Post-purchase decision Processes and Behaviour

Dr. Brian Monger

Once the buyer makes a decision to purchase a value proposition, there can be several types of additional behaviour associated with that decision.

Four activities are of primary importance:

(1)   Where to purchase (store choice)

(2)   How to pay (e.g. credit card/store credit/cash)

(3) Decisions on delivery and installation

(4) Decisions on additional products/value acquisitions (products related to the item purchased).

Shopping Decisions

Fully Planned Purchase

Partially Planned Purchase.

(NB the Purchase may in fact also have been unplanned at the time of purchase)

The Shopping Experience

The Social Experience of Shopping – Shopping with others

The Shopping Situation

Physical and Social Surrounds

The Status Experience

The Thrill of the Chase

Sharing Common Interests

A Meeting Location

Shopping as Participative Theatre

Role Playing

The Heroes

The Cast/Performance Team – Characters to see

The Stage

Mall/Shopping Centre Image

Store Image – Atmosphere

The Performance


Social Activity



One of the post decision is how the acquisition will be financed.

Potential options include:

  • Lay-by
  • Credit card
  • Cheque
  • Lease
  • Hire purchase
  • Rental
  • Store credit
  • Bank loan

Each is a potentially an important decision which may affect the buyers overall purchase choice

Decisions on Value Acquisition

Two important post-purchase decisions to be made relate to delivery and installation.

Not all products require these sort of decisions and some do not offer the options.


  1. Can the buyer take immediate possession and take it home?
  2. Can delivery be organised by the seller?
  3. When can delivery occur?


The value proposition must be made ready for the buyer to use. Televisions, hi-fi units, and air conditioners, for example, all must be carefully set up if the consumer is to find satisfaction from their use.

Another element of value acquisition set-up and use concerns instructions

Marketing Implications

It is also important for the marketer to understand the user’s consumption system, that is, the manner in which the consumer performs the total task of whatever he or she is trying to accomplish when using the value acquisition, whether it is washing clothes or cooking a meal.

Decisions on Additional (Related) Products/Value Acquisitions

A buyer of one item becomes a candidate for all sorts of options and related value acquisitions.

Retailers have learned that the profits are often in the optional extras that a buyer purchases, rather than in the original product itself.

Post-Purchase Behaviour

Post Purchase Behaviour is what occurs after the value proposition becomes the Value acquisition.

When the buyer become the user/consumer.

Some important marketing implications flow from buyers post-purchase decisions.

Post-Purchase Behavior

PPB  deals with actual rather than potential customers

It has an impact on future sales.

Information learned can be used to improve products and services, undertake better targeted promotions, and design more effective strategies to keep actual customers and attract new ones.

Product Consumption

Consumption is the possession and/or use of goods and services and the benefits they deliver

Consumption situation

  • Physical context: time and place of consumption
  • Social context: the presence of others
  • Consumption episode: the set of items belonging to the same event and occurring in temporal proximity
  • Consumption system: a bundle of goods and services that are consumed over time in multiple episodes.
  • How is the product used?
  • How much is consumed at any one time?

Post-purchase Dissonance

Consumers may become dissonant over a purchase decision.  Cognitive dissonance occurs as a result of a discrepancy between a consumer’s decision and the consumer’s prior evaluation.  This theory was derived from two basic principles:

(1) dissonance is uncomfortable and will motivate the person to reduce it and

(2) individuals experiencing dissonance will avoid situations that produce more dissonance.

Assessment Results From Dissonance

Dissonance is doubt or inconsistency between the buyer’s perception of the state he or she wants to exist and the state that actually exists. We purchase something and we expect it to work over a reasonable period of time. If it does not, then we have doubts about our purchase.

Dissonance disrupts the buyer’s equilibrium with this doubt causing the person to seek relief. This relief is assessment, and it is the direct result of dissonance.

Dissonance Is Normal

Dissonance is a mental state because the doubt exists in the mind. There is no question that dissonance occurs in a great many, if not all, buying situations.

We consider dissonance to be normal after a decision or product selection – but not inevitable.

It may occur for no other reason than that the buyer wants to check the results of the decision to be sure.

Factors That Cause Dissonance

There are several factors that make dissonance highly likely both before and after the purchase.

First, there is price or total payment cost.

Second, there is psychological importance.

Third, there is product performance.

Fourth, there is the number of rejected alternatives.

Fifth is the perceived performance of alternatives rejected.

Sixth, the credibility of the source of new information affects the amount of dissonance it causes.

Purchase-Associated Cognitive Dissonance

It occurs at “time of commitment”.

It is the feeling of uncertainty about whether the right choice is being made.

There is no finite time of possession or use requirement for it to occur.

