Gord Hotchkiss came up with a matrix to help explain the process consumers follow when they make purchases, which marketers have spent the last century trying to understand.
How Does Hotchkiss’s Model Work?
The model considers all the factors that consumers take into consideration when they choose to buy a particular product. These factors include:
Marketers using this model need to decide how important these factors are to their customers and assign a numerical weight to each of them. This model can theoretically help marketers predict whether a consumer will buy their product or those of a competitor based on how well it ranks on any of these factors.
Is this Model Effective?
Hotchkiss’s model seems to make sense from an intuitive standpoint. However, there are several limitations of this model that you need to take into consideration.
Consumer Groups Aren’t Homogenous
The model assumes that all of your target customers are going to have the same priorities. This is a flawed assumption. Subgroups will often make their buying decisions on different criteria. Hotchkiss’s model won’t help you effectively predict the buying decisions of all customers you are marketing to.
The model becomes more unreliable when you are marketing to a broader consumer base. This is a common problem for companies that sell generic products (such as candy bars). Women in their 20s tend to want to purchase candy bars that are lower in calories, while 10 year olds will be more interested in a candy bar that tastes good and place more emphasis on price.
Consumers Are Often Irrational
Hotchkiss assumed that consumers were rational decision makers when he proposed his theory. However, more recent research has shown that consumers aren’t very rational decision makers at all. In fact, many of them don’t know why they choose to buy one product over a comparable product from a competitor. The Yale School of Management has recently proposed new guidelines to help marketers reach their customers, because they have come to realize that they aren’t rational decision makers.
This research doesn’t surprise many marketers. Many companies have long ignored perceived expectations of customer buying decisions and simply focused on changing their buying decisions. New research supports this practice and claims that marketers should focus on changing the perspective and convincing them to buy a particular product.
The interests and priorities of a group of customers can change over time. You will need to be able to follow customer trends and incorporate them into your marketing strategy. Your sales will suffer if you try to market to customers based on assumptions about their priorities based on previous data.
Hotchkiss’s Model May Not Work
I first learned about the Hotchkiss decision making matrix in my Masters of Business Administration program at Clark University. My professor said at that time that the matrix had lost most of its popularity because it hadn’t been proven to be very effective. I personally believe you should use a marketing model that realizes customers are irrational and have different decision making preferences.
About the Author: Kalen is a business writer who talks about consumer psychology graduate programs and similar topics for people who want to take the next step towards achieving a more fulfilling career in marketing.
Last Updated (23 December 2012)
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