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Understanding the Howard-Sheth Model of Consumer Behavior

The Howard-Sheth Model, an insightful contribution to the field of marketing by John Howard and Jagdish Sheth in 1969, serves as a robust theoretical framework for understanding the multifaceted consumer decision-making process. 


The model encapsulates four major sets of variables that interact and influence consumer behavior:

INPUT VARIABLES: Input variables encapsulate the stimuli consumers encounter, which are further divided into significant stimuli (attributes of the product), symbolic stimuli (related to lifestyle, status, etc.), and social stimuli (emanating from family, friends, or social class).

PERCEPTUAL AND LEARNING CONSTRUCTS: This subset includes perceptual ambiguity (doubts about product information), perceptual bias (construing information based on pre-existing beliefs), and brand comprehension (consumer’s understanding of the brand).

OUTPUT VARIABLES: Output variables represent the outcomes of consumer interactions with stimuli and learning constructs. They include responses like brand comprehension, attention, attitude, intention, and purchase behavior.

EXOGENOUS VARIABLES: Exogenous variables are individual-centric factors such as personality traits, significance of the purchase decision, available resources, etc., which impact all other variables in the model.


The Howard-Sheth model holds practical implications for marketers:

FORMULATING MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS: Understanding the input variables and their influence on consumer perception allows marketers to create advertisements and promotional messages that resonate with their target demographics.

SEGMENTING AND TARGETING CONSUMERS: The model’s components help pinpoint consumer characteristics, enabling businesses to segment their audience effectively and devise tailor-made marketing strategies for each group.

GUIDING PRODUCT DEVELOPMENT AND POSITIONING: By shedding light on the significant stimuli affecting consumers, the model assists businesses in developing products that align with their consumer’s preferences.

ENHANCING CONSUMER RELATIONSHIP MANAGEMENT (CRM): The emphasis on learning constructs suggests that consumer behavior can be progressively influenced. This insight enhances CRM by enabling businesses to foster stronger customer relationships, leading to improved customer loyalty and retention.

CONCLUDING THOUGHTS: The Howard-Sheth model offers a comprehensive lens to understand and influence consumer behavior, thereby aiding marketers in crafting effective strategies.


1. Significant stimuli: Attributes of the product that consumers consider.

2. Symbolic stimuli: Aspects related to lifestyle, social status, etc.

3. Social stimuli: Influences from family, friends, or social class.

4. Perceptual ambiguity: Doubts or uncertainties about product information.

5. Perceptual bias: Interpreting information based on pre-existing beliefs.

6. Exogenous variables: Individual characteristics affecting other variables in the model.

7. Segmenting: Dividing a market into distinct groups of buyers.

8. Consumer Relationship Management (CRM): Practices for managing a company’s interactions with customers.


Wiki Hyphen Website | Consumer Behavior

J, A. (2019, August 15). Howard Sheth Model. The Investor’s Book. 

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