MARKETING NOTES AND COMMUNICATIONS
Why Do People Shop?
Do people shop simply to make purchases? considerations that are unrelated to an actual purchase? other than his or her need for products or services.
EDWARD M. TAUBER
Are some shopping trips motivated by The results of an explora-
tory study of shopper motivation suggest that a person may shop for many reasons
'T'HE field of consumer behavior has experi-•- enced a dynamic period of growth over the past 10 years. It is frequently overlooked, however, that this broad area consists of three distinct activities: shopping, buying, and consuming. Considerable progress has been achieved in identifying the behavioral dimensions of buying, and a number of theories of buying behavior have been postulated. However, less is known about the determinants of consuming and shopping which are also of substantial theoretical and managerial importance. This article attempts to encourage behavioral research and theory building concerning shopping behavior by presenting some exploratory research findings on the question of why do people shop? Numerous writings have been directed to this question. For example, researchers have suggested that shopping is a function of the nature of the product,' the degree of perceived risk inherent in the product class,^ and the level of knowledge or amount of information about alternatives.'' All of these answers are directed at the question, "Why do people shop in more than one store?" (comparison shopping). Other authors have maintained that shopping is a function of location. 1. Richard H. Holton. "The Distinction Between Convenience Goods, Shopping Goods and Specialty Goods," JOURNAL OF MARKETING, Vol. 22 (Julv, 1958), p. 56. 2. Donald F. Cox, ed.. Risk Taking and Information Handling in Consumer Behavior (Boston: Graduate School of Business Administration, Harvard University, 1967). 3. John A. Howard and Jagdish N. Sheth, The Theory of Buyer Behavior (New York: John Wiley and Sons, 1969), pp. 286-295; and Louis P. Bucklin, "Testing Propensities to Shop," JOURNAL OF MARKETING, Vol. 30 (January, 1966), pp. 22-27. Journat ot Marketing. Vol. 36 (October, 1972), pp. 46-59.
product assortment, and store image.'* Again, these are variables which help explain, "Why do people shop where they do?" (store patronage). The question considered in this article is, "Why do people shop?" (i.e., go to a store in the first place). The most obvious answer, "because they need to purchase something," can be a most deceptive one and reflects a marketing myopia which management has been cautioned to avoid— a product orientation. This answer considers only the products which people may purchase and is but a partial and insufficient basis for behavioral explanations. It implicitly assumes that the shopping motive is a simple function of the buying motive. This article hypothesizes that peoples' motives for shopping are a function of many variables, some of which are unrelated to the actual buying of products. It is maintained that an understanding of shopping motives requires the consideration of satisfactions which shopping activities provide, as well as the utility obtained from the merchandise that may be purchased. If needs other than those associated with particular products motivate people to go to a store, the retailer should incorporate this information into his marketing strategy. Methodology
An exploratory study was undertaken to determine some reasons why people shop. Individual in-depth interviews were conducted in the Los Angeles area with a convenience sample of 30 people, divided evenly between men and women. Ages of respondents ranged from 20 to 47. Rather than a direct approach in questioning subjects as to why they shop, respondents were asked to recall their most recent shopping trips (of any 4. Louis P. Bucklin, "The Concept of Mass in Intraurban Shopping," JOURNAL OF MARKETING. Vol. 31 (October, 1%7), pp. 37-42.
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