CONSUMER BUYING BEHAVIOR:
A. Model of consumer behavior Consumers make many buying decisions every day. Most large companies research consumer buying decisions in great detail to answer questions about what consumers buy, where they buy, how and how much they buy, when they buy, and why they buy. Marketers can study actual consumer purchases to find out what they buy, where, and how much. But learning about the whys of consumer buying behavior is not so easy—the answers are often locked deep within the consumer’s head. The central question for marketers is: How do consumers respond to various marketing efforts the company might use? The company that really understands how consumers will respond to different product features, prices, and advertising appeals has a great advantage over its competitors. The starting point is the stimulus-response model of buyer behavior shown in Figure . This figure shows that marketing and other stimuli enter the consumer’s “black box” and produce certain responses. Marketers must figure out what is in the buyer’s black box.3 Model of consumer behavior
Marketing stimuli consist of the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. Other stimuli include major forces and events in the buyer’s environment: economic, technological, political, and cultural. All these inputs enter the buyer’s black box, where they are turned into a set of observable buyer responses: product choice, brand choice, dealer choice, purchase timing, and purchase amount. The marketer wants to understand how the stimuli are changed into responses inside the consumer’s black box, which has two parts. First, the buyer’s characteristics influence how he or she perceives and reacts to the stimuli. Second, the buyer’s decision process itself affects the buyer’s behavior. This chapter looks first at buyer characteristics as they affect buying behavior, and then discusses the buyer decision process.
Consumer purchases are influenced strongly by cultural, social, personal, and psychological characteristics, as shown in Figure For the most part, marketers cannot control such factors, but they must take them into account.
B. Factors influencing consumer behavior
Markets have to be understood
before marketing strategies can be
developed. People using consumer
Consumers vary tremendously in age,
income, education, tastes, and other factors. Consumer behavior is influenced by the buyer’s characteristics and by the buyer’s decision process. Buyer characteristics include four major factors: cultural, social, personal, and psychological. We can say that following factors can influence the Buying decision of the buyer:
a. Cultural Factors Cultural factors exert the broadest and deepest influence on consumer behavior. The marketer needs to understand the role played by the buyer’s culture, subculture, and social class.
I. Culture Culture is the most basic cause of a person’s wants and behavior. Human behavior is largely learned. Growing up in a society, a child learns basic values, perceptions, wants, and behaviors from the family and other important institutions. A person normally learns or is exposed to the following values: achievement and success, activity and involvement, efficiency and practicality, progress, material comfort, individualism, freedom, humanitarianism, youthfulness, and fitness and health. Every group or society has a culture, and cultural influences on buying behavior may vary greatly from country to country. Failure to adjust to these differences can result in ineffective marketing or embarrassing mistakes. For example, business representatives of a U.S. community trying to market itself in Taiwan found this out the hard way. Seeking more foreign trade, they arrived in Taiwan bearing gifts of green baseball caps. It turned out that the trip was scheduled a month before Taiwan elections, and that green was the color of the political opposition party. Worse yet, the visitors learned after the fact that according to Taiwan culture, a man wears green to signify that his wife has been unfaithful. The head of the community delegation later noted, “I don’t know whatever happened to those green hats, but the trip gave us an understanding of the extreme differences in our cultures.” International marketers must understand the culture in each international market and adapt their marketing strategies accordingly.
II. Subculture Each culture contains smaller subcultures or groups of people with shared value systems based on common life experiences and situations. Subcultures include nationalities, religions, racial groups, and geographic regions. Many subcultures make up important market segments, and marketers often design products and marketing programs tailored to their needs. Here are examples of four such important subculture groups.
III. Social Class Almost every society has some form of social class structure. Social Classes are society’s relatively permanent and ordered divisions whose members share similar values, interests, and behaviors. Social class is not determined by a single factor, such as income, but is measured as a combination of occupation, income, education, wealth, and other variables. In some social systems, members of different classes are reared for certain roles and cannot change their social positions. Marketers are interested in social class because people within a given social class tend to exhibit similar buying behavior. Social classes show distinct product and brand preferences in areas such as clothing, home furnishings, leisure activity, and automobiles.
b. Social Factors A consumer’s behavior also is influenced by social factors, such as the consumer’s small groups, family, and social roles and status.
I. Groups Many small groups influence a person’s behavior. Groups that have a direct influence and to which a person belongs are called membership groups. In contrast, reference groups serve as direct (faceto-face) or indirect points of comparison or reference in forming a person’s attitudes or behavior. Reference groups to which they do not belong often influence people. Marketers try to identify the reference groups of their target markets. Reference groups expose a person to new behaviors and lifestyles, influence the person’s attitudes and self-concept, and create pressures to conform that may affect the person’s product and brand choices. The importance of group influence varies across products and brands. It tends to be strongest when the product is visible to others whom the buyer respects. Manufacturers of products and brands subjected to strong group influence must figure out how to reach opinion leaders—people within a reference group who, because of special skills, knowledge, personality, or other characteristics, exert influence on others. Many marketers try to identify opