Types of Decision Making & Involvement

Not every purchasing decision is one with which consumers are highly involved, though. Generally speaking, there are four types of consumer buying behavior:

  1. Routine response

When you go to the grocery store and are trying to grab a loaf of bread, odds are you’ll either buy the variety you’re familiar with or the one that is carrying the lightest price tag. In these situations, products are essentially purchased without any significant thought.

  1. Limited decision making

If you’re in the market for some new clothes or a new collapsible chair that you can bring camping, you might do a little bit of research on brands, but odds are unless you’re Kate Moss or some other model or celebrity you’re going to go with what’s in your budget and what looks good or seems the most practical.

  1. Extensive decision making

Imagine you’re a first-time homebuyer looking to settle into your first home with your new spouse. You’ve never bought a house before, but obviously you understand how big of an investment and how expansive a decision such a purchase is. Such a decision comes with evident economic risks. But how are you going to feel, personally, about the purchase? How are your peers going to look at you? Extensive decision making requires the most research.

  1. Impulsive buying

Consumers who buy something impulsively wake up that day without knowing they’re going to spend money on a particular item. But all of a sudden, they are inspired for whatever reason and make the purchase. Impulsive buying requires no conscious planning. The person who goes to a liquor store to buy a six-pack and snags an airplane bottle of whisky when checking out is someone who’s just bought something impulsively.

Everyone Is Different

It’s important to remember, however, that those four types of behavior are not universal in the sense that the gluten-free eater might spend a lot of time trying to figure out which loaf of bread to buy. In other words, what might be a routine response purchase for one person can morph into an extensive-decision-making purchase for another person.

On the other hand, buying a new car might be an impulsive-buying decision for someone like Justin Bieber who has seemingly all of the money in the world at his disposal. However, for the regular consumer, buying a car is a once-in-a-decade decision (hopefully).

Keeping with the car scenario, it’s important to remember that extenuating circumstances can also have a major influence on consumer buying behavior. If a consumer has had a car for 10 years that still runs, he or she may begin thinking about whether to replace that car despite the fact that it still works. Such a looming purchase would likely be categorized as an extensive-decision-making purchase. But if that person’s car died all of a sudden and the need for a new car presented itself overnight, the consumer might not be able to do his or her due diligence. These changing circumstances could result in a limited-decision-making purchase, rather than the previously deemed extensive-decision-making purchase.

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Low involvement purchase decision

Low involvement purchase decisions take little time or effort for the purchaser. Think about your mindless weekly shop around the supermarket, do you research before hand, dwell, consider, weigh up the alternatives for the bag of lettuce you buy every week that costs $5? Not likely, possibly you browse a couple of different options in the shop, and then likely forget all about the purchase by the time you are in the next aisle!

High involvement purchase decision

High involvement purchase decisions often take time and effort for the purchaser (sometimes even years!). Think about when you purchased your first house, how many properties did you sift through online, attend open homes, read marketing collateral and blogs before you finally settled on the right house? I’m betting a lot. And even after you had your offer accepted you probably still questioned yourself (was it the right purchase?).

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