Howard Sheth Model of Consumer Behavior

The Howard Sheth Model of Consumer Behavior was put forward by John Howard and Jagadish Sheth in the year 1969.

The model is an integrated form of factors like social, psychological, cultural influences on consumer choices into a coherent sequence. It focuses on explaining consumer behavior in terms of cognitive functioning and observed testable depiction of such behavior and its outcomes.

The idea of the Howard Sheth model of consumer behavior goes like: The inputs are in the form of Stimuli. The outputs are reaction with attention to a given stimulus and ending with purchase. In between the inputs and the outputs, there are variables affecting perception and learning. These variables are termed ‘hypothetical’ since they cannot be directly measured at the time of occurrence.

The model defines decision making in three levels:

  • Extensive problem solving: This is the stage in which consumer doesn’t have any preferences about the products and seeks information about all the brand options available in the market.
  • Limited problem solving: This is the stage where the consumers know what they want to purchase and also have partial knowledge about the market.
  • Habitual response behavior: In this stage, the consumer has a definite choice about the brands and products and he decides by looking in at the characteristics of each product in the market.

The variables in the Howard Sheth Model are:

  • Inputs: The input variables consist of three distinct types of information sources in the buyer’s environment. The marketer in the form of product or brand information furnishes physical brand characteristics (significative stimuli) and verbal or visual product characteristics (symbolic stimuli).

These are delivered to the consumer in the form of impersonal sources like mass media communications and advertising. The companies have no control over these. The third type is provided by the consumer’s social environment (family, reference group, and social class).

This social source is personal and again the marketer has no control over this source. All three types of stimuli provide inputs concerning the product class or specific brands to the specific consumer.


  • Perpetual and learning constructs: The model’s central part deals with the psychological variables involved when the consumer is in the process of making a decision. Some of the influencing factors are perceptual in nature and are linked with how the consumer receives and understands the information from the various aspects of the model.
  • Outputs: The outputs are basically the reactions of the consumers depending on how they react to the perceptual and learning variables.
  • Exogenous variables: These are the external factors affecting consumer buying behavior and are directly not a part of the model. However, sometimes these factors are of great importance and include factors like consumer personality traits, religion, and time pressure.


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