Factors that Affect Cognitive Dissonance

  • Importance of the purchase decision
  • Consumer’s tendency toward anxiety
  • Finality of the purchase decision
  • Clarity of the final purchase choice
Conditions Leading to Dissonance

Dissonance is likely to occur under the following conditions:

1. Once a minimum threshold of dissonance tolerance is passed.

2.  The action is irrevocable

3.  Unselected alternatives have desirable features.

4.  There are several desirable alternatives.

5.  Available alternatives are quite dissimilar in their qualities (there is little “cognitive overlap”).

6.  The buyer is committed to his decision because it has psychological significance.

7.  There is no pressure applied to the consumer to make the decision.

Types of Consumption Situations

Extensive marketer control

Limited marketer control

No marketer control

Consumption Norms

Consumption Rituals

Types of Consumption Situations

Ritual Consumption

Special and Ordinary Consumption

Special consumption

Ordinary consumption

Types of Consumption Situations

Compulsive Consumption


Post-purchase Evaluation

There are several functions which this stage serves. 

First, it serves to broaden the consumer’s set of experiences stored in memory.

Second, it provides a check on how well he is doing as a consumer in selecting value acquisitions, stores, and so on.

Third, the feedback that the consumer receives from this stage helps to make adjustments in future purchasing strategies.

Positive Post-purchase Behaviour

Positive evaluation

Loyalty develops over time through positive market experiences

Loyalty phases:

Cognitive (based on beliefs only)

Affective (like, based on repeated satisfying use)

Conative (behavioral intention loyalty)

Action (strong readiness to act)

Buyer/Consumer Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction

Satisfaction is an important element in the evaluation stage.

Satisfaction refers to the buyer’s state of being adequately rewarded in a buying situation for the sacrifice he or she has made.

Adequacy of satisfaction

Satisfaction/dissatisfaction isn’t an emotion,

Expectation and Satisfaction

Product experiences can be classified into three types based on the degree to which consumer expectations are fulfilled (confirmation) or not (expectancy disconfirmation):

Simple confirmation:

Positive disconfirmation:

Negative disconfirmation:

Buyer/Consumer Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction

If satisfaction perceptions are less than expected, then negative disconfirmation is said to have occurred.

Satisfaction Versus Dissatisfaction

The level of satisfaction or dissatisfaction we experience depends upon how well the product’s performance meets our expectations

A finite time period of possession is necessary to determine satisfaction

Satisfaction is not easily measured because:

  • It means different things to different people
  • The level of satisfaction can change over time
  • Satisfaction can change when consumer needs and preferences change

Satisfaction may include a social dimension (the experience of others may add or subtract from our own satisfaction)

Categories of Satisfactory Performance




Relationship Between Performance and Satisfaction

Aspects of performance related to satisfaction:

Objective performance



Consumers form certain expectations prior to the purchase.  These expectations may be about:

(1) the nature and performance of the product (

(2) the costs and efforts to be expended before obtaining the direct value acquisition benefits, and

(3) the social benefits or costs accruing to the consumer as a result of the purchase.

Disconfirmation of Expectations

Instead, a modifying variable known as “disconfirmation of expectations”

Such disconfirmation can be of two varieties:

a positive disconfirmation,

a negative disconfirmation.

Confirming Expectations 

When the purchase confirms the consumer’s expectations, reinforcement takes place.

When expectations are not confirmed, however, cognitive inconsistency develops and the consumer will likely reduce the dissonance by evaluating the product (or store) somewhat negatively.

Unrealistic Expectations

Consumer expectations may be set unrealistically high, with resultant dissatisfaction when they are not fulfilled, as when the product breaks down for some reason.

In order to reduce this occurrence, products should be carefully developed with the consumer in mind.  A clear understanding of how the value acquisition will be used and how it fits into the consumer’s lifestyle is necessary.

Managing Expectations

Expectations are formed by many uncontrollable factors, from the experience of customers with other companies and their advertising to a customer’s psychological state at the time he or she receives service.

Strictly speaking, what customers expect is as diverse as their backgrounds, education, values, and experiences.

Managing Expectations

Customer expectations are dynamic and shift over time.” Over-promising and under-delivering will result in dissatisfaction.

Customers want the product to be delivered as promised – explicitly, as in a tender submission, or less explicitly via mass media advertising or promotion material.

Zone of Indifference

Discussing customer satisfaction issues would be incomplete without reference to the zone of indifference.

The extent to which customers are willing to accept some degree of variation is referred to as the zone of indifference

Expectation Types

  • Desired (or- ideal) expectations
  • Equitable or deserved expectation
  • Predictive expectations
  • Adequate (or minimum tolerable) expectations
  • Fuzzy expectations
  • Explicit expectations
  • Implicit expectations

Closing the Gap Between Expectation and Performance

Marketers must understand consumer expectations and the extent to which purchases satisfy them.

Marketers must match product benefits to consumer needs:

  • Needs of target market and the benefits of the product must be a good fit.
  • Communication must clearly describe both the product’s benefits and the way it is to be used
  • Do not raise consumer expectations beyond the actual benefits that the product offers.

Normative Standard Definition

This is evaluating satisfaction on the basis of whether or not the customers believed that they were treated in accordance with how they believe they should be treated.

Some people have higher expectations of treatment in any given service situation.

Normative Deficit Definition

Procedural Fairness Definition

Measuring Customer Satisfaction

The most common means of measuring client satisfaction:

* asking customers;

* investigating complaints;

* evaluating service attributes;

* asking customers what will increase their satisfaction;

* asking what is wrong or could be improved.

The difficulty that researchers have with measuring client satisfaction is that customers are not always able to define their satisfaction levels.

Moreover, customers more often than not do not know if they are satisfied. They can assume that they are satisfied because they use the service frequently, but this may not be the case.

Reducing Dissonance

What consumers do:

Try to find ways to reinforce the desirability of the choice made

Try to make the “losing” choices look weaker

Try to lessen the importance of the choice decision than they had originally thought

What marketers must do:

Match their products with the appropriate target consumers

Offer clear communication, return policies, warranties, in-store demonstrations

Make salespeople available to answer questions

Negative Post-Purchase Behaviour



Types of negative post-purchase behaviour:

Negative word-of-mouth


Complaint behavior (no action, private action, public action)

Marketers Often Create Dissonance

That is to try and suggest to a prospect that something could be better

Dissonance Reduction

There are several major ways in which the consumer strives to reduce dissonance.  He or she may:

(1) change his or her valuation of the alternative,

(2) seek new information to support his or her choice, or

(3) change his or her attitudes.

Changing Value Acquisition Evaluations

Seek New Information

Change His Or Her Attitudes

Individual Responses to Dissatisfaction

The individual buyer is not helpless when dealing with frustrations toward organisations.

The Buyer Can Engage In Three Types Of Behaviour When Dissatisfied.

These actions can be summarised as:

Take no action.

Trade elsewhere.

Contact organisation representatives.

Take legal action

Take No Action

A dissatisfied buyer may choose to take no action against the offending firm, simply deciding that confronting the firm would not be worthwhile.

Trade Elsewhere

A problem with this course of action is that it seldom works for individuals. Few businesses miss one or two customers. Even so, buyers may obtain considerable satisfaction from withdrawing their trade.

Contact Organisation Or Representatives

Typically, customers take their complaints either to the salesperson or department manager where the dissatisfaction occurred. If the problem is a defective product, discourteous salespeople, or something similar, this is a good place to begin.

Final Actions

Take the matter up with Government Departments

Take the Matter to Interested Media

Take Legal Action

If all else fails, the customer has the right to take legal action against the firm.

Selling Misery To Others

Some buyers use the technique of selling their own misery to others as a means of reducing dissonance.

Marketer Actions to Reduce Dissatisfaction

  • Build realistic expectations
  • Demonstrate or explain product use
  • Stand behind the product
  • Encourage customer feedback
  • Periodically make contact with customers

Product Disposition

It is the process of reselling, recycling, trashing, repairing, trading and the like associated with the physical product, packaging, and its promotional materials when no longer perceived as useful by the consumer or marketer.

Role of the consumer

Recycle, donate, repair, pass on to others, conserve resources, consider “efficiency ratings” of products including autos, recycle with fee (battery, oil), reuse shopping containers, etc.

Role of the marketer

Use more (easily) recyclable materials

Encourage and support recycling

Use resources more efficiently


Product Disposition

Environmental issues

Populist (fashion/fads) issues

Disposal Options

Keep the item –  use it in a secondary role (shed fridge)

Temporarily dispose of it – awaiting future disposal

Lateral cycling – passing it on or selling it to someone

These are outline notes from a MAANZ course.  If you are interested in obtaining the full set of notes (and a PowerPoint presentation) please contact us –

Dr. Brian Monger is the Executive Director of MAANZ International and a Principal Consultant with The Centre for Market Development.  His profile can be found on LinkedIn.

He is available for consulting tasks and speaking engagements

Did you find this article useful?  Please let us know

Also check out other articles on

MAANZ International website



5 thoughts on “Post-purchase decision Processes and Behaviour

  1. Brian, if there is one thing we have come to expect of you, it is thorough analysis and information. You present such a vast amount of info to ingest, that we are sure we will find ourselves referencing back here a few times.

    You highlight an array of points that affect sales and customer experiences, and the fact of the matter is that each of these points is absolutely crucial to how the brand / business is finally positioned in the consumers eyes.

    I think that most businesses reading this will be overwhelmed, but need to be urged to read over the whole and then narrow down a few points that they can work on “exploiting”:(a nasty word).

    For example if a business knows that their products will 9 times out of 10 rely on delivery, HOW can they make that delivery the best experience possible? and so on and so forth.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe what you are trying to convey here, are the key factors through which the customer experience is developed?

    For the business owner, taking time to go through and pick a few factors and improve them will prove highly beneficial.

    If I had one critique, it would be that perhaps at the outset of this post, you could highlight this to reduce the rather overwhelming feel of your post.

    EXCELLENT content none-the-less.

  2. Pingback: Customer Experience: The “NEW” Branding |

  3. Woah! I’m really loving the templatetheme of this website. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s hard to get that perfect balance between usability and visual appeal. I must say you have done a great job with this. In addition, the blog loads super quick for me on Firefox. Excellent Blog! gdfkdgeedeba

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s