Discover your shopping & decision-making style

Amongst all the activities one of the prevalent activities of all is acquiring objects or things of different nature. The most commonly known action of acquiring things is called shopping. We all shop either for everyday consumable goods (Groceries) or for long-term hoarding products (smartphone or exotic paintings). For me, shopping can sometimes act as a therapy and other times a menace! As a therapy when I walk into a bookstore and a menace when I have to pick a gift hence, making shopping a two-faced phenomenon. Spending power is an important factor that influences the frequency, platform, and involvement of a shopper. Additionally, we shop to satisfy our emotional, social, and status requirements hence, to apparent psychological desires than a physical appetite.

Ancient Indians understood different yearnings and accordingly worshipped the Gods or Goddesses assigned to be different providers. Goddess Parvati or Kali (Goddess of Prakriti/ Nature) was worshipped to answer appetite for food, crops, and nature-related prosperities. Goddess Saraswati (Goddess of Knowledge) was worshipped to quench the curious thirst to grow mentally, psychologically and self. Goddess Lakshmi (Goddess of Wealth) was worshipped to manifest monetary benefits, status, and social standards. One's style of acquiring product/services can be distinctly consistent or vary based on numerous dependable factors such as shopping being solo or group activity, circumstantial needs/wants, location, information/knowledge base, and acquiring gratification.

 How shopping makes one feel before and after depends on the kind of shopper you are and your decision-making style.

A shopper can exercise one or more shopping-style based on external & internal factors. In our quotidian engagement, we shop insurance, jobs, houses, clothes, entertainment, and everything under the sun. The marketers and brands take pride in providing their customers with endless choices. Each category of shopping has multiple factors to consider before the purchase. when shopping for a job one looks at the organization, salary, allowances, insurance, maternity/paternity benefits, work culture, and location. While we shop for universities, movies, tangible products, intangible products (e.g. mobile applications), and even a life partner; imagine the amount of data that is cognitively filtered on an everyday basis. The available choices can be overbearing. To discover individual shopping & decision-making style, let's begin with identifying some of the shopping-styles both online & offline.

1. Focused Shopper (target driven): They are also known as a target or determined shoppers. Shoppers in this category have a definite list of activities or merchandises in their mind. They have a more goal-oriented approach than leisure approach. Indulging in a purchase is more of a necessity. They may or may not have a budget but time is of utmost impotence to target shoppers. Marketers & Salesmen have to go an extra mile in acquiring focused shoppers.

2. Impulsive shopper (emotionally driven): Most of their shopping patterns are driven by their whims and moods. Budgeting is overlooked by an impulsive shopper. They appreciate indulging in multiple choices and leisure shopping. There need not be any significant planning or purchasing list. However, it is important to note that post-shopping satisfaction is at its minimum amongst impulsive shoppers. Marketers use visually vivid content to attract these customers and attempt to provide better post-purchase services to improve post-shopping satisfaction & increase retention.

3. Window shopper (alternative driven): Who has not been a window shopper in the era of shopping malls and endless browsing?Window shoppers may not make a purchase yet it is important to engage them. Window shoppers are potential future purchasers or return customer. Additionally, the information they have gathered by scrutinizing and skimming multiple choice among multiple range of product or services will translate to effective word of mouth.

4. Loyal shopper (brand driven): They are the dream customers of all brand and service providers, but loyal shoppers need to be earned. Loyalty cards and other consistent purchase benefits are just a fraction of activities to build customer loyalty. A well-integrated brand of multiple facets functioning as CRM, CSR, pre and post-purchase services and the organizational behavior, overall, attracts loyal shoppers.

5. Bargain shopper (Price driven): Bargain shoppers don't necessarily seek for cheap solutions. They are highly budgeting and are on a constant look for discounts and offers. High priced seasonal products do not interest them, on the contrary, the satisfaction of after purchase savings thrills the customers. Hence, brands like Amazon specify the amount saved before and after a purchase.

A shopper can exercise one or more shopping-style based on external & internal factors

Shopping is an inevitable activity with increasing pressure to make quick & reliable decisions. One's decision-making style influences their personality and actions. Despite the shopping platform or medium, a person's decision-making style leverage's their indulgence during, before, & after shopping. The cognitive effort of filtering the options based on multiple factors such as price, quantity, quality, brand, and much more can be exhausting. Brainpower involvement has to be of minimum effort (Focused or impulsive buyers) or no extra effort (Loyal customers) to enjoy the purchase process. This can be achieved by minimizing the choices, creating user-friendly shopping environment, and building brand familiarity.

There are multiple theories, research, and explanation towards individuals' decision-making style. The most simple and relative categorization of decision-making style according to Barry Schwartz are maximizer-style or satisficer-style in one's decision-making process. Maximizing style or satisficing style of decision-making is a matter of how an individual differs in sorting choices. In the book 'Paradox of choice', Schwartz states six factors distinguishing maximizers from satisficers.

1. Maximizers engage more in product or service comparison, both before and after the purchase than satisficers.
2. Maximizers take longer to make a decision than satisficers.
3. Maximizers spend more time comparing the alternatives and available options than satisficers.
4. Maximizers are more likely to experience regret after making an end decision or purchase.
5. Maximizers are more inclined towards making hypothetical alternatives to the decision or purchase they have made, than satisficers.
6. Maximizers are more likely to feel less positive about their purchase decision.

