Understanding Consumer Decision Making: The Means-End Approach to Marketing and Advertising Strategy

By Thomas J. Reynolds; Jerry C. Olson | Go to book overview

18
A Means-End Conceptualization of Goal-Directed
Consumer Behavior
Rik Pieters
Tilburg University
Doug Allen
Hans Baumgartner
Pennsylvania State University

ABSTRACT

In this chapter we argue that goal-directed consumer behavior is organized hierarchically as a structure of means-end chains, ranging from concrete, observable motor movements to abstract, personal goals. In a hierarchy of goal-directed behavior, three levels can be distinguished: the identification (or “what”) level, the operation (or “how”) level and the motivation (or “why”) level. These levels in the hierarchy can only be determined relative to each other, as why and how a consumer performs a particular behavior depends on the identification of the behavior. This identification can change in the course of behavior, which accounts for the dynamic quality of consumers' actions. We present research illustrating the usefulness of taking a means-end approach to the study of goal-directed consumer behavior and we discuss some promising avenues for future work.


INTRODUCTION

Consumer behavior researchers have long recognized the value of viewing consumer knowledge as hierarchically structured means-end connections (Gutman, 1982; Olson & Reynolds, 1983). The means-end chain model is intended to explain the relations between product attributes,

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