going for other alternative products or services.


A marketer help the buyer feel good about the product purchased. In order to reduce his anxiety about the product, the after-sale services are very important as it develops loyalty, increases sales and profit.

Types of Consumer Behaviour:

An important worth-mentioning information on types of consumer behaviour as given by Henry Assael has been reproduced here. Consumer decision making varies with the type of buying decision. There is a great difference between buying toothpaste, a tennis racket, a personal computer and a new car.

The more complex and expensive decisions are likely to involve more buyer deliberation and more buying participants. Henry Assael distinguished four type of consumer buying behaviour based on the degree of buyer involvement in the purchase and the degree of differences among brands.

The four types are:

(1) Complex Buying Behaviour:

Consumer go through complex buying behaviour when they are highly involved in a purchase and are aware of significant differences existing among brands. Consumers are highly involved in a purchase when it is expensive, bought infrequently.


Risky and highly expensive. Typically, the consumer does not know much about the product category and has much to learn. For e.g. – a person buying a personal computer may not even know what attributes to look for.

This buyer will pass through a cognitive learning process. It is characterized by first developing beliefs about the product, then moving towards attitudes towards the product, and finally making a deliberate purchase choice, the marketer of high-involvement product has to understand the information-gathering and evaluation behaviour of high-involvement consumers.

He needs to develop strategies to assist the buyer in learning about the attributes of the product class, their relative importance and the high standing of his brand on the more important attributes. He needs to differentiate the features of his brand, and enlist sales personnel and the buyer friend to influence the final brand choice.

(2) Buying Behaviour Reducing Dissonance:

Sometimes the consumer who is highly involved in a purchase sees little difference in the brands. His high involvement is based on the fact that the purchase is expensive, in-frequent and risky. The buyer will shop around to learn what is available but he will buy fairly quickly because brand differences are not pronounced.

He may respond primarily to a good price or the convenience of purchasing at time or place. For e.g. – carpet’ buying is an involving decision because it is expensive and relates to self-identification, yet the buyer is likely to consider most carpeting in a given price range to be the same.


The consumer might experience past purchase dissonance due in noticing certain disquiet features of the carpet or hearing favourable things about carpets. He starts learning more things and seeks to justify his or her decision to reduce the dissonance. He passes first through a state of behaviour, acquires some new benefits and ends up evaluating his choice favourably.

In this situation pricing, good location and effective sales personnel are important influences of brand choice. The major role of market communication is to supply beliefs and evaluations that help the consumer feel good about his or her choice after the purchase.

(3) Buying Behaviour Based on Habits:

Many products are purchased under conditions of low consumer involvement and the absence of significant brand differences. For example- in purchase category. They go to store and reach for the brand, having no strong brand loyalty. They have low involvement with most low cost, frequently purchased products. Their behaviour in these cases does pass through the normal belief/attitude/behaviour sequences. They do not search extensive information about the brands.

They evaluate their characteristics and make a weighty decision on which one to buy. They are passive recipient of information as they watch T.V. or see a print ad. Ad repetition creates brand familiarity rather than brand conviction. Consumers do not really form an attitude towards a brand but select it simply because of its familiarity.

After purchase, they may not evaluate it because they are not involved with the product. So in the buying process, brand beliefs are formed by passive learning and followed by purchase behaviour, which may be or may not be followed by evaluation.


In case of low involvement products marketers with few brand differences find it effective to use price and sales promotions are an incentive to product trial, since buyers are not highly committed to any brand. A number of things should be observed in advertising a low involvement product. The ad copy should street only a few key points.

Visual symbol and integer are important because, they can be easily remembered and associated with the brand. The ad campaigns should go for high repetition with short- duration messages. Television is more effective than print-media. It is a low involvement medium that is suitable for passive learning.

(4) Variety-Seeking Buying Behaviour:

Some buying situation depicts low consumer involvement but significant brand differences. Consumers are often observed to do a lot of brand switching. For example – in purchasing cookies the consumer has some beliefs, chooses a brand of cookies without much evaluation and evaluates it during consumption. In future, the consumer may reach for another brand out of boredom or a wish to experiment. Here brand switching occurs for the sake of variety rather than dissatisfaction.

