Exploring the link between intention and behavior in consumer research

Author:Madalina Balau
European Integration - Realities and Perspectives. Proceedings 2018
Exploring the Link between Intention
and Behavior in Consumer Research
Mădălina Bălău1
Abstract: In the attempts to predict or influence a change in consumer behavior, intention represents one
important element and it is considered a close proxy to the behavior itself. However, t here are several
perspectives on the role of intention on subsequent behavior; the objective of this article is to review several
perspectives on this role, starting from models frequently used in consumer research and enriching the
perspectives by discussing the influence of implementation intention and the effect of intent measurement on
product and brand actual buying behavior. The main findings are that intention is most frequently used in
research as a stable concept in t he mind of the consumers quite easy to measure, yet other perspectives
suggest that intention could easily change according to the context or even under the influence of the
measurement process. These competing perspectives need further exploration since the gap between behavior
predicted on intentions and actual behavior is still important. The current article contributes to the literature
on the conceptualization and measurement of intention and its main implications consist of insights for using
the concept of intention in marketing and consumer research aimed at predicting or changing behavior.
Keywords: intention-behavior link; consumer behavior; theory of planned behavior; implementation
JEL Classification: M30; M31; M39
1. Introduction
Explaining consumer behavior is a first step to being able to predict it or change it For most types of
interventions, whether we speak of marketing activity aimed at influencing consumers to buy new
products or services, or of changing certain kinds of social behaviors, like reducing aggressive
behavior of children in schools, the actors involved would like to know what determinants have most
impact as to leverage them. Today most behaviors also involve consumption behaviors, understood as
buying, using and also disposing off products. Some researchers link behavior to general attitudes of
personality traits of individuals, yet these factors only influence behavior indirectly. (Ajzen &
Fishbeing, 1980) Factors closer to the context and the behavior itself were considered to be better
proxies for explaining and predicting it, such is the case for the construct of intention.
The information about consumers’ intentions is often used by companies in predicting their future
marketing actions. In launching new products, firms frequently base their decisions on measured
purchase intentions. However, it was observed by various researchers (Auger & Devinney, 2007;
Carrington, Neville & Whitwell, 2010) that certain kinds of intentions seldom lead to the actual
enacting of the behavior: it is the situation of purchasing ethical products or of practicing health
promoting behaviors, such as reducing the sugar intake, exercising, eating fresh and seasonal food.
1 Senior Lecturer, PhD, DiSEDD Resear ch Cent er, Danubius University of Galati, Romania. Address: 3 Galati Blvd. , 800654
Galati, Romania. Tel.: +40.733.180.384, Corresponding author: madalina.balau@univ-danubius.ro.

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