Variety seeking buying behavior

Some buying situations are characterized by low involvement but significant brand differences. Here consumers often do a lot of brand switching. Think about cookies. Consumers have some beliefs about cookies, choose a brand of cookies without much evaluation, and evaluate the product during consumption. Next time, the consumer may reach for another brand out of a wish for a different taste. Brand switching occurs for the sake of variety rather than dissatisfaction.

The market leader and the minor brands in this product category have different marketing strategies. The market leader will try to encourage habitual buying behavior by dominating the shelf space with a variety of related but different product versions, avoiding out-of-stock conditions, and sponsoring frequent reminder advertising. Challenger firms will encourage variety seeking by offering lower prices, deals, coupons, free samples, and advertising that tries to break the consumer’s purchase and consumption cycle and presents reasons for trying something new.

Decision Heuristics and Biases

As the low-involvement and non-compensatory model discussions suggest, consumers do not always process information or make decisions in a deliberate, rational manner. Behavioral decision theory is a thriving area in consumer research. Behavioral decision theorists have identified many different heuristics and biases in everyday consumer decision making. Heuristics are rules of thumb or mental shortcuts in the decisions process.

Heuristics can come into play when consumers forecast the likelihood of future outcomes or events.

1. The availability heuristic:

Consumers base their predictions on the quickness and ease with which a particular example of an outcome comes to mind. If an example comes to mind too easily, consumers might overestimate the likelihood of the outcome or event happening. For example, a recent product failure may lead a consumer to inflate the likelihood of a future product failure and make him or her inclined to purchase a pro-duct warranty.

2. The Representative heuristic:

Consumers base their predictions on how representative or similar the outcome is to other examples. One reason that package appearances may be so similar for different brands in the same product category is that they want to be seen as representative of the category as a whole.

3. The anchoring and adjustment heuristic:

Consumers arrive at an initial judgment and then make adjustments of that first impression based on additional information. For services marketers, it is critical to make a strong first impression to establish a favorable anchor so that subsequent experiences are interpreted in a more favorable light.

Note that marketing managers also may use heuristics and be subject to biases in their decision making. “Marketing Memo: Decision Traps� reveals 10 common mistakes managers make in thei0r decisions.