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Hermens, HGJ 2013, 'Understanding home improvement consumers’ purchasing strategies: an examination of consumers’ consideration sets', DBA thesis, Southern Cross University, Lismore, NSW.

Copyright HGJ Hermens 2013


Do-it-yourself (DIY) home improvement in Australia is a common endeavour. DIY home-improvers often need to make products and/or service purchases for tasks in which they have little or no prior experience. In making these purchases they need to deal with the perceived risk, to their home implicit in such decisions. DIY consumers have been found to respond to this perceived risk, which is their subjective belief about the characteristics and severity of a risk to their home, by applying consideration sets. A consideration set is a cognitive reduction strategy that reduces the size of these available options in making retail, product or service decisions by reducing them to a more manageable number. Little research has been devoted to understanding the order in which the consideration of products and/or services and the retailers occurs in this reduction process.

The basic sequences consumers can apply in constructing a consideration set are: retail store first, product brand second or product brand first, retail store second. The first sequence implies a retailer preference and the second suggests a product preference.

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the order of the consumer’s consideration set formation. A qualitative research design, ex-post facto, was employed, exploiting a grounded methodology in three focus group interviews and the Delphi method in two expert panels used to review the data obtained from the focus groups to provide more robustness to the conclusions.

The study focused on the participants’ main concerns in their decision-making, and how they tried to resolve them. This study suggests that decision risk was reduced by the home-improvement consumers forming consideration sets populated in part or in whole by retailer brands as an experiential short-cut. The data demonstrates that trust, perceived risk, involvement and brand are the antecedents’ to this formation. Brands are seen by the home improvement consumer as a bundle of attributes with the ability to deliver problem solving benefits. Brand loyalty is the proxy in the decision process. The use of this proxy as a heuristic reduced the perceived risk of the home improvement consumers. This enables the customer, at least in part, to sidestep the final decision about which product or service to purchase by choosing from amongst the options presented by the retailer.

Retailer preference arises from a desire to reduce the risk inherent in the purchase decision driven by the potential negative impact on the home-improver’s primary asset, their home, not by risk in a general sense or the probability of a negative outcome. The existence of retailer preference means that retailers can exercise greater control over the consumer exchange relationship by selecting the products and or services to offer their customers, with manufacturers needing to ensure their branding activities are targeted at their preferred customers, whilst also maintaining and enhancing alignment with retailers.