Search behaviour : an analysis of information collection and usage during the decision process
The purpose of this research was to investigate the nature of consumer decision making. It considered the purchase of a video cassette recorder and investigated whether the assumptions of a model based on satisficing behaviour could be justified. It considered the nature of search behaviour and evaluation during the decision process and the factors which might influence it. The research therefore studied the stages of the decision process from the nature of Problem Recognition and Problem Classification, including the development of evoked sets during the decision process, the preference for and use of different information sources, the nature of search behaviour, the importance of choice criteria and the decision rules used while employing these choice criteria. This was investigated using three seperate but linked research approaches. A sample of the population in the West of Scotland was analysed to investigate differences between video owners and non video owners, while qualitative interviews were conducted to study the decision process itself. Conjoint Analysis was used to consider the relative importance of choice criteria. The study confirmed the sequential nature of the decision process and found a phased sequence of choice and search. Despite the nature of the good (expensive and innovative) the decision was generally considered of a low involvement nature. While the predictions of low involvement learning that a satisficing decision would be taken were found to be true our findings disagreed with the accepted theory on the use of information sources. It was also considered that it would be wrong to assume no cognitive processes were taking place as various choice heuristics were found which simplified the decision for the consumer.