Choice Based on Goal: An Analysis of Consumer Behavior

Why do we choose one product or brand over another? Why do we choose one store over another? Why do we buy in the first place? The questions may sound like cliches to some of us, while to others, they are axiomatic. However, the reason is to emphasize a fundamental aspect of human behavior. You may recall that we classified human behavior as motivated or goal-oriented in the first unit of this course. Some of us may not have understood it this way, but it is true. The primary feature of human activities is that they are all led by motivations, whether conscious or unconscious. A successful marketer understands and "shapes" motives.

Nonetheless, the power of the incentive may not be particularly significant for the marketer's comfort or pain. This might be because customers are unaware of the significance of their purchasing decisions or because there was no need or occasion for the marketer to address the consumers about the significance of the decisions they make for themselves. The marketer must infuse some of their strength into these motives to enable customer behavior towards the desired goal. This is known as the participation process.

Analyzing Goal Based Choices of Consumers

Goal pursuit research can be divided into two streams of thought: conscious goal pursuit and unconscious goal pursuit. Conscious goal pursuit occurs when the consumer is aware of the goal. In contrast, unconscious goal pursuit occurs when the consumer is unaware of the goal but still engages in behaviors to achieve that goal. The common goals are −

  • The generic type or type of goals consumers choose to meet their needs.

  • Product-specific goals are the products they choose to meet their needs.

Marketers are particularly interested in product-specific goals, that is, brand-specific products and services that consumers choose to achieve their goals. Individuals set goals based on their values and choose the means (or behavior) they believe will help them achieve the desired goal.

Consumer Goals

It includes −


Price is the price a business charges for its product or service. Customers want a fair price when buying a product or service. Usually, low prices attract many customers, even though people ultimately want value for money. The price must match the quality of the product or service the company is selling.


Quality refers to the standard of the product or service provided. Customers always expect a certain level of quality, regardless of the price they pay for a product or service. Low bidders generally expect lower quality, and higher bidders expect higher quality. Similarly, the level of service provided by companies also varies in quality. Low prices generally mean lower quality of service, while higher prices generally mean higher service levels.


The choice is essential – many companies offer various products and services to suit different customer groups. Customers have different needs and want when making a purchase. They may want different styles or sizes or even completely different products. Businesses operating through e-commerce may have more choices, as the display space in a physical store does not limit them.


Customers and consumers are looking for convenience and are generally willing to pay more for it. Convenience is more manageable, faster, or less complicated for the customer. An example of this is buying clothes or food online instead of going to a store or taking them out – customers are often willing to pay the extra delivery cost so they can stay home. Another example is a ticketing business that can display tickets through a smartphone app instead of asking customers to print tickets.

Goal-Based Model

Objective-based product selection and evaluation model that explains the role of transient goal triggers in relative product selection and evaluation processes is simple. It contributes

  • To provide a coherent and consistent account of goal-based product reviews/selections,

  • Provides a theory of how goal activation affects the evaluation and selection of products, and

  • Makes predictions about new phenomena, moderators, and boundary conditions in objective-based product evaluation and selection.

Goals are the cognitive representation of a desired state, or in other words, our mental idea of how we want things. This desired end state of the goal can be well defined (e.g., walking on the surface of Mars), or it can be more abstract and represent a state that is never fully achieved (e.g., healthy eating). However, behind all of these goals is the motivation or psychological drive to act in pursuit of that goal.

Motivation can come from two places First, it can come from the benefits of pursuing a goal (intrinsic motivation). For example, you might be motivated by a desire to have a satisfying experience on a mission to Mars. Second, motivation can also come from the benefits associated with achieving a goal (extrinsic motivation), such as the fame and fortune of being first on Mars. An easy way to look at internal and external motivation is to look through your own eyes as a student.

Goal Selection

Goals selected by individuals are subject to personal experience, physical capabilities, pervasive cultural values, norms, and access to physical and social goals. Consumers have multiple possible goals when making decisions. They are strongly influenced by their experiences, their personalities as well as the opinions and contributions of others.

When choosing goals, they should consider what is socially acceptable and what they can achieve physically.

Theory of Rational Action

Consumer behavior is "the analysis of the behavior of individuals and households purchasing goods and services for personal consumption ."Mark Fishbein's rational action theory states that "consumer behavior is determined by that individual's intention to engage in behavior and that this behavior is a combination of the consumer's consumption and subjective norms ."Adapting this theory demonstrates that an essential aspect for marketers is interpreting consumer behavior, which can be achieved by understanding and adapting the fundamentals of demand, consumer motives, and goals.

Through years of research, explaining consumer behavior has evolved from a simple hierarchical process. to different theories about the social structures that give rise to consumer behaviors. Much ongoing research in modern society has established that consumer behavior is a complex marketing relationship that psychological, biological, and social influences can influence. Awareness of these influences and their impact allows marketers to survive and thrive in a highly competitive market.

The rational action theory is a mathematical model that allows scientists to predict behavioral intentions based on attitudes and subjective norms. The theory of rational action was first proposed by psychologists Martin Fishbein and Icek Ajzen to improve Information Integration Theory, another model of human behavior. The three most essential components of the rational action theory are beliefs, attitudes, and intentions. Belief generally describes a person's ability to believe that an action will lead to a particular outcome; attitude regarding whether someone thinks the outcome is favorable or unfavorable; and intentions, how a person intends to behave in response to beliefs and attitudes.

Fishbein and Ajzen proposed a hierarchy for the theory of rational action. They believe that attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control all contribute to intention formation, which, to some extent, drives behavior. Extrinsic variables such as demographics and personality influence the underlying behavioral beliefs, norms, and controls.

Consumer Choice Theory

"Consumer Choice Theory" is a hypothesis about why people buy. You choose to buy what makes you most satisfied while respecting your budget. At the heart of this theory are three assumptions about human nature. The first assumption is that when you shop, you buy things based on calculated decisions about what will make you happy. In economic parlance, this is utility maximization (economists like to put pretty simple concepts in long, complex terms.) Second, the theory assumes you will never be delighted no matter how much you shop. In other words, you will always be happier when you consume a little more. This is called the dissatisfaction principle. Third, although you always feel happier when you consume more, the level of satisfaction you get from each good decreases as you consume.


The goal of consumer choice is to achieve the optimal allocation of capital to achieve maximum utility between two goods or services. Consumers should buy products within their budget limits and with maximum marginal utility. The customer recognises a need. This need can be utilitarian (a desire to acquire some functional or practical gain, such as when a person needs a pair of sturdy sneakers) or hedonic (an experience need incorporating emotional reactions or fantasies). The consumer's purpose is to achieve the desired condition.

Updated on: 06-Mar-2023


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