Consumer Behaviour & In-store Decision Making


A decision is the selection of an action from two or more alternative choices, which includes the decision of whether or not to make the purchase and which brand to purchase (Schiffman et al 2014). There are three levels of rational decision making that come into play when making a purchase:

  • Extensive Problem Solving: A search by the consumer to establish the necessary product criteria to evaluate knowledgeably the most suitable product to fulfill a need (Schiffman et al 2014)
  • Limited Problem Solving: A limited search by a consumer for a product that will satisfy his or her basic criteria from among a selected group of brands (Schiffman et al 2014).
  • Routinised response Behaviour: A habitual purchase response based on predetermined criteria (Schiffman et al 2014)

There is also a fourth type of decision making which is not considered rational – Impulsive Decision Making. Were all guilty of making impulsive last-minute purchases at the supermarket or local Priceline, but how is is that we are influenced to make these impulsive purchases?

Tendai and Crispens (2009) research shows that marketers attempt to influence the in-store decisions of their potential consumers through ‘creating enjoyable, attractive and modern state-of the-art environments ranging from background music, favourable ventilation, freshened scent, attractive store layout, in-store displays and persuasive shop assistants among other things’. Schiffman et al (2014, p 511) states that the retail environment can effect mood which can effect behaviour. Personally i know that if i’m in a good mood i will spend more time looking at alternative products compared to if i was in a bad mood where it is likely that i would just buy a product and leave the store as quickly as i could.

Take the following two store layouts, which one would you rather? Personally i’d choose the second option hands down. 
Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 12.05.48 pm.png

As well as influencing behaviour through the store layout & design, the in-store marketing activities such as point-of-purchase displays and promotions, through background music and supportive store personnel are all instrumental in both winning consumers and encouraging them to spend more (Tendai & Crispen 2009). Theres something about that four letter word ‘sale’ that attracts us as consumers to purchase something even though we really don’t need it, perhaps its the idea that were only paying a fraction of the original price (Forbes 2015), or that were saving money by buying it now rather than later – something ill admit i’m guilty of. 


Next time you find yourself reaching for that pack of gum or chocolate bar that wasn’t on the list at the end of your grocery shopping, or that book on how to stop impulsive buying, stop and think – what factors may have influenced your impulsive purchase.






Forbes 2015, Impulse buying: Are you guilty?, Forbes, Viewed 10th May 2016, <>

Knerl, S 2014, The best and worst times to go grocery shopping’, Wise Bread, Viewed 11th May 2016, <>

Madden, C n.d, Impulse buyer cartoon – how to stop impulse buying, Chris Madden Cartoons, Viewed 14th May 2016, <;

Schiffman, L, O’Cass, A, Paladino, A & Carlson, J 2014, Consumer Behaviour, 6th edition, Pearson, Australia

Tendai, M & Crispen, C 2009, ‘In-store shopping environment and store environment’, African Journal of Marketing Management, Vol. 1, No. 4, pp 102-108





Social Media & Its Influence on Consumer Behaviour

Social media is rapidly becoming one of the most used marketing communication tools. Figures show that there are currently  2.3 billion active social media users (Smith 2016) with 91% of retail brands using two or more social media channels (Smith 2016) .

Social media blog picture

Research shows that out of all the social media platforms Instagram – an online mobile based photo sharing platform, has the largest influence on consumer behaviour and is recognised as driving more sales and consumer actions than any other social media platform (Geoff 2015).

As well as running an active Instagram profile as a marketing and communication tool, many brands use Instagram influencers to access potential consumers and increase sales. Instagram influencers have a large amount of followers and can influence consumer purchasing decisions with their social media posts (Smitha 2014) . When influencers feature a brands product or service in a social media post it reaches a large audience and increase brand awareness through the influencers followers. These followers may then be influenced to purchase the product or service as a result of the influencers post. 68% of 18-24years old (Instagram’s key user age group) claim they are more likely to buy something after someone they follow on Instagram has shared it (Geoff 2015). Take Sara Donaldson, a well-known fashion blogger who uses her Instagram posts to promote fashion and beauty brands to her followers, by posting just one image wearing a designers item she is exposing it to and influencing her 473,000 followers:

Screen Shot 2016-05-12 at 6.38.15 pm

Instagram can also be used to help create brand awareness before a brand or business has even opened and place a brand into a consumers possible evoked set – the brands a consumer considers when making a purchasing decision (Turley and LeBlanc 1993). Take Quay Canteen – A local Vietnamese street food cafe who focus on social media for its marketing. I (along with many others I’m sure) discovered this cafe while scrolling through my Instagram feed and if it wasn’t for Instagram i quite possibly would never of heard of or visited the cafe due to it’s out of sight location, yet before it was open to the public i was excited to visit the cafe due to the social media coverage. Quay Canteen’s daily Instagram posts influence consumer behaviour by entering the mind of consumers during the decision-making process and influencing them to come in store and experience what the cafe has to offer.

Do you think Instagram is an effective marketing tool? Why/why not?


Donaldson, S 2016, ‘Black is best. Am i right?’, Harperandharley, Instagram, 26th Febuary 2016, Viewed 12th May 2016, <>

Geoff 2015, Instagram Is Now The Most Influential Social Media Platform, Wersm, Viewed 12th May 2016, <>

Instagram Is The Most Influential Social Marketing Tool 2015, BandT Magazine, Viewed 12th May 2016, <>

Quay Canteen 2016, ‘Our weekend lunch specials…’, Quay Canteen, Instagram, 8th May 2016, Viewed 12th May 2016, <>

Smith, K 2016, Marketing: 96 Amazing Social Media Statistics and Facts for 2016, Brandwatch, Viewed 11th May 2016, <>

Smitha, N 2014, How to Define, Identify and Engage Social Media Influencers For Your Brand, The Simply Measured Blog, Weblog post, 2nd April 2014, Viewed 12th May 2016, <>

Turley, L.W, LeBlanc, R 1993, ‘An Eploratory Investigation of Consumer Decision Making in the Service Sector’, The Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 7, No. 4, pp. 11-18


Would You Like a Side of Marketing With That Happy Meal?

Research shows that up until the age of 10 children are unable to distinguish between marketing information and the intent to persuade (Jolly 2011) and are at extremely influential stages of their life. Research also shows that eating behaviours established during these early years track into adulthood and contribute to long-term health and chronic disease risk (Grimm 2004). So is the marketing of fast-food products targeting children at these ages – such as happy meals, ethical? I think not.


Marketing Ethics is defined as ‘designing, packaging, pricing, advertising and distributing products in such a way that negative consequences to consumers, employees and society in general are avoided’ (Schiffman et al. 2014). Marketing ethics is a key part of the Societal Marketing Concept – that all marketers adhere to the principles of social responsibility in the marketing of their goods and services; that is they should endeavour to satisfy the needs and wants of their target markets in ways that preserve and enhance the well-being of consumers and society as a whole, while fulfilling the objectives of the organisation (Schiffman et al. 2014).

Ethical marketing is especially important when the target market is children – a key marketing demographic for many companies (Grimm 2004). A large area of concern is the marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages to children, especially given the link between consumption of high-energy, low-nutrition-value foods and beverages and obesity (Grimm 2004).

Take the classic McDonald’s Happy Meal:cheeseburger happy meal.png

With 639 calories and 940mgs of sodium per a cheeseburger Happy Meal (McDonald’s Australia 2016), a Happy Meal is not something that is considered a healthy choice or seen to ‘enhance the wellbeing of consumers’ (Schiffman et al. 2014). So is the marketing of this product to children through kid’s tv ads and interactive gaming websites acting in the best interests of the consumer or in the best interest of McDonald’s profits?

McDonald’s use the collectible toys included in the product as a key concept in the marketing to children, these toys are usually children’s favourite characters from new children’s movies and only available for a limited time only – encouraging consumers to act now.  A number of research findings show that the use of popular cartoon characters in the packaging of products can have an effect on children (Levin and Levin 2010), so is the use of these toys to assist in the marketing of unhealthy products to children who cannot yet understand the persuasive nature of marketing advertising ethical?


Are McDonald’s and other company’s using child-targeted marketing taking advantage of children’s underdeveloped interpretation skills to set them up for a lifetime of unhealthy consumption? or are they really acting in a way which enhances the ‘wellbeing of consumers and society as a whole’ ?

Do you think the marketing of fast-food to children is ethical?  Why/why not?


Braiker, B 2011, The Next Great American Consumer: Infants to 3-year-olds: They’re a new demographic marketers are hell-bent on reaching, Adweek, Viewed 10th May 2016 <>

‘Fast Food Marketing to Children’ 2007, Public Health Communication, Vol. 1, pp 1-4, viewed 8th May 2016, <>

Grimm, M 2004, ‘Is Marketing to Kids Ethical?’, Brandweek, Vol. 45, No. 14, pp 44-48

Jolly, R 2011, Marketing obesity? Junk food, advertising and kids, Parliament of Australia, Viewed 7th May 2016, <>

Levin, A & Levin I 2010, ‘Packaging of healthy and unhealthy food products for children and parents: The relative influence of licensed characters and brand names’, Journal of Consumer Behaviour, Vol. 9, pp. 393-402

McDonald’s Australia 2016, Nutrition, McDonald’s Australia, viewed 8th May 2016, <>

Minions 2015,  Happy Meal Toys Collection Fan Site, viewed 10th May 2016 <>

Schiffman, L, O’Cass, A, Paladino, A & Carlson, J 2014, Consumer Behaviour, 6th edition, Pearson, Australia