Consumer Behaviour Models

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External and internal factors contribute to the formulation of self-concept and lifestyle, which affects the consumer decision process. During this process, experiences and acquisitions update the original external and internal influences.

This model helps marketers to understand the psychology of how consumers think, feel, reason, and select between different alternatives e.g., brands, products, and retailers and how the consumer is influenced by his or her environment e.g., culture, family, signs, media as shown in Fig.

Consumer Behaviour Model
Consumer Behaviour

Consumer Behaviour Models

  1. Howard–Sheth Model
  2. Nicosia Model
  3. Learning Model
  4. Economic Model
  5. Psycho-analytical Model
  6. Sociological Model

Howard–Sheth Model

John Howard and Jagdish Sheth presented their buyer model in 1969. It’s an integrated model. It assumes a problem-solving approach in buying and adopts an input-output or system approach in buying. Howard introduced learning process in buying. Satisfaction leads to brand loyalty. Discontentment creates brand switching by the buyers.

In other words, the logic of this model is that there are inputs in the form of stimuli. There are outputs beginning with attention to a given stimulus and ending the purchase. In between these inputs and outputs, there are variables affecting perception and learning.

These variables are “hypothetical” as they can not be directly measured at the time of occurrence. It explains the complex decision-making process a consumer goes through. A diagram of this is shown in Fig. below:

Howard Sheth
Howard Sheth Model
  1. Inputs Stimulus Display
  2. Perceptual Constructs
  3. Response Outputs (Output Variables)

Inputs Stimulus Display

These input variables consist of three distinct types of information sources in the consumer’s environment.

  • Significant: Information furnishes physical brand characteristics such as quality, price, distinctive, service, availability.
  • Symbolic: Verbal or visual product characteristics such as quality, price, distinctive, service, availability.
  • Consumer’s social environment: This is the information about the product or service offering that comes from the social environment, viz. family, groups, society and culture at large.

Perceptual Constructs

The perceptual constructs deal with how a consumer obtains and processes information received from the input variables. Once the buyer is exposed to any information, there is attention; this attention towards the stimuli depends on the buyers’ sensitivity to information in terms of his urge and receptivity towards such information.

Not all information would be processed and the intake of information is subject to perceived uncertainty and lack of meaningfulness of information; this is referred to as stimulus ambiguity.

  • Learning constructs: The learning constructs relate to buyer learning, formation of attitudes and opinions, and the final decision.

    The learning constructs are seven in number, and range from a buyer’s motive for a purchase to the final satisfaction from a purchase; the interplay of these constructs ultimately leads to a response output or a purchase. The motives refer to the goals that urge towards action or the purchase activity.

Response Outputs (Output Variables)

The output variables refer to the buyer’s action or response to stimulus inputs. According to Howard and Sheth, the response outputs comprise five constituents, viz., attention, comprehension, attitude, intention and purchase.

These could be arranged in a hierarchy, starting from attention and ending up with purchase.

  • Attention refers to the degree or level of information that a buyer accepts when exposed to a stimulus. It reflects the magnitude of the buyer’s information intake.

  • Comprehension is the amount of information that he actually processes and stores; here, it refers to brand comprehension which is buyers’ knowledge about the product/service category and brand.

  • The attitude is the composite of cognition, affect and behaviour towards the offering; the attitude reflects his evaluation of the brand and the like/dislike based on the brand potential.

  • Intention refers to the buyer’s intention to buy or not to buy a particular offering.

  • Purchase behaviour refers to the actual act of buying. The purchase behaviour is a cumulative result of the other four constituents.

Nicosia Model

Nicosia model of consumer behaviour was proposed by Nicosia (1976).This model concentrates on the buying decision for a new product. Human being is analyzed as a system with stimuli as the input and the behaviour a is the output. Nicosia model explains the consumers’ buying behaviour from the marketers’ perspective as shown in Fig.

Nicosia Model
Nicosia Model
  1. Stage I
  2. Stage II
  3. Stage III
  4. Stage IV

Stage I

Firm’s Attributes and Consumer’s Attributes: The first stage is divided into two sub-stages: firm’s attributes and the consumer’s attributes. An advertising message from the firm reaches the consumer’s attributes. Depending on the way the message is received by the consumer, a certain attribute may develop, and this becomes the input for stage two.

Stage II

Search and Evaluation: Stage II is the area of search and evaluation of the advertised product and other alternatives. If this process results in a motivation to buy, it becomes the input for field three.

