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Models of Consumer Behaviour


The black box model shows the interaction of stimuli, consumer characteristics, decision process and consumer responses. It can be distinguished between interpersonal stimuli (between people) or intrapersonal stimuli (within people).

The black box model is related to the black box theory of behaviourism, where the focus is not set on the processes inside a consumer, but the relation between the stimuli and the response of the consumer.

The marketing stimuli are planned and processed by the companies, whereas the environmental stimulus is given by social factors, based on the economical, political and cultural circumstances of a society. The buyer’s black box contains the Buyer Characteristics and the Decision Process, which determines the buyer’s response.

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The black box model considers the buyers response as a result of a conscious, rational decision process, in which it is assumed that the buyer has recognized the problem. However, in reality many decisions are not made in awareness of a determined problem by the consumer. Once the consumer has recognized a problem, they search for information on products and services that can solve that problem.


This model focuses on the relationship between the firm and  consumers. The firm communicates with consumers through its marketing messages (advertising), and the consumers react to these messages by purchasing response. Looking to the model we will find that the firm and the consumer are connected with each other, the firm tries to influence the consumer and the consumer is influencing the firm by his decision. The Nicosia model is divided into four major fields:

Field 1: The consumer attitude based on the firms’ messages. The first field is divided into two subfields. The first subfield deals with the firm’s marketing environment and communication efforts that affect consumer attitudes, the competitive environment, and characteristics of target market. Subfield two specifies the consumer characteristics e.g., experience, personality, and how he perceives the promotional idea toward the product in this stage the consumer forms his attitude toward the firm’s product based on his interpretation of the message.

Field 2: search and evaluation The consumer will start to search for other firm’s brand and evaluate the firm’s brand in comparison with alternate brands. In this case the firm motivates the consumer to purchase its brands.

Field 3: The act of the purchase The result of motivation will arise by convincing the consumer to purchase the firm products from a specific retailer.

Field 4: Feedback This model analyses the feedback of both the firm and the consumer after purchasing the product. The firm will benefit from its sales data as a feedback, and the consumer will use his experience with the product affects the individuals attitude and predisposition’s concerning future messages from the firm.

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The Nicosia model offers no detail explanation of the internal factors, which may affect the personality of the consumer, and how the consumer develops his attitude toward the product. For example, the consumer may find the firm’s message very interesting, but virtually he cannot buy the firm’s brand because it contains something prohibited according to his beliefs. Apparently it is very essential to include such factors in the model, which give more interpretation about the attributes affecting the decision process.


This model suggests three levels of decision making:-

(i) The first level describes the extensive problem solving. At this level the consumer does not have any basic information or knowledge about the brand and he does not have any preferences for any product. In this situation, the consumer will seek information about all the different brands in the market before purchasing.

(ii) The second level is limited problem solving. This situation exists for consumers who have little knowledge about the market, or partial knowledge about what they want to purchase. In order to arrive at a brand preference some comparative brand information is sought.

(iii) The third level is a habitual response behavior. In this level the consumer knows very well about the different brands and he can differentiate between the different characteristics of each product, and he already decides to purchase a particular product. According to the Howard-Sheth model there are four major sets of variables; namely:

(a) Inputs These input variables consist of three distinct types of stimuli(information sources) in the consumer’s environment. The marketer in the form of product or brand information furnishes physical brand characteristics (significant stimuli) and verbal or visual product characteristics (symbolic stimuli). The third type is provided by the consumer’s social environment (family, reference group, and social class). All three types of stimuli provide inputs concerning the product class or specific brands to the specific consumer.

(b) Perceptual and Learning Constructs The central part of the model deals with the psychological variables involved when the consumer is contemplating a decision. Some of the variables are perceptual in nature, and are concerned with how the consumer receives and understands the information from the input stimuli and other parts of the model. For example, stimulus ambiguity happened when the consumer does not understand the message from  the environment.

(c) Outputs- The outputs are the results of the perceptual and learning variables and how the consumers will response to these variables (attention, brand comprehension, attitudes, and intention).

(d) Exogenous(External) variables- Exogenous variables are not directly part of the decision-making process. However, some relevant exogenous variables include the importance of the purchase, consumer personality traits, religion, and time pressure.

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The Decision Making Process, which Howard-Sheth Model tries to explain, takes place at three Inputs stages: Significance, Symbolic and Social stimuli. In both significant and symbolic stimuli, the model emphasizes on material aspects such as price and quality. These stimuli are not applicable in every society. While in social stimuli the model does not mention the basis of decision-making in this stimulus, such as what influence the family decision? This may differ from one society to another. Finally, no direct relation was drawn on the role of religion in influencing the consumer’s decision-making processes. Religion was considered as external factor with no real influence on consumer, which give the model obvious weakness in anticipation the consumer decision.


This model was created to describe the increasing, fast-growing body of knowledge concerning consumer behavior. This model, like in other models, has gone through many revisions to improve its descriptive ability of the basic relationships between components and sub-components, this model consists also of four stages;

First stage: decision-process stages The central focus of the model is on five basic decision-process stages:

Problem recognition, search for alternatives, alternate evaluation(during which beliefs may lead to the formation of attitudes, which in turn may result in a purchase intention) purchase, and outcomes. But it is not necessary for every consumer to go through all these stages; it depends on whether it is an extended or a routine problem-solving behavior.

Second stage: Information input At this stage the consumer gets information from marketing and non-marketing sources, which also influence the problem recognition stage of the decision-making process. If the consumer still does not arrive to a specific decision, the search for external information will be activated in order to arrive to a choice or in some cases if the consumer experience dissonance because the selected alternative is less satisfactory than expected.

Third stage: information processing This stage consists of the consumer’s exposure, attention, perception, acceptance, and retention of incoming information. The consumer must first be exposed to the message, allocate space for this information, interpret the stimuli, and retain the message by transferring the input to long-term memory.

Fourth stage: variables influencing the decision process  This stage consists of individual and environmental influences that affect all five stages of the decision process. Individual characteristics include motives, values, lifestyle, and personality; the social influences are culture, reference groups, and family. Situational influences, such as a consumer’s financial condition, also influence the decision process.

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This model incorporates many items, which influence consumer decision-making such as values, lifestyle, personality and culture. The model did not show what factors shape these items, and why different types of personality can produce different decision-making? How will we apply these values to cope with different personalities? Religion can explain some behavioral characteristics of the consumer, and this will lead to better understanding of the model and will give more comprehensive view on decision-making.


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