In this product category and the minor brands the marketing strategy is different for the market leader who will try to encourage habit of buying behaviour by dominating the shelf space, avoiding out-of-stock conditions and sponsoring frequent reminder advertising, on the other hand, challenging firms will encourage variety by offering lower prices, deals, coupons, free samples and advertising that features reasons for trying something new.

Buying Motives of Consumers:


Consumer behaviour basically starts with needs. Need may be of different types, at different point of time. The need hierarchy as given by Abraham Maslow classifies the needs into five types viz. Basic need, Safety need, Social need, Esteem need and Self-actualization needs. A person moves from one level need to another, as one need is satisfied, he moves on to next need. It is for this need that consumer shows some behaviour pattern.

When a need is sufficiently aroused, it becomes a motive. William J. Stanton points out that “a motive is a need sufficiently stimulated to move an individual to seek satisfaction”. He further adds that “the motive become the buying motive when the individual seeks satisfaction through the purchase of something”. According to D. J. Durian “Buying motives are those influences or considerations which provide the impulse to buy induce action or determine choice in the purchase of goods or services”.

Buying motives are those motives of consumer’s which are sufficiently stimulated so as to induce the consumer to buy the product. These are the needs, which are pressing needs, causing anxiety and restlessness to the customers, so much so that the consumer has to make efforts to buy a suitable product. Buying motive is a motive which can be satisfied by the purchase of the commodities.

Types of Buying Motives:

Buying motives can be grouped into different levels. First, when the need is recognised by buyer and he talks about the motives for buying the product (conscious). Second the buyer is convinced that he has a need to buy but is not in position to understand the motives (sub-conscious) and last buyer is not in position to explain the factors which influence their purchase decisions (uncon­scious). These motives are known as conscious, sub-conscious and unconscious motives.

Another classification of motives which is widely accepted is by Ramaswamy and Nama Kumari as:


1. Product Motives

2. Patronage Motives

1. Product Motives:

Product motives are those motives which are related to the product that induce the consumer to buy the product. Product motive may relate to different attributes of the product.

It can be further classified as:

I. Emotional product motives

II. Rational product motives

III. Operational product motives

IV. Socio-psychological motives

Emotional product motives are those which invoke a person emotionally so that he buys the product, without analysing and evaluating its various attributes. Examples of emotional product motives are love, pride fear, comfort, ego, habits etc. Here consumer has the motive of only buying the product because he is emotionally attached to it. Other factors are absent here. As against the emotional motives, there are rational motives.

These are the motives which are concerned with the logical analysis of the various aspect of the product. Here the consumer makes a rational evaluation of different product attributes so as to determine its want satisfying potential, only then he buys the product. The various utility attributes of the product, credit facilities, transportation facilities etc. are included here.

On the basis of functions performed and socio-psychological benefit provided, buying motives are classified as operational product motive and socio-psychological product motives. Operational product motives refer to the satisfaction derived from the function or physical utility of the product. More efficiently the functions are performed, and more are the functions performed, better are the chances of product being purchased.

Socio- psychological motives are different from operational motives. Here the consumer buys the product because of the prestige attached to it. The product here is, evaluated on the basis of its social status and prestige. It must satisfy the psychological need of the buyer of having a product which is perceived high by the society.

2. Patronage Motive:

Patronages motives refers to those motives which make a consumer buy from a particular shop.

Many time consumers have reasons to buy the goods from a particular shop only. The patronage of that shop attracts him. Patronage motive may also be classified as emotional patronage motive and rational patronage motive.

Many times the buyer buy goods from a specific shop for reason not clear to them also. Such motives are called emotional patronage motives. Here the reason for buying from that shop is purely subjective. Each buyer may have his own personal reason. On the other hand rational patronage motive are the logical reason that a consumer has for buying the goods from a particular shop only.

Here the consumer is aware of advantages of that shop in terms of wide variety of goods, wide selection, good quality, easy availability, good behaviour of salesman, after sale services etc. and therefore he is attached to the shop. Thus, we see that motives have significant influence on the consumer behaviour. A marketer should therefore develop a clear understanding of the product and patronage buying motives before he goes to attract the customers and develop their loyalty.