Stage III

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

Stage IV

Feedback: Field four consists of the use of the purchased item. This involves feedback of both the firm and the consumer after purchasing the product.

  • Firm’s feedback sales data
  • Consumer’s feedback—consumer’s attitude based on experience and predispositions on future firm’s messages.

Learning Model

All theories of buyer behaviour have been basically based on a learning model namely, Stimulation-Response or more popularly known as SR model.

SR learning theory is very useful to modern marketing and marketers. According to the learning model which takes its cue from the Pavlovian stimulus response theory, buyer behaviour can be influenced by manipulating the drives, stimuli and responses of the buyer.

The model rests on man’s ability at learning, forgetting and discriminating. The stimulus response learning theory states that there develops a bond between behaviour producing stimulus and a behaviour response (S. R. Bond) on account of the conditioning of behaviour and formation of habits. This theory may be traced to Pavlov and his experiments on salivating dogs.

Pavlov’s experiments brought out associations by conditioning. According to the stimulus-response, learning is dependent on drive, cue (stimulus), response and reinforcement as shown in Fig.

Learning Model
Learning Model
  1. Drive
  2. Cue
  3. Response
  4. Reinforcement


Drive may be defined as any strong stimulus that forces action. It arouses an individual and keeps him prepared to respond.


Cue or stimulus may be defined as any object in the environment perceived by the individual. The aim of the marketing man is to find out or create the cue of sufficient importance that it becomes the drive stimulus or elicits other responses appropriate to his objective.


Response is an answer to a given drive or cue. When a man feels thirsty, he attempts to get water at any cost. Here attempt to get water is a response to the primary drive of thirst. “Response also includes attitudes, familiarity, perception and other complex phenomena”. Responses may be generalized or discriminatory.


Reinforcement or reward means reduction in drive and stimulus. It has been defined as “environmental events exhibiting the property of increasing the probability of occurrence of responses they accompany”. Thus, when consumption of a product or a brand of product leads to satisfaction of the initiating need there is reinforcement.

Economic Model

Economics is the social science that analyzes the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. According to the economic model of buyer behaviour, the buyer is a rational man and his buying decisions are totally governed by the concept of utility.

If he has a certain amount of purchasing power, a set of needs to be met and a set of products to choose from, he will allocate the amount over the set of products in a very rational manner with the intention of maximizing the utility or benefits.

Psycho-analytical Model

The psycho-analytical model draws from Freudian psychology. According to this model, the individual consumer has a complex set of deep seated motives which drive him towards certain buying decisions.

The buyer has a private world with all his hidden fears, suppressed desires and totally subjective longings. His buying action can be influenced by appealing to these desires and longings.

The psycho-analytical theory is attributed to the work of eminent psychologist Sigmund Freud. Freud introduced personality as a motivating force in human behaviour.

According to this theory, the mental framework of a human being is composed of three elements as shown in Fig.

Psycho-analytical Model
Psycho-analytical Model
  1. Id
  2. Super ego
  3. Ego


The id or the instinctive, pleasure seeking element. It is the reservoir of the instinctive impulses that a man is born with and whose processes are entirely subconscious. It includes the aggressive, destructive and sexual impulses of man.

Super ego

The superego or the internal filter that presents to the individual the behavioural expectations of society. It develops out of the id, dominates the ego and represents the inhibitions of instinct which is characteristic of man. It represents the moral and ethical elements, the conscience.


The ego or the control device maintains a balance between the id and the superego. It is the most superficial portion of the id. It is modified by the influence of the outside world. Its processes are entirely conscious because it is concerned with the perception of the outside world. It continues to influence consumer behaviour.

Sociological Model

According to the sociological model, the individual buyer behaviour is influenced by society by intimate groups as well as social classes. That is, his buying decisions are not totally determined by the concept of utility. That is his buying decisions are governed by social compulsions as shown in Fig.

Sociological Model
Sociological Model

This model represents the individual buyer behaviour which is influenced by society—by intimate groups as well as social classes. That is, his buying decisions are not totally determined by the concept of utility. That is his buying decisions are governed by social compulsions.

As a part of sociological model— two important variations can be considered, viz. Nicosia and Howard & Sheth. The marketing scholars have tried to build buyers-behaviour models purely from the standpoint view of marketing man.

Here F. Nicosia model of 1966 and H. Sheth model of 1969 are of this category. These models are systems models where a human being is analyzed as a system with stimuli as INPUT and behaviour as OUTPUT.

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