Studying the consumer behavior can be quite complex, especially because of the many variables involved and their tendency to interact. Models of consumer behavior have been developed in an effort to overcome these difficulties.
Definition of a Model:
A model can be defined as a simplified representation of reality. It simplifies by incorporating only those aspects of reality that interest the model builder. Other aspects that are not of interest only add to the complexity of the situation an can be ignored. Thus an architect’s model of a building may not show furniture arrangements if that is not important to the building’s design. Similarly, in modeling consumers we should feel free to exclude any aspects that are not relevant to their behavior. Since we have defined consumer behavior as involving a decision process models that focus on this process will be of considerable interest to us.
Types of models:
Ay given property or process can be modeled in variety of ways. We could model something or by verbally describing it, by representing it with diagrams, mathematical symbols, or by characterizing it with some physical process such as electrical current. The most common consumer behavior models are verbal often supported by a schematic drawing.
Consumer behavior models can also be classified in terms of scope, some are designed to represent a very specific aspect of behavior , such as consumers repetitive purchasing of the same brand over a period of time. Others are much more comprehensive because thye attempt to include a great variety of consumer behaviors. These comprehensive models are less detailed in nature so that they can represent many diverse situations.
Uses of models:
Models are devised for variety of reasons, but the two purposes for developing most consumer models are (1) to assist in constructing a theory that guides research on consumer behavior and (2) to facilitate learning what is presently known about consumer behavior. In both cases, the model serves to structure systematic and logical thinking about consumers. This entails (1) identifying the relevant variables (2) indicating their characteristics and (3) specifying their interrelationships that is how they influence each other
A theory is an interrelated set of concepts definitions and propositions that presents a systematic view of some phenomenon. It presents a logical viewpoint that is useful in understanding some process or activity. More specifically, a theory has four major functions, descriptions, prediction, explanation and control. The descriptive function involves characterizing the nature of something such as the steps consumers go through while deciding on a purchase. In its predictive role a theory is used to foretell future events, as when learning theory is used to predict what brand names will be easier for consumer to remember Theory can be used for explanation in order to learn the underlying causes of some even or activity. This would occur when we want to understand why a consumer regularly purchases the same brand of soup. is it because of habit or loyalty to the brand? Although it is possible to predict events without understanding then causes knowing why something happens greatly enhances ability to predict its occurrence. Control is the ability to influence or regulate future events This has been extremely difficult in the behavioral sciences due to the many variables involved and our lack of knowledge about them. Therefore, although marketers n and others can sometimes influence consumers we will find ample evidence that since control of consumer behavior is far from present capabilities.
A useful relationship exists between models and theories because models can assist theory development by clearly delineating the relevant variables and their influence on each other. That is, models can be used to depict or express a theory. In this way models can present a unified view of what is known about consumer behavior and help identify what remains to be explored. This allows researchers to advance knowledge by selecting the most important aspects of consumer behavior for analysis and testing.
Source: Consumer Behavior