Alternative Evaluation In Buying Decisions

How can people select a brand from the available brand options? Are there any recognizable and prominent criteria that customers use to evaluate products? Do buyers choose the best option and reject the inferior ones? How do people navigate a tangle of competing brands with substantial attribute differences? Although the answers to the aforementioned questions are crucial for marketers, there is rarely a straightforward or singular solution.

For starters, even though a product is the same, buyers employ different evaluation criteria in various purchasing circumstances. For instance, several evaluation techniques are applied in this regard. Therefore, a personal computer buyer will have a wide range of options and various computer qualities to consider.

Alternative Evaluation: The Four Components

Once a buyer tries to learn more about the planned purchase, alternatives become available. Consumers who searched for information on their needs for a product would have discovered the following −

Product Attributes

A product is best characterized as a "bundle of advantages articulated through its features wanted by its target consumer," as we have observed in our introductory course on marketing NIS-6. As a result, customers may identify several product qualities throughout their information search. For instance, someone looking to purchase a family vehicle could consider style, affordable maintenance, fuel efficiency, and desirable pricing qualities. Similarly, a female lipstick shopper may determine after research that the required qualities include a variety of hues, packaging, pricing, and prestige. Consumer preferences affect the product's features. Also, they are constantly influenced by customer wants.

The Utility Function of Each Attribute

The attribute in question serves a practical purpose. The utility may only sometimes be available. That could be sensitive. For instance, the car's fuel efficiency feature gives the impression that the driver is conscious of conserving costly gasoline and has a clear, practical benefit. Like the last example, lipstick's price is influenced by its practical and emotional value. The scope of the therapy goes beyond what an economist would have us think.

Importance Weights of Attributes

It is unlikely that all the traits customer lists are equally important to them or others. Various customers' perceptions of comparable goods vary. Hence, a middle-class automobile buyer may learn via information research that fuel efficiency is more essential than styling, while a high-income buyer would believe the opposite. Similarly, a lipstick buyer in a rural area can think that the price is more significant than the prestige element, while her urban counterpart would believe the opposite. Nevertheless, the actual weights assist users in arriving at a fair judgment.

Set of Brand Beliefs

Consumers learn about various claims and positions of the brands—more often known as brand images—on their superior qualities via information searches. Customers are more inclined to believe that a brand with a positive image has a certain quality. The fact that these brand perceptions depend on customer perception and may diverge from reality should be mentioned here. So, the prospective automobile customer can think that the Maruti Esteem has style when this is not necessarily the case. A potential purchaser of lipstick may think that the Lakme brand is affordable, which is untrue. These four components interact to form the alternative evaluation process. Consumers will determine how their pleasure (utility) will change in response to shifting levels of performance in those qualities after confirming that the brands under consideration contain all the desired traits. The benefit of the utility function is that customers may create what is referred to as an ideal brand by combining the performance levels of salient qualities.

Formation of Brand Sets for Alternative Evaluation

A choice of how many brands will compete for customers' attention during the alternative assessment process is essential. As was previously said, a customer would learn about the presence of numerous brands offered in the market through internal or external information searches. Knowing the following brands that consumers are considering has various marketing benefits. Initially, marketers may discover how well-known their brands are among consumers. Second, it shows the boundaries of customer recall and awareness for the range of brands.

Thirdly, marketers can strengthen their efforts to advance their brands in the consideration and decision set. Last but not least, marketers may work to prevent the decline of their brands in the incompetent set and may offer information to satisfy any initial expectations that customers may have for the brands.

The Choice-Making Rules

Only some individuals could assume that customers evaluate options without following methods or standards. This is only sometimes the case, as the following details will demonstrate. Customers evaluate products using a set of rules. At the choosing stage, customers must combine and integrate the information in such a way that supports decision making for the product or service after recognizing the need for it and having finished their information search for pertinent criteria.

Consumers make various decisions over time for various goods and brands. These decisions are based on predetermined standards known as heuristics or choice rules. Consumers can make difficult decisions successfully and rationally thanks to these heuristics.

The Benefits of Choice Heuristics

Choice rules or rules of thumb offer many advantages to consumers. They guide them while making decisions; offer a shortcut to a decision; allow them to integrate and arrange information so that decisions may be made quickly and efficiently; and, in consumer information processing, help them better face complexities.

The Use of Choice Rules

Purchase decisions can be easy or difficult, as was said in the preceding section. There are typically three sorts of purchasing decisions. Extended Problem Solving is the purchase choice behavior that requires the highest complexity (EPS). It generally appears for products with significant levels of participation. Limited Problem Solving is the second kind (LPS). Mid-range decision-making is involved. The most prevalent and regular procedure is called Regular Reaction Behavior (RRB). Concerning minimal participation items, the latter is the most obvious.

The Choice Rules and the Multi-Attribute Choice Models

Multi-attribute choice models describe how customers mix their sentiments towards multiple brand alternatives with their perceptions of product qualities. These models presuppose that the best-attitude brand will be picked. They also presume that customers follow the conventional Hierarchy of Effects order (Awareness - Interest - Desire - Action).

The Basic Choice Heuristics

Ultimately, a choice must be taken, regardless of the intricacy or uncertainty the client may be experiencing. The following selection guidelines may be beneficial to consumers. It has been noted that most buyers attempt to "satisfice" their purchasing goals rather than maximize them while making purchases. Given the complexity of the situation, it frequently becomes necessary. A complicated treatment is also unnecessary for consumers of these items because most products demand a mild to low degree of purchasing engagement. Thus, some fundamental decision heuristics for the Limited Problem Solving (LPS) and Routine Reaction Behaviour (RRB) buying scenarios are explained in this section.

The After-Referral Heuristic

The choosing rule, in this case, is the most basic of all. Here, consumers may get information on former brand alternatives they have tested from their memories of earlier encounters. As a result, customers employ a holistic approach focused on their overall impressions of a particular product rather than analyzing brand qualities separately. This guideline will likely be used in the context of RRB' and routine purchases. As a result, for instance, when evaluating the purchase of everyday consumables like cigarettes, salt, tea, etc., consumers will retrieve brand alternatives from their memories and prior encounters in the order of their excellent thoughts towards them.

The Conjunctive Heuristic

Even though it is an Unusual purchasing circumstance, the conjunctive heuristic aids customers in vetting the brands when there are several brand options with distinctive characteristics. Consumers define the minimal requirements for each feature that each brand option under consideration must have in this case. If not, the brand alternative is turned down.

The Lexicographic Heuristic

This choosing rule is more optimistic than the conjunctive heuristic. This heuristic seeks to choose the finest brand alternatives from the available alternatives rather than rejecting the subpar ones. Customers must rank the significance of the features in the competing brands' alternatives before applying this heuristic. The brand alternatives are then ranked based on these characteristics. Regardless of the values of other attributes, the brand option with the highest score for the most critical attribute is picked. If all brand alternatives receive the same rating for this feature, their ratings for the second-most crucial attribute are considered, and the brand with the highest rating is picked. The procedure continues until the disparate performance scores determine that one brand option is preferable.


When considering a planned purchase, choosing how many brands to compete for customers' attention during the alternative assessment process is essential. Knowing the brands consumers are considering has various marketing benefits, such as discovering how well-known their brands are among consumers, showing the boundaries of customer recall and awareness, strengthening their efforts to advance their brands in the consideration and decision set, and providing information to satisfy initial expectations.

Consumers make decisions based on predetermined heuristics or choice rules, which can help them make difficult decisions successfully and rationally. The selection guidelines may benefit consumers in Limited Problem Solving (LPS) and Routine Reaction Behaviour (RRB) buying scenarios.