The elimination by aspects model is a decision-making theory where the process of elimination influences purchasing choices.
These decision heuristics are commonly used in purchasing decisions as a way of reducing information overload. However, this means that the resulting decision is often less than optimal.
E-commerce is a major contributor to sub-optimal decisions, where consumers are exposed to large marketplaces with similarly large product ranges. With so many product alternatives available, making the right decision becomes substantially harder.
An example of the elimination by aspects model
To understand how the elimination by aspects model works, consider it as a process.
- First, a consumer browses a list of products with one attribute they deem essential. In the EBA model, attributes are simply product features. Products that do not contain this essential feature are excluded as potential purchases. A consumer looking to purchase a new car, for example, may deem that safety is the most important feature – thereby excluding any manufacturer except Volvo.
- With the shortened list of potential purchases, the consumer repeats the first step but with a different attribute. For example, the consumer may then search Volvo’s entire range for a car capable of accommodating four children.
- At this point, the range of potential cars has been shortened further. But the consumer also desires a safe, family-sized Volvo that has excellent fuel economy.
- Although many consumers may stop after three or four essential attributes, many others will continue until a single, “best fit” product remains
Ultimately, each product in the EBA model is judged based on its assortment or combination of product features. There is less emphasis on the product as a whole, provided that the product has the essential features a consumer desires.
Potential downsides to the elimination by aspects model
The elimination by aspects model is based on heuristic decision making as a means of bypassing information overload. As a result, the product a consumer eventually decides to purchase will be satisfactory – but not optimal.
This is because the model is non-compensatory, meaning that highly desirable attributes cannot compensate for less than desirable attributes. In the case of a new Volvo, cars were excluded in the third step based on fuel economy. However, a car slightly less economical on fuel may have delivered other benefits in reliability, servicing cost, and warranty. That is, benefits that would have compensated for the slight reduction in fuel economy.
- The elimination by aspects model is a mental shortcut that consumers use to make purchasing decisions when a large range of products are present.
- In the elimination by aspects model, a consumer progressively shortens a list of potential products according to whether they contain the right combination of desired features.
- The elimination by aspects model gives a satisfactory but non-optimal result. This is because the model does not make allowances for a desirable attribute being able to compensate for a non-desired attribute.