Consumers are becoming smarter day by day; it is not to fool them with any gimmick. Nowadays, consumer does his/her homework very well before making any purchase in the market. Even before buying a face wash a consumer go through a rigorous process of choosing the best among the many present in the market. Buying a face wash and buying a luxurious car is very different, therefore the perception involved and the information gathered by the consumer in purchasing a car is much more than buying a face wash.
Henry Assael distinguished four types of consumer buying behavior based on the degree of buyer involvement and the degree of differences among brands.
A. Routinized Response Behavior (RRB)/ Habitual Buying Behavior:
This is the simplest type of consumer behavior. This occurs when the consumer already has some experience of buying and using the product. Usually, this kind of behavior is adopted for the purchase of low cost, frequently used items. In such cases the buyers do not give much thought, or search and also do not take a lot of time to make the purchase.
Most of the time the buyer is familiar with the various brands available and the attributes of each and has a well-established criteria for selecting their own brand. The buyers are well aware of the product class, know the brands and also have a clear preference among the brands. The degree of involvement in buying such products is low. In such a case, the marketer has to ensure two tasks:
(a) The marketer must continue to provide satisfaction to the existing customers by maintaining quality, service and value.
(b) He must try to attract new customers by making use of sales promotion techniques like points of purchase displays, off-price offers, etc., and also introduce new features to the products.
B. Limited Problem Solving (LPS)/ Dissonance Reducing Buying Behavior:
In this type of buying behavior, the consumer is familiar with the product and various brands available, but has no established brand preference. Here the buyer is more complex as compared to routine buying behavior because the consumer is confronted with an unfamiliar brand in a familiar product class.
The consumer would like to gather additional information about the brands to arrive at his brand decision. For instance, a housewife buys refined vegetable oils for her cooking and she may be familiar with the concept of vegetable oil, vanaspati and ghee. She may also know about some of the leading brands available. But to establish her choice of brand, she would like to check with her friends and regular store about the attributes of each.
This buying behavior as described limited problem solving because the buyers are in a situation where they are fully aware of the product class but not familiar with all the brands and their features.
Limited problem solving also takes place when a consumer encounters an unfamiliar or new brand in a known product category. The housewife, who buys refined vegetable oil, on her next visit to the market, sees a new brand of vegetable oil. Apart from buying a new brand, this brand of oil also claims the unique attribute of being low in cholesterol.
To arrive at a decision, whether or not to buy this brand, the housewife needs to gather information about the new brand, which will allow her to compare it with the known brands. Here the marketer’s job is to design a communication programme, which will help the buyer to gather more information, increase his brand comprehension and gain confidence in the brand.
C. Extensive Problem Solving (EPS)/Complex Buying Behavior
This buying is referred to as a complex buying behavior because the consumer is in an unfamiliar product class and is not clear about what criteria to consider for buying. Extensive problem solving occurs when the consumer is encountering a new product category. He needs information on both the product category as well as the various brands available in it.
This kind of decision is the most complex type. For instance, you may become interested in purchasing a Color Television set to replace the existing black and white one. You may have heard of the various brand names, but lack clear brand concepts. You do not know what product attributes or features to consider while choosing a good television set. So yours is an extensive problem solving.
The marketing strategy for such buying behavior must be such that it facilitates the consumer’s information gathering and learning process about the product category and his own brand.
The marketer must understand the information gathering and evaluation activities of the prospective consumers. They have to educate the prospective buyers to learn about the attributes of the product class, their relative importance and the high standing of the marketer’s brand on the more important brand attributes.
The marketer must be able to provide his consumer with a very specific and unique set of positive attributes regarding his own brand, so that the purchase decision is made in his favor. In other words, the marketing communications should be aimed at supplying information and help the consumer to evaluate and feel good about his/her brand choice. The concept of EPS is most applicable to new products.
The product may be new at the generic level or it may be an established product concept but new for a particular consumer. In case of a new product concept the entire consumer universe is unfamiliar with the product. The marketer has to spend large amounts of money in educating the consumers about his product.
The consumer in turn need a great deal of information before they can take a decision; and the decision process takes a longer time. On the other hand, you may have the situation where the product concept is well understood by a majority of the consumers, but it is being bought or used by a particular consumer for the first time.
To take a very simple example, a tribal who is exposed to the concept of toothpaste for the first time in his life will seek a lot of information and take a long time to decide. Because fro him, buying a toothpaste is an EPS behavior whereas for most of us it is simply Routinized response behavior.
D. Variety Seeking
Consumers often express satisfaction with their present brand but still engage in brand switching. The motive is variety seeking, which occurs most often when there are many similar alternatives, frequent brand shifts, and high purchase frequency.
It can occur simply because someone is bored with his or her current brand choice, or it can be prompted by external cues as store stock outs or coupons that promote switching. Take the example of chocolates.
The consumers has some beliefs about chocolates chooses a brand of chocolates without much evaluation and evaluates the product during consumption. Next time, the consumer may reach for another brand out of a wish for a different taste. In this case the brand switching occurs for the sake of variety rather than dissatisfaction.