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Bray (2008)
lays down two major types of Cognitive models. As Figure x shows, Cognitive Consumer Behavior Models
can be categorized into two main models: the analytical and prescriptive ones.

 

The
analytical model provides clarification on the behavior of the consumers (Bray,
2008), while prescriptive models, according to Moital (2007), provide frameworks
on the structure of the consumer behavior.

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Analytical
models are also referred to as “grand models” (Kassarjian, 1982). According to
Cherian and Harris (1990), these models describe the purchase decision of a
consumer as a problem solving approach and the process is classified into five
steps such as the problem recognition, information search, alternative
evaluation, choice and the outcome evaluation (Erasmus,Boshoff et al. 2001). The
most used and cited analytical models are the Theory of Buyer Behavior by
Howard and Sheth (1969) and the Consumer Decision Model by Blackwell et al.

(2001).

 

Prescriptive
models were developed as a result of an increasing interest in understanding the
effect of attitudes and also beliefs on the buying behavior of consumers
(Ahtola, 1975). The models that were the most cited from the prescriptive
models were the Theory of Reasoned Action from Fishbein et al. (1975) and the
Theory of Planned Behavior from Ajzen (1985).

 

Both
analytical and prescriptive models had its advantages and the critique that
followed them. On this paper we are going to focus on the analytical models as
it will allow us to have a normal flow into the purpose of this paper.

 

2.1 Analytic Cognitive Consumer Behavior Models

 

2.1.1 The Theory of Buyer Behavior

 

According
to Foxall (1990), the theory of Howard and Sheth, provides “a sophisticated
integration of the various social, psychological and marketing influences on
consumer choice into a coherent sequence of information processing”.

Howard and
Sheth, under the Theory of Buyer Behavior, attempted to explain the buyers’
brand choice as systematic, rather than random and tried to explain the rationality
of buyer in his or her purchase decision when faced with incomplete
information. Also, while differentiating between three levels of decisions such
as Extended Problem Solving, Limited Problem Solving and Routine Problem
Solving, Howard and Sheth focused on the repetitive model.

 

Their main
assumptions, before continuing into explaining their theory, were the
following: the buying behavior was assumed under the bounded rationality theory
of Simon as also explained above; the outcome of the study was aimed at being a
positive theory, which means that the theory expresses how it actually works
rather than how it should work; and the brand choice can be measured in few
standard ways.  

 

Loudon and
Della Bitta (1993) lay down the main components of the theory as shown in Figure x, which shows the
core architecture of the model, later refined in succeeding works. The model has
four key components: input variables, intervening variables or hypothetical
constructs, the response output and the exogenous variables.

 

The input variable
indicates the stimuli that the consumer is faced with (Figure x). This variable is considered to
be sourced from the buyer’s environment (Howard and Sheth, 1969). The stimuli
could be significative, symbolic or social (Bray, 2008). On one hand, the
significative and symbolic stimuli derive from the commercial environment of
the buyer. The significative stimuli are actual features of the products, which
the buyer is confronted with when buying a product, the symbolic stimuli
reflects the positioning that the products obtain due to advertisements. On the
other hand, the social stimuli derive from the social environment of the buyer
and refers to the influence of the family or friends.

 

Howard and
Sheth categorized the hypothetical constructs or intervening variables into two
groups, namely: perceptual constructs and learning constructs. The perceptual
constructs include perceptual bias, sensitivity to information and search for
information, and they show how the buyer obtains the information and handles
it. Learning construct, on the other hand, relate to the establishment of buyer’s
attitude and opinion and the final decision.

 

Outputs or
response outputs, as laid down by the model, refer to multiple elements which
refer to the response towards the input variable. As a key element of the
model, it starts with attention, which is the information that the buyer takes
during his decision journey and ends with purchase behavior, which comprises
all variables and reflects the tendency to buy.

 

The last
but not least important component of the model is the exogenous variable. This
variable includes personality variables, the effect of social class, of
culture, of organization, time pressure and financial status. According to
Howard and Sheth (1969), these variables reflect the history of the buyer up to
when the buyer’s decisions are observed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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