Consumer behavior refers to the study of how, when, where and why individuals and groups of people make their purchase decisions in a given market. Marketing should find out how people make their select different products and services before a marketing strategy is developed for any given company or organization.
Consumers form an important element in marketing. Therefore, it aims at affecting the way in which consumers act or think. Marketing should know how consumers are influenced to buy products or services and other decisions that they make before finally choosing to buy products. Marketing must be focused on understanding how consumers make buying decisions for it to be successful. After understanding the buying behavior, the marketer can then control them.
The marketers must understand the various consumer responses that a company may expect and therefore should first figure out what the black box of the buyer contains (Kotler, 2001).
The stimuli that consumers respond to include: product, price, place and promotions. Other factors like the consumer’s environment, political and technological factors may affect their decisions. A buyer has his unique characteristics that affect his response to these factors as well as the processes involved in decision making.
Consumer purchase decisions can be affected by many characteristics like cultural, personal, social and psychological factors. Marketing should understand the cultural values and perceptions of the consumers. For example, in designing of clothes or foods to be sold to the society, one has to understand the consumers.
Personal factors include age, occupation and lifestyle of the consumers. Appropriate products should be supplied to the consumers e.g. banks may have special accounts for children to cater for their specific needs. The occupation also affects the products that one uses. Most white collar jobs require one to wear a suit, while casual workers wear rugged clothes. Consumers are concerned with the value obtained from buying the products e.g. Sofa sets and other furniture.
Social factors include the family, group that one belongs to and the status of an individual. The peer group also has an influence in the products that one has to buy since they may discuss about the products and use the opinions obtained to make their purchase decisions.
People who belong to a certain class in the society can only purchase certain types of products. For example, upper class society can buy very expensive products unlike the lower class who may not afford to buy such expensive items. Marketers should make their strategies while considering such factors. Family members may also have an influence on the products that one can purchase.
Psychological factors like motivation, beliefs and attitudes have an influence on purchase decisions. A consumer is driven by something and therefore needs to satisfy a certain need. As Abraham Maslow explains how various needs motivate people, they first satisfy the most important needs before moving to the next (Maslow, 1954).
A buyer goes through various stages in making a decision to buy a given product. The process begins by recognizing that a need exists or a problem that can only be satisfied by a specific product. The consumer then finds more information about the product, evaluates the alternatives of the various brands available after which he makes a purchase decision and buys the product. Finally, the consumer can find out whether there was satisfaction or dissatisfaction in using the product. The marketers should therefore understand each of the stages involved in making their strategic decisions.
I purchased a laptop from usanotebook.com website. When I wanted to buy a Toshiba laptop, I had to consider the Product, Price, promotion and the Place. I had to first check whether the laptop could assist me in doing assignments as fast as I could; hence I had to check on the processing speed. I wanted a brand new laptop that had a webcam, DVD RW drive and at least a 1 year warranty. The appearance in terms of the color and the durability of the material was the other factor.
Next, I had to consider the price. I only purchased what I could afford to buy. It had to cost less than $500. Although high quality products come with high prices, the price should be reasonable.
I then had to check on the promotions available from the dealers of such laptops. I checked over the internet for cheaply priced laptops. I realized that there was a special discount for students buying from the dealer and so decided on the usanotebook.com as they also had a 1 year warranty. The promotions made me choose the dealer.
The place of getting the laptop was also another factor. I could not travel far, so I decided to buy from the nearby branch of the dealer. This saved the time and costs of having to travel to buy the laptop. That is how I ended up buying the laptop for $ 470. I have found it useful and hope to still buy from the dealer in future.
Kotler, P. (2001). Principles of marketing. New York, NY: Pearson.
Maslow, A. (1954). Motivation and personality. New York, NY: Harper.