Contemporary Models

As the study of consumer behavior evolved into a distinct discipline newer approaches were offered to describe and explain what influenced consumer behavior. These contemporary views are quite different from previous models because of their concentration on the decision process that consumers engage in when deliberating about products and services. Therefore, contrary to the economic models emphasis is placed on the mental activity that occurs before, during and after purchases are made.

A second distinguishing characteristic of contemporary models is their extensive borrowing from material developed in the behavioral sciences. In fact, most of the variables discussed in these models were originally identified in the fields of psychology and sociology.

A large number of contemporary consumer models have been developed varying considerably in terms of their sophisticated precision, domain and scope. However, due to space limitations only a few of the more widely quoted models will be reviewed here.

Nicosia Model:

Francesco Nicosia was one of the first consumer behavior modelers to shift focus from the act of purchase itself to the more complex decision process that consumers engage in about products and services. He presented his model in a flow chart format, resembling the steps in a computer program. Also, all variables are viewed as interacting with none being inherently dependent or independent. Thus, the model describes a circular flow of influences where each component provides input to the next,

The model is viewed as representing a situation where a firm is designs communications (ads, products etc) to deliver to consumers and consumer responses will influence subsequent actions of the firm. Generally as shown in the Figure the model contains four major components or fields (1) the firm’s attributes and outputs or communication and the consumer’s psychological attributes, (2) the consumers’ search for and evaluation of the firm’s output and other available alternatives, (3) the consumer’s motivated act of purchase and (4) the consumer’s storage or use of the product. Nicosia assumes that the consumer is seeking to fulfill specific goals and that initially there is no history between the consumer and the firm so no positive or negative predispositions toward the firm exists in the consumer’s mind.

As shown in the figure the firm produces some type of communication that the consumer is exposed to. Attributes of the message and the consumer determine the nature of the consumer’s exposure to it and its influence on him. One consequence is that the message will influence the consumer’s attitude towards the brand. This attitude is the input to field two.

The consumer will probably become motivated to gain information at this point, and search activity is likely to occur. Some search activity will involve searching internal memory for relevant information about the communication. External search may also occur, where the consumer visits stores, reads etc. This is likely to lead to evaluation. If the consumer processes relevant information and begins to favor the firm’s brand he will be motivated towards it. If nothing intervenes, this motivation is likely to lead to shopping activity and purchase of the brand. At this point a number of outcomes can occur. One outcome is that the firm receives feedback and another is that the consumer’s attitude towards the brand may change because he gains experience with the product during its storage and use. This product experience is feedback to the consumer’s predispositions .

Model evaluations:

Our review of the Nicosia models has been brief and quite general. However, it is sufficient to appreciate that the model was developed from the author’s massive review of existing literature relevant to consumer behavior. In that regard, it stands as one of the pioneering attempts to consolidate knowledge about consumers. It focuses on the conscious deliberative decision making behavior of consumers, it was also pioneering as was the viewpoint that the act of purchase is only one stage in the more important ongoing decision process of the consumer. The model also contributed the funnel approach which views consumers as moving from general product knowledge towards specific brand knowledge and from a passive position to an active state which is motivated towards a particular brand.

Source: Consumer Behavior