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Consumer Problem-Solving Processes & Techniques

Consumers, either consciously or subconsciously, employ certain processes to
integrate the information that they have obtained over time to evaluate and
choose among the various alternatives. These formal integration strategies can
be termed compensatory, noncompensatory, or a combination of the two.
Compensatory Strategies
When consumers use compensatory strategies, they use a product’s strengths
in one or more areas to compensate for deficiencies in other areas. In other
words, consumers view products and services as bundles of attributes. The set
of alternatives that a consumer is considering for purchase will contain products
or services that have various combinations of these attributes and their
levels. This multiattribute approach assumes that consumers are capable of
evaluating each of a product’s attributes and then arriving at an overall assessment,
or score, for the product that can be compared to alternative products.
It is believed that consumers make these complicated comparisons and
trade-offs and then choose the product that achieves the highest rating.
For example, the consumer information in Table 3.2 can be used to illustrate
the differences between the various consumer problem-solving processes.

According to the information in the table, if all of the attributes were equally
weighted, the consumer would choose the Four Seasons because it received
the highest average score (3.33) based on the actual ratings. Even though the
hotel received a lower rating for price, its higher ratings on location and service
quality compensated for the deficiency. However, if the weighted averages
are used, the Holiday Inn received the highest average score because this
consumer (or market segment) is relatively price sensitive and Holiday Inn’s
higher rating on price offset the lower ratings on location and service quality.

Noncompensatory Strategies
When using noncompensatory strategies, consumers do not allow product
strengths in one area to compensate for deficiencies or weaknesses in another
area. Instead, consumers place more emphasis on individual attributes and in
some cases develop minimum thresholds to use in evaluating products and
services. There are three main noncompensatory strategies that are used by
consumers: conjunctive, disjunctive, and lexicographic.

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