Consumer behavior is an attempt to understand & predict human actions in the buying role. It has assumed growing importance under market-oriented or customer oriented marketing planning & management.
Consumer behavior is defined as “all psychological, social & physical behavior of potential customers as they become aware of, evaluate, purchase, consume, & tell others about product & services”. Each element in this definition is important.
- Consumer behavior involves both individual (psychological) processes & group (social processes).
- Consumer behavior is reflected from awareness right through post-purchase evaluation indicating satisfaction or non-satisfaction, from purchases
- Consumer behavior includes communication, purchasing & consumption behavior
- Consumer behavior is basically social in nature. Hence social environment plays an important role in shaping buyer behavior.
- Consumer behavior includes both consumer & business buyer behavior
In consumer behavior we consider not only why, how, & what people buy but other factors such as where , how often, and under what conditions the purchase is made. An understanding of the buyer behavior is essential in marketing planning & programmes. In the final analysis buyer behavior is one of the most important keys to successful marketing.
Factors Affecting Consumer Behavior
Cultural factors exert the broadest and deepest influence on consumer behavior. The roles played by the buyers culture, sub culture and social class are particularly important.
- CULTURE- Culture is the most fundamental determinant of a person’s wants and behavior. The growing child acquires a set of values, perceptions, preferences, and behavior through his or hr family or other key institutions.
- SUB-CULTURE- Sub-culture includes nationalities, religions, racial groups, and geographical regions. Many sub-cultures make up important market segments, and marketers often design marketing programs tailored to their needs.
- SOCIAL CLASS- Social classes are relatively homogeneous and enduring divisions in a society, which are hierarchically ordered and whose members share similar values, interests, and behavior. Social classes do not reflect income alone but also other indicators such as occupation, education, and area of residence.
- REFERENCE GROUPS- A Person’s reference groups consist of all the groups that have a direct or indirect influence on the person’s attitudes or behavior. Groups having direct influence on a person are called membership groups.
- FAMILY- The family is the most important consumer buying organization in society, and has been researched extensively. Family members constitute the most influential primary reference group.
- ROLE AND STATUSES- A person’s position in each group that he participates throughout his life –family, clubs, and organizations can be defined in terms of role and status. A role consist of activities that a person is expected to perform. Each role carries a status. Marketers are aware of the status symbol potential of products and brands.
A buyer’s decisions are also influenced by personal characteristics. These include the buyer’s age & stage in the life cycle, occupation, economic circumstances, lifestyle, personality & self concept.
- AGE & STAGE IN THE LIFE CYCLE- People buy different goods & services over their lifetime. They eat baby food in the early years, most foods in the growing & mature years & special diets in the later years. People’s taste in clothes, furniture & recreation is also age related.
- OCCUPATION- A person’s occupation also influences his or her consumption pattern. Marketers try to identify the occupational groups that have above – average interest in their products and services. A company can even specialize its products for certain occupational groups.
- ECONOMIC CIRCUMSTANCES- Product choices are greatly affected by one’s economic circumstances. Economic stability consist of their spend able income (its level, stability and time pattern), saving and assets (including the percentage that is liquid), debts , borrowing power, attitude toward spending versus saving.
- LIFESTYLE- People coming from the same subculture, social class & occupation may lead quite different lifestyles. A person’s lifestyles the person’s pattern of living in the world as expressed in the persons activities, interests & opinions.
- PERSONALITY AND SELF-CONCEPT- Each person has a distinct personality that influences his or her buying behavior. By personality, we mean a person’s distinguishing psychological characteristics that lead to relatively consistent and enduring responses to his or her environment. Personality can be a useful variable in analyzing consumer behavior, provided that personality type can be classified accurately and that strong correlations exist between certain personality types and product or brand choices.
A person’s buying choices are influenced by four major psychological factors – motivations, perception, learning, beliefs and attitudes.
- MOTIVATION- A person has many needs at any given time. A need becomes motive when it is aroused to a sufficient level of intensity. Motivational researchers hold that each product is capable of arousing a unique set of motive in consumers.
- LEARNING- When people act they learn. Learning involves changes in an individual’s behavior arising from experience. Learning theory teaches marketers that they can build up demand for a product by associating it with strong drives, using motivating cues and providing positive reinforcement.
- PERCEPTION- Perception is the process by which an individual selects, organizes, & interprets information inputs to create a meaningful picture of the world. A motivated person is ready to act. How the motivated person actually acts is influenced by his or her perception of the situation.
- BELIEFS & ATTITUDES- A belief is a descriptive thought that a person holds about something. Through doing & learning, people acquire beliefs & attitudes. These in turn influence their buying behavior. Particularly important to global marketers is the fact that buyers often hold distinct disbelief’s about brands or products based on their country of origin. An attitude is person’s enduring favorable or unfavorable evaluations, emotional feelings, and action tendencies towards some object or idea. People have attitude toward almost everything: religion, politics, clothes, music, food, and so on. Attitude put them into a frame of mind of liking or disliking an object , moving toward or away from it.