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  • Writer's pictureFlorian

The major types of online consumer behavior

This new age of retail is marked by the transition of the customer buying experience from brick-and-mortar shopping to online shopping. And it occurred much more quickly and on a much larger scale than ever anticipated.


I think we should thank the pandemic for this. 😊 Consumer expectations are completely different from a few years ago, and along with trends and consumption behavior has changed. So, are brands ready for all this?


Online consumer behavior is the process of how consumers make decisions to purchase products in ecommerce. The behaviors themselves, such as identifying a problem or deciding to make a purchase, are based on ever-evolving expectations and needs. And while needs look different for every shopper, the new expectations that currently drive online consumer behavior are entrenched in commonality. Of course, the behavior of a consumer when buying a coffee is much different than when buying a car. The way consumers make purchasing decisions is influenced by a set of (perfectly normal, I might say) expectations such as product availability, convenient pricing and delivery, the consumer journey. In a lasting and deeper framework, these expectations can keep a customer close to a brand.


A recent research study by Linnworks identified some significant ecommerce trends that help drive online consumer behavior. According to Linnworks’ study, 76% of consumers value convenience as one of their top priorities. The fewer things consumers have to fill out, the more convenient they find their overall customer purchase journey (and the more likely they are to return). We can be guided by the premise simply and quickly, right?

More than that, 81% of online shoppers seek a seamless transfer between devices throughout a buying journey. Concretely, consumers want to start the buying process during the lunch break from work on the desktop and they want to finish it in the evening in bed on the smartphone, right where they left off. If I had said this 20 years ago, I probably would have been considered a bit crazy.

With access to multiple technology options, consumers are engaged in an ‘always-on’ shopping experience. They expect to shop online while scrolling through social media, so their favorite brands should be present where they spend most of their time, or simply put, everywhere. This maximizes convenience by ensuring they never have to leave their favorite and trusted platforms during the buying process.


Consumers seek convenience throughout the entire buying journey. They are looking for places where the payment process is simple, but offers multiple options, so that it does not complicate their work. The simplicity of payment options drives 89% of consumers to make purchasing decisions more quickly.

Now, if we have clarified the expectations that consumers have when they want to make a purchase, we can turn our attention to the types of buyer behavior. According to Assael (1987), there are four types of consumption behavior of people when they make a purchase (Figure 1).


Complex buying behavior is encountered particularly when consumers are buying an expensive product. In this transaction, consumers are highly involved in the purchase decision. It is important to create an advertising message in a way that influences the buyer’s beliefs and attitudes. They have a staged learning process, because they first develop beliefs about the product, then attitudes, and then they will make a careful purchase choice. Also, they ask for the opinions of specialists or consult with those close to them, family or friends.

Figure 1


In dissonance-reducing buying behavior, consumer involvement is very high. In addition, there is low availability of choices with fewer significant differences among brands. In this type, a consumer buys a product that is easily available. Based on the products available, time limitations, or budget limitations, consumers buy certain products without a lot of research. In this case, the marketing campaigns should focus on building repeat purchases and referrals by offering discounts and incentives.

Habitual buying behavior is depicted when a consumer has low involvement in a purchase decision. In this case, the consumer is perceiving only a few significant differences between brands. This category usually includes household products and products that are bought frequently. They either buy their favorite brand or the one that they use regularly – or the one available in the store or the one that costs the least. Further to initiate product trial, marketers should use tactics like price drop promotions and sales promotions.

In variety-seeking consumer behavior, consumer involvement is low. There are significant differences between brands. The cost of switching products is low, and hence consumers might want to try out new products just out of curiosity or boredom. Consumers here, generally buy different products not because of dissatisfaction but mainly with an urge to seek variety. Brands have to adopt different strategies for such types of consumer behavior.


The race to capture the consumer's attention is faster than ever. After all, that's what it's all about today, how quickly and easily brands manage to capture people's attention and how they get them to buy their product. The multitude of options they have make the race sometimes very exciting and full of challenges.


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