Consumer Buying Behaviour

Consumer Buying Behaviour concerns the consumer behaviour of the end customer, i.e. individuals or households. Consumer buying behaviour has changed due to a number of reasons e.g. the Internet, globalization, and the fact that today’s consumers have more disposable income than at any other time in recorded history, but they also have more to choose from. In light of this, companies that understand what drives consumers to make purchasing decisions are in a better position to create a market offering that meets target customer needs better than the competition. This in turn is a means with which to create differential and even competitive examples. Consumer behaviour can be studies from varying perspectives like psychology and micro-economics, which have been the foundation of early research in this area. More recent perspectives like sociology and cultural anthropology have contributed to a larger picture of consumer behaviour.

Your goal with understanding consumer-buying behaviour may be to understand who the decision makers, influencers, and actual purchasers of products are. Likewise, your company may be interested in the complexity of the products they sell and how this effect a consumer’s need for information and eventually adds to their post-purchase cognitive dissonance. Regardless of what aspect interests you and your company, there are several common elements you need to consider when conducting a project on Consumer Buying Behaviour. There are some requirements to consider for a project on consumer buying behaviour, for instance primary data should be collected from actual consumers, and good methods for collecting data could be focus groups, experiments, case studies and surveys ( see Marketing Research).

Decision theories have a great influence on understanding consumer behaviour, and there are both internal and external factors influencing. The external factors are demographics, socio-economics, technology, culture, and public policy. Internal influences are attitudes, learning, perceptions, motivation, semiotics, and self-image. Understanding consumer buying behavior begins by understanding the general steps consumers go through before, during and after the purchase. By understanding each step, marketers can conduct marketing efforts to encourage customers to gravitate towards a purchase, and once a purchase has been made, find a satisfaction with their choices. The model below is a generalized (and simplified) model of the buying decision process:

In the model above, we see that in the first step in the process, people generally undertake need recognition. Underlying this step is Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs. Understanding the consumer in all phases of the marketing process is essential.
Then we better understand the information search process and also how the consumer evaluates alternatives before the purchase decision.

Other influences are illustrated below in the Stimuli-Response Model:




Analytical Tools

A conjoint analysis  is used in marketing research to determine how people prioritize different features of a product or service.



Links and Further Readings

General Links provides a general and very basic overview  of Consumer Buying Behaviour. provides a general overview of Consumer Buying Behaviour from the Marketing Virtual Library  with different tutorials covering different areas of consumer buying behaviour. presents the main classifications  of consumer types and some of the techniques that a business might employ to gather information about their consumers. This site also provides a general overview of how a rational consumer chooses between two goods, the indifference curve analysis. explains that there are four types of customers  and what to do in order to keep them happy. provides instructions and tips on how to formulate a marketing questionnaire.



**The Journal of Consumer Research - is a journal that publishes empirical, theoretical, and methodological articles concerning consumer behaviour covering everything from psychology, marketing, sociology, economics and anthropology.

**The Journal of Consumer Marketing - is a journal that provides you with material regarding all aspects of marketing to consumers.


News Articles

Values, experiences outweigh product attributes in driving loyalty and engagement  (, June 2007)

News Articles in Swedish

Allt fler shoppar i Stockholms city  (E24 Näringsliv, February 2006)

Journal Articles

**Hausman, A. (2000). A Multi-Method Investigation of Consumer Motivations in Impulse Buying Behaviour.  Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 17, No. 5, pp. 403-419.
This article investigates consumers’ impulse buying behaviour. 30-50% of all purchases are made on impulse. The author suggests that this behaviour is a result of several underlying needs, and investigates why consumer impulse buying behaviour occurs with such a high frequency.

*'Quester, P.G., & Smart, J. (1998). The Influence of Consumption Situation and Product Involvement Over Consumers’ Use of Product Attribute. Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 15. No. 3, pp. 220-238.
This is a study that investigates the combined influence of individual and situational factors, like product involvement and the consumption situation, on consumer behaviour.

**Martin, C. A., & Bush, A. J. (2000). Do Role Models Influence Teenagers’ Purchase Intention and Behaviour?  Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 17, No. 5, pp. 441-454.
Targeting teenagers has been discovered to be profitable since they are trendsetters, influence their parents, and will spend more money in the future. This study investigates the impact that role models have on teenagers’ consumer behaviour.

**Green, P.E., & Srinivasan, V. (1990). Conjoint Analysis in Marketing – New Developments With Implications for Research and Practice. journal of Marketing, Vol. 54, No. 4, pp. 3-19.  This article is an update of a previous article on con-joint analysis and looks at the newest developments. A conjoint analysis is useful when you wish to structure and measure consumer preferences when the customer is given alternative choices.

Elliot, R. (1994). Addictive Consumption: Function and Fragmentation in Post Modernity.  Journal of Consumer Policy, Vol. 17, pp. 159-179. This article investigates a particular type of consumer behaviour, that of the addictive consumer with a compulsive buying behaviour.


**Blackwell, R. D., Miniard, P. W., & Engel, J. F. (2001). Consumer Behaviour. This book looks at different areas within consumer behavior theory and practice, and also offers a section on the psychology behind consumer behaviour.

**Desmond, J. (2003). Consuming Behaviour. This book mixes the traditional consumer behaviour theory with biological, sociological, and anthropological theories.

**Foxall, G.R. (2003). Consumer Decision-Making: Process, Level and Style. In Baker, The Marketing Book. This book chapter deals with the consumer decision process, the levels of consumer involvement, different decision styles, and implications for management.




**Baker, M.J. (2006). Marketing: an introductory text. Westburn: Argyll, Scotland.

**Baker, M.J. (1999). The IEBM encyclopedia of marketing. International Thomson Business Press: London, England.



*Available online for students at Jönköping University
**Available at the Jönköping University Library
***Available both online for students at Jönköping University as well
as at the Jönköping University Library