Elimination By Aspects Model In A Nutshell

The elimination by aspects model is a decision-making theory where the process of elimination influences purchasing choices.

The elimination by aspects (EBA) model is based on a mental shortcut – or heuristic – that consumers use to decide on a product or service to purchase.

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

Key takeaways

  • 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.

Connected Frameworks

First-principles thinking – sometimes called reasoning from first principles – is used to reverse-engineer complex problems and encourage creativity. It involves breaking down problems into basic elements and reassembling them from the ground up. Elon Musk is among the strongest proponents of this way of thinking.
The ladder of inference is a conscious or subconscious thinking process where an individual moves from a fact to a decision or action. The ladder of inference was created by academic Chris Argyris to illustrate how people form and then use mental models to make decisions.
The Six Thinking Hats model was created by psychologist Edward de Bono in 1986, who noted that personality type was a key driver of how people approached problem-solving. For example, optimists view situations differently from pessimists. Analytical individuals may generate ideas that a more emotional person would not, and vice versa.
Second-order thinking is a means of assessing the implications of our decisions by considering future consequences. Second-order thinking is a mental model that considers all future possibilities. It encourages individuals to think outside of the box so that they can prepare for every and eventuality. It also discourages the tendency for individuals to default to the most obvious choice.
Lateral thinking is a business strategy that involves approaching a problem from a different direction. The strategy attempts to remove traditionally formulaic and routine approaches to problem-solving by advocating creative thinking, therefore finding unconventional ways to solve a known problem. This sort of non-linear approach to problem-solving, can at times, create a big impact.
Moonshot thinking is an approach to innovation, and it can be applied to business or any other discipline where you target at least 10X goals. That shifts the mindset, and it empowers a team of people to look for unconventional solutions, thus starting from first principles, by leveraging on fast-paced experimentation.
Tim Brown, Executive Chair of IDEO, defined design thinking as “a human-centered approach to innovation that draws from the designer’s toolkit to integrate the needs of people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.” Therefore, desirability, feasibility, and viability are balanced to solve critical problems.
The CATWOE analysis is a problem-solving strategy that asks businesses to look at an issue from six different perspectives. The CATWOE analysis is an in-depth and holistic approach to problem-solving because it enables businesses to consider all perspectives. This often forces management out of habitual ways of thinking that would otherwise hinder growth and profitability. Most importantly, the CATWOE analysis allows businesses to combine multiple perspectives into a single, unifying solution.

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