Discover your decision-making style!!!

Below are some self-reported questions to determine your decision-making style. Write a number to each of these questions on the scale of 5, where 1 being 'strongly disagree' and 5 being 'strongly agree'.

1. When I am in the car listening to the radio, I often check other stations to see if something better is playing, even if I am relatively satisfied with what I'm listening to.
2. No matter how satisfied I am with my job, it's only right for me to be on the lookout for better opportunities.
3. I often find it difficult to shop for a gift for a friend
4. Renting videos or choosing films to watch is really difficult. I'm always
struggling to pick the best one
5. No matter what I do, I have the highest standards for myself
6. I never settle for second best.

Now sum total the six numbers, the total score can range from low of 6 to high of 30. If your score is 18 or higher you exhibit maximizer-style of decision-making. If your score is 17 or less you exhibit satisficer-style of decision-making. However, it is important to note that though, maximizer and satisficer are treated as two elements; if measurable in a low to high scale it can be rightfully said that people differ to the extent to which they are maximizers.

One's decision-making style influences their personality and actions

When I was first given the responsibility to purchase daily necessities & consumable goods, the process excited me to explore the infinite choices. Suddenly to purchase everyday necessities & consumable products/services was a mundane job. I felt ransacked of my precious time & effort. Consequently, I turned towards online providers to fetch my groceries, toiletries, health products, and much more. The impression that I was saving my time by purchasing online or through a third part was merely a delusion! I spent more time, in fact, days filling up my carts. Coping-up to the offers became an obsession and asking myself if there was anything slipping off my mind constantly engaged my day. Enslaved by endless scrolling plus witnessing the loss of instant gratification was dissatisfactory. Eventually, it dawned on me that irrespective of a situation or a platform I prefer to maximize my choices and alternatives hence, making me a maximizer.

Many researchers and psychologist seek to defiantly understand what type of decision maker (maximizer or satisficer) is joyful? According to Barry Schwartz, Dalia L. Diab, Catherine D. Rawn and other researchers, an exhaustible list of choices and aiming to seek the best alternative (a maximizer tendency) leads to lower mental well-being and higher disappointment. However, the same researchers state that a people differ in the extent to which they are maximizers. Hence, on some level, all decision-makers are maximizers as we all prefer to have alternatives and seek our deserving best.

Since shopping is a series of decision-making process we can see the acceleration in available choices

Infinite alternatives might not lead to any ultimate decision but justified comparisons, alternatives, and choices will uplift customer satisfaction plus retention. When oats were first introduced into Indian market it was available with a minimum western style of choices (plain oats, honey oats etc.) hence, was not well received in India. The brand 'Saffola' understood the history of Indian cuisine and launched masala oats and other Indian flavored oats. Additionally, they understood that oats was a new addition to Indian kitchen and started sharing innovative oat recipes that fit the audience. Therefore, pursuing a moderate choice list is obligatory as choices are an evolved necessity. Happy shopping, sorting, and browsing to both maximizers and satisficers!







CRM - Customer Relationship Management

CSR - Corporate Social Responsibility

Dar-nimrod, I. et al., 2009. The Maximization Paradox : The costs of seeking alternatives. Personality and Individual Differences, 46(5–6), pp.631–635. Available at:

Diab, D.L., Gillespie, M.A. & Highhouse, S., 2008. Are maximizers really unhappy ? The measurement of maximizing tendency. Judgment and Decision Making, 3(5), pp.364–370.

Parker, A.M., Bruin, W.B. De & Fischhoff, B., 2007. Maximizers versus satisficers : Decision-making styles, competence, and outcomes. Judgment and Decision Making, 2(6), pp.342–350.

Schwartz, B. et al., 2002. Maximizing versus satisficing: happiness is a matter of choice. Journal of personality and social psychology, 83(5), pp.1178–1197.

Schwartz, B., 2004. The Paradox of Choice: why less is more, New York.

All Answers Ltd. November 2017. Types Of Shoppers. [online]. Available from: [Accessed 26 March 2018].

Ness, J. (2018). 8 Different Shopper Types And How To Market To Them. [online] Ecwid | E-Commerce Shopping Cart. Available at: [Accessed 26 Mar. 2018].

Pattanaik, D. (2013). Business Sutra. New Delhi: Aleph Book Company, pp.83-87.




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11 thoughts on “Discover your shopping & decision-making style

  1. Jai says:

    Good read. Few more points could have been added or can be categorize all the things we shop and can we see some trends on factors which influences shopping behavior

  2. Prayag says:

    Enjoyed the read.. Throwing some light on the satisficer persona could help. Would be great if you could write a piece, or include in this, on how shopping evolved from barter system, the emotion involved then, to the current system, with the habits of a maximiser.

  3. Priyanka Katta says:

    Hello Ruby,
    Enjoyed the read. You have articulated, making a very simple activity into a profound one, fabulously. It’s a food for thought to us and something to ponder over. Thanks for sharing.

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