Understanding Consumer Behaviour
According to Belch & Belch (2004), Consumer Behaviour can be defined as the process and activities people engage in when searching for, selecting, purchasing, using, evaluating, and disposing of products and services so as to satisfy their needs and desires.
A challenge faced by most marketers is how to influence the purchase behaviour of consumers in favour of the product or service they offer. For many products and services, purchase decisions are the result of a long, detailed process that may include an extensive information search, brand comparisons and evaluations, and other activities. Other purchase decisions are more incidental and may result from little more than seeing a product prominently displayed at a discount price in a store.
Marketers’ success in influencing purchase behaviour depends in large part on how well they understand consumer behaviour. Marketers need to know the specific needs consumers are attempting to satisfy and how they translate into purchase criteria. They need to understand how consumers gather information regarding various alternatives and use this information to select among competing brands. They need to understand how customers make purchase decisions.
Where do they prefer to buy a product? How are they influenced by marketing stimuli at the point of purchase? Marketers also need to understand how the consumer decision process and reasons for purchase vary among different types of customers.
To better understand the reasons underlying consumer purchases, marketers devote considerable attention to examining buying motives that is, those factors that compel a consumer to buy a particular brand. This is done because they are aware that consumers do not buy products. Instead they buy motive satisfaction or problem solutions. For instance, consumers that buy perfume, aftershave lotion actually buy romance and sex appeal.
Buying motives have two broad classifications:
- Emotional motives
These are motives promoted by reasons, i.e. consumers buy products on the basis of good prices, higher quality or better customer care by the company. These and other factors are briefly explained below:
This is a major determinant of what consumers buy and in what quantity, especially in poverty-ridden country. Majority of the consumers will favour products that offer value for money i.e. modestly priced.
This also propels a large number of consumers to prefer one product or brand to another. For instance in spite of the high cost of GSM a substantial number of telecommunication subscribers prefer it CDMA, which is more cost effective because of the perceived quality of the former.
This is a strong motive for purchase among large number of consumers. Every rational consumer buys a product for the purpose of solving a specific problem or satisfying a specific need.
This provides another reason for choosing to buy one brand of product or the other. In this world of intense price and quality competition many wise marketers are now turning to customer service to differentiate their offering from the clutter market and stay ahead of competition.
These are motives arising from feelings, emotions etc. Consumers buy for less tangible reasons of fear self-preservation, pride emulation and sociability.
Some purchases are made out of the fear being criticized, isolated or excommunicated by a peer group in the case of consumer goods, industrial buyers may buy a particular brand of product for the fear of being sanctioned by the superior who might have interest in such a brand.
Many purchases are made out of the need for self- preservation and not because there is a rational need for such products. This is the case with many innovators who buy new products as soon as they are lunched into the market.
This is purchase made to imitate peer groups or others. The poor academic performance of some students in examination might lead one to believe that they are in school simply because their friends.
This is a desire to belong to specific class in the society. Many women that bleach their skin do so to achieve social standing.
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