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Unformatted text preview: their existing knowledge for categories such as cigarettes and milk that
change relatively little over time [Kirzner, 2001:47]. The final point with regard to
product characteristics is that of search sequence. The sequence of search refers to the
order in which search activities occur. Much research has been done in determining the
order in which product attribute information is acquired [Schiffman & Kanuk, 2000:154;
Kotler, 2000:179; and Mitchell, 2000:34]. This, however, does not fall within the scope
of this study. Market characteristics can vary a lot but one of the most common ones is that of distance.
The number of stores that the consumer visits will often be determined by how far each
store is located from the other. The greater the distance, the more likely it is that the
consumer will visit fewer stores. The similarity among retailers such as layout and
variety also plays a role, as consumers perceive important differences. If the differences
are significant enough, chances are that searching will take place [Campo et al., 2000:219
and Burnett & Baker, 2001:4]. Consumer characteristics refer to elements that make an individual unique to others. As
many typical components, such as learning and social status have already been discussed,
two points of interest need to be brought to mind, that of perceived risks and a purchase’s
importance. Typical risks that a consumer would contemplate [Hawkins et al., 2001:606
and Lovelock & Wright, 1999:73] are listed below:
• financial risks – monetary loss and unexpected costs; • functional risks – unsatisfactory performance outcomes; • sensory risks – unwanted impacts on any of the human five senses; • temporal risks – wasting time and consequences of delays; • psychological risks – personal fears and emotions; • physical risks – personal injury or damage to possessions; and 88 • social risks – how others think and react. With regard to the list of potential risks, a young consumer might ask themselves various
questions in order not to be put in an undesirable position. What will my friends think,
will it taste good, am I wasting my money, will it quench my thirst and so on.
Consumers, particularly children, often engage in very little external search before a
purchase, regardless of importance. There are, however, quite a few consumers that
make important purchases despite not doing much internal or external searching
[Brassington & Pettit, 1997:97 and Gregan-Paxton & John, 1995:567]. Situation characteristics such as physical features and task definition are also capable of
influencing a consumer’s search process and will be discussed in the section dealing with
purchases. 2.7.3 Alternative evaluation Alternative evaluation is the third step in the consumer decision-making process and can
be defined as the process by which alternatives are evaluated and selected to meet
consumer needs [Engel et al., 1995:206; Kotler, 2000:180; and Churchill & Peter,
1998:146]. There are n...
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