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





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