There are three categories of consumers purchasing decisions. They are: routine response behavior, limited decision-making and extensive decision-making (Charles et al., 2011, p.197). The type of a purchase decision taken by a consumer depends on the length of time taken to make the purchase decision, level of consumer involvement, time taken in search of information, the number of alternatives considered and the cost of goods or services to be purchased. The level of consumer involvement is the most important factor in determining the type of purchase decision made by a consumer. Level of consumer involvement is the amount of time and effort take by a consumer in search and evaluation of a given good or service (Charles et al., 2011, p.197).
The type of consumer buying decision that can be identified in Ethel’s Chocolate Lounges is routine response behavior. Routine response behavior is a type of consumer buying decision, which is followed in purchase of frequently purchased and relatively cheap goods and services. Chocolate consumers who purchase chocolate from Ethel’s Chocolate Lounges are the regular consumers of chocolate based in the upscale boutiques and those from the middle class. This is because in the case study it has been stated that one does not need to be a millionaire in order to enjoy a sweet chocolate from Ethel’s Chocolate Lounges (Charles et al., 2011, p.228). This implies that both the upper and the middle class (middle income and high-income earners) can afford to purchase a bar of chocolate from Ethel’s Lounges. However, in the case study it has been indicated that prices of chocolate at Ethel’s Chocolate Lounges are not for everyone’s wallet. This implies that low income-earners may not afford to purchase chocolate from the lounges. Based on the two observations, one can safely conclude that the types of consumers who make purchases at Ethel’s Chocolate Lounges are middle and upper class people.
In addition, the decision that the type of consumer buying decision that best describes the choice to indulge at Ethel’s is routine response behavior has been arrived at based on the fact that just like coffee lovers, chocolate lovers make frequent purchases of chocolate without spending much time in searching for information about chocolate. For instance, an individual who purchases a chocolate bar from Ethel’s for the first time and finds that it satisfies his/her taste and preference will tend to make frequent purchases of chocolate from the same place without paying much attention to the purchase decision. This indicates that the level of consumer involvement in purchase of Ethel’s chocolates is low, thus routine response behavior.
Apparently, one of the factors that influence customers to spend time and money at Ethel’s is the exotic design of Ethel’s Lounges. From the case study, it has been mentioned, “Ethel’s Lounges are designed to coddle patrons in the lap of luxury” (Charles et al., 2011, p.228). Besides, it has been mentioned that the couches at the lounges are generously stuffed and have a finishing, which gives them a combination of a modern and traditional look. These features give the customers an exciting shopping experience as well as a place to comfortably chart and socialize with one another while enjoying their chocolates. This implies that the interior finishing of the lounges is very exotic, a feature, which is associated with attraction of customers.
According Ethel’s president, John Hague, approachability is another reason that influences customers to stay and spend money at Ethel’s Lounge. The menus at Ethel’s feature icons and descriptions of the chocolates’ contents so that the customers can understand what they are purchasing and consuming. Hague also adds, “A multitude of hot and cold beverages gives visitors more reasons to extend their stays at Ethel’s” (Charles et al., 2011, p.228).
In my opinion, the factor which motivates more customers to spend time and money at Ethel’s, is the exotic interior design and the classy appearance of its lounges. This is because, as earlier mentioned, the types of consumers who are likely to shop at Ethel’s Chocolate Lounges are the middle and upper class people. These groups of people are associated with a tendency of shopping in places, which describe their lifestyles. Therefore, when making purchase decisions, they do not take into account the shopping incentives such as after sales services or gifts. What they consider most is the social status of the shopping place. Therefore, the exterior design of Ethel’s Chocolate Lounges is likely to motivate the consumers to spend time and money in the Lounges as compared to other factors.
Based on the types of consumers who are likely to shop at Ethel’s Chocolate Lounges, one of the needs that Ethel’s experience is likely to appeal to most consumers is the need of comfort/luxury. This is because chocolate is associated with luxury, a thing which was pioneered in London back in the 17th century where members of society’s elite would gather in luxurious surroundings to relax and enjoy hot chocolate (Charles et al., 2011, p.228). This is an inclination, which has continued over the years up to today. All chocolate lovers are associated with comfort and luxury. Another need that Ethel’s experience is likely to appeal to many consumers is the need to socialize. Just like coffee lovers who are known to have a tendency of undertaking a lot of socialization with their peers over a cup of coffee at luxurious coffee houses, well-heeled chocolate lovers also have a tendency to do the same. Therefore, by providing an exotic place where these people can meet and enjoy chocolate while socializing with their peers is likely to appeal to many of its customers as well.