Four Modes of Consumer Decision Making

By John Dudovskiy

Four Modes of Consumer Decision Making The study of decision  making models plays an integral role in analysing the level of rationality of customer decision making. Namely, the concept of four modes of consumer decision making  proposed by O’Guinn et al (2011). The concept divides consumer decision – making into four different modes according to the level of their involvement, as well as, the level of their personal experiences with the brand.



High Involvement Low Involvement
Low Experience Extended problem solving Limited problem solving
High Experience Brand loyalty Habit or variety seeking


Extended problem solving

Extended problem solving customer decision – making mode relates to a situation where customers lack experience in a specific consumption setting, nevertheless, the setting is perceived by them as a highly involving. The products are usually of a high value and they also contribute to an individual’s social status, however, their purchase is often associated with significant amount of risk in terms of making improper purchase decision. Purchasing the first car or the first house can be mentioned as instances for extended problem solving.


Limited problem solving

Customer decision – making mode of limited problem solving, relates to a situation where both, customer experience, as well as, the level of their involvement are low. Considered to be the most common mode of decision – making, it lacks systematic approach in terms of decision – making. Examples for this mode of decision – making might include searching for and purchasing products and services associated with pest control within private properties.

In other words, as Perrey and Spillecke (2011) confirm, limited problem – solving customer decision – making mode relate to situations where customers are attempting to find appropriate solutions to their unpleasant issues. Retailers often attempt to attract such type of customers by employing a range of marketing techniques that include introducing discount vouchers, offering free samples etc.


Habit or variety seeking

Habit or variety seeking is the customer decision – making mode where a decision is not involving, however, there are high amount of repeated purchases from a specific brand. For example, the purchase of a specific brand of a dishwasher gel can be repeated over a long period of time in a habitual manner, without re-considering the value associated with the brand even when there are more valuable alternatives have emerged in the market.

Variety seeking relates to instances where customer moves to another brand within a given product category. At the same time, interestingly, “from one purchase occasion to the next, the individual  will switch brands from within this set, just for the sake of variety” (O’Guinn et al, 2011, p.175).


Brand loyalty

Customers with a decision – making mode of brand loyalty practice high level of involvement in decision – making and they also possess high level of experience with a particular brand. Instances of brand loyalty customer decision – making mode include using specific brand of cigarettes for a long period of time.

According to Cant et al (2009), factors effecting customer brand loyalty in retail setting include brand name, the quality of products and services, price and style of products, environment of the store, the level and nature of promotion offered, and the quality of customer services provided. Considerable amount of financial resources are usually invested by leading retailers in order to enhance their brand image and therefore increase their long-term growth prospects.



  • Cant, M.C., Strydom, J.W. & Jooste, C.J. (2009) “Marketing Management” Juta Publications
  • O’Guinn, T.C., Allen, C.T. & Semenik, R.J. (2011) “Advertising and Integrated Brand Promotion” Cengage Learning
  • Perrey, J & Spillecke, D. (2011) “Retail Marketing and Branding: A Definitive Guide to Maximising ROI” John Wiley & Sons

Category: Consumer Behaviour