What are the theories of consumer behavior

Consumer behavior

The recording of typical reactions and actions of consumers when buying or using a product / service serves the purpose of finding similarities and differences in behavior. Similarities have the effect of building target groups (market segmentation). Consumer behavior and entrepreneurial procurement behavior must be separated from one another. A number of behavioral models support consumer research, e.g. Howard / Sheth model, Bernoulli model, Lavington model, Klenger / Krauter model, Amstutz model and entrepreneurial procurement behavior, e.g. Sheth model, Webster / Wind model.

[s.a. Consumer behavior research] From a behavioral point of view, the behavior of consumers can be classified according to whether it takes place consciously, i.e. cognitively controlled (willingly), or unconsciously, i.e. less cognitively controlled. Cognitively controlled behavior is therefore to be equated with goal-oriented, intended behavior. The cognitive approaches of consumer behavior research are based on the theory of information processing (information processing system) and deal in particular with the decision-making behavior of consumers. This field of research prefers verbal measurement methods.

Consumer behavior that is not or only slightly cognitively controlled includes automated, unconscious and emotional behavior. Non-cognitively controlled behavior means that the individual cannot voluntarily choose between several possible behaviors.

On the one hand, automated behavior can be acquired through learning. On the other hand, the developed (biologically pre-programmed) behaviors are part of the automated behavior. There is a stimulus-response circuit in the automation of behavior. Unconscious behavior is understood to mean the internal processes that take place without the individual drawing his attention to them, but which could be cognitively controlled. In addition, a lack of consciousness can indicate that psychological events are only processed visually instead of verbally (imagery research) or that they are consciously perceived, but their complex effect is not understood. Emotional behavior is also partly subject to less conscious control. Conditioning, activation or routine buying behavior (buying decision types) can be named as examples of consumer behavior with little or no cognitive control.

Because of the low level of awareness, research into non-cognitively controlled behavior cannot rely exclusively on verbal methods, but must also apply new methods, e.g. psychobiological methods (measuring techniques, apparatus), observations, image scales (communication) or projective forms of questioning (questioning) (cf.Kroeber -Riel, 1983a, S. Off.) ".

According to Kroeber-Riel / Weinberg (1999), the behavioral influencing factors can be divided into psychological and social determinants. The psychological determinants are the mutually influencing activating processes (activation) and the cognitive processes of information acquisition, processing and storage.

All environmental influences on the consumer are to be subsumed under the social determinants of consumer behavior. In the context of the immediate environment, this includes the influence of groups (family decision; reference group) and the influencing effects of personal communication (communication; opinion leaders).

In addition, consumer behavior is influenced by subcultural and cultural factors as well as by mass communication (advertising) (influencing factors of the wider environment).

(consumer behavior) Behavior of private households and (natural) persons when buying, consuming and using goods and services that are offered on the market. This also includes behaviors that precede or follow the actual purchase and consumption (e.g. search for information) and psychological processes that cannot be directly observed but can explain the manifest behavior (e.g. decision-making processes). Research into consumer behavior has a long tradition in economics. In household theory, economics has created a more analytical-deductive theory of consumer behavior with strongly normative features, which is one of the foundations of market theory. In business administration, consumer behavior is researched as a prerequisite for developing explanatory, prognostic and decision-making aids for marketing the company. While household theory is based on the model of "homo oeconomicus", marketing research has expanded the analysis of consumer behavior to include psychological, sociological and, above all, socio-psychological explanations. It is mainly based on a research concept of neo-behaviorism, the so-called S-I-R model. Then human behavior, e.g. the purchase of a product, is perceived as a reaction (R) to a stimulus (S), e.g. an advertising appeal. The response is not clearly pre-programmed by the stimulus, but depends on intervening variables (I). These are unobservable states and processes in the organism that come between the observable external stimuli and reactions and explain them. Based on Werner Kroeber-Riel, two groups of variables can be distinguished that are significant for consumer behavior: activating and cognitive states and processes (activation, information processing of consumers). The former include emotions, motives (motivation) and attitudes, the latter processes such as perception, decision-making (purchase decision process) and learning. The aforementioned dichotomy corresponds to a certain focus in consumer research. In a research direction based on activation theory, consumer behavior is more likely to be examined as passively reacting, "irrational" behavior. Another, cognitively shaped school sees it primarily as the result of active, "rational" decision-making processes in the course of which information is recorded, processed and stored. The social context of consumer behavior has received much less attention than the individual psychological aspects. Social influences on consumer behavior are expressed in culture- and class-specific characteristics of behavior (culture-specific, class-specific consumer behavior) and in the orientation of the individual to social norms, role expectations and reference groups (group-related consumer behavior). Such orientations are primarily conveyed through communication (market communication). The behavioral consumer research outlined above has to cope with considerable methodological and theoretical problems. Since it sees itself as an empirical and applied science, it has to develop measurement methods for its theoretical constructs. Because these are often quantities that cannot be observed, they can only be inferred using more or less valid indicators. A theoretical problem that has not yet been solved is the lack of integration of the numerous hypotheses and empirical findings from the sub-areas of consumer research into a unified theory. Several consumer behavior models that strive for this goal have remained theoretically unsatisfactory and have not proven themselves in empirical research. Another, more pragmatic approach in this direction is the attempt to reduce the variety of real consumer behavior to a few types of purchase decision. Literature: Kroeber-Riel, W, consumer behavior, 5th edition, Munich 1992. v. Rosenstiel, LJ Ewald, G., Marktpsychologie, Vol. I: Consumer behavior and purchase decision, Stuttgart et al. 1979. Kassarjian, H. HJRobertson, T.S., Perspectives in Consumer Behavior, 4th ed., Englewood Cliffs, N.J. 1991.

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