What Are the Different Types of Consumer Behavior?

Article Details
  • Written By: Jessica Ellis
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 06 October 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
In 1961, the Kennedy family was given a puppy named Pushinka; her mother was one of the first Soviet space dogs.  more...

October 17 ,  1777 :  The British surrendered to US military forces in the Battle of Saratoga.  more...

The different types of consumer behavior determine how consumers make purchasing decisions. Though there are many influences on buyer behavior, four main categories are often cited as the primary factors in a purchasing decision. The four major types of consumer behavior are habitual, variety, complex, and dissonance-reduction. Each of the different types of consumer behavior may be motivated by a variety of influences, including need, cultural influence, and psychological factors.

Habitual buying habits are the most common and the simplest purchasing decisions for most consumers. Choosing to buy a bunch of bananas rarely requires much extensive research on brands and product offering, and may be done on a regular or habitual basis. Since a bunch of bananas from one brand is likely to be quite similar to one from another brand, there is not a high level of distinction between product choices. Habitual buying behavior is most often found with low-cost products for which a consumer has a regular need; price, convenience, and brand loyalty may sometimes affect habitual purchasing decisions.


Varietal buying, also called limited decision making, involves a little more thought than habitual behavior. This type of behavior also requires little research on the part of the buyer, but may exist in markets where there is a high level of product variety. When buying ice cream, for instance, a consumer may have to choose between a hundred different flavors, often from different brands. Varietal buying is frequently motivated by the desire for a change from habits, or the search for a better product.

Complex or extensive decision making behavior requires research and significant difference exist between products. Dissonance-reduction decisions, by contrast, also may require research, but occur in markets where there is little difference between products. Both of the categories tend to apply to markets where products are high value and irregular purchases, such as houses or jewelry. Buying a car is often a complex decision, because there are many different brands and models that offer distinct features. Buying a one-carat pair of diamond earrings, however, might be a dissonance-reduction decisions, since most one-carat earrings will be roughly similar, regardless of brand.

The motivating factors behind the different types of consumer behavior can be extremely complex. Need typically motivates most habitual purchases, such as food and gasoline. Cultural or social influence may affect decisions by giving a consumer a set frame of reference by which purchases are judged; for instance, a person may buy a certain style of jacket because it is said to be “in style” for the season. Personal and psychological attitudes or preconceptions may significantly alter some types of consumer behavior: a person who is against pesticides will likely buy only organic produce, for instance.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 3

@bythewell - I think brand loyalty is also about convenience though. There are a lot of choices in the world and making choices is difficult especially when you have to do it all the time. If you know and trust a particular brand, then you don't have to make that particular choice.

The only problem is when people do it blindly, but I think most people are pretty good at the initial research.

Post 2

@Iluviaporos - They've actually done studies where they were scanning the brains of people who were shown logos of, say, Coke and Pepsi and the brains of the people who were shown the Coke logo would light up as though they had seen a friend.

I suspect that advertising and other means of building a brand identity tie into our biological need for a community and our loyalty to that community.

When someone becomes a rabid fan of Apple, for example, they are creating a them vs. us mentality against all other brands. It makes them feel like they belong to something bigger than themselves. And it also creates its own little insular group where everyone is backing up the party line.

I'm not saying anything against Apple, but they do tend to attract very loyal consumers. And I don't think anyone should be that loyal to a company that exists only to make money.

Post 1

Brand loyalty seems to be a really big thing with certain kinds of products and people. Look at how attached people become to particular brands of electronics, for example. It gets to the point where they will automatically buy whatever the brand releases and will defend it to the ground no matter what, which doesn't make sense to me. I mean, companies can release awesome products that might be worth promoting, but they can just as easily get it wrong and people should be aware that no company is infallible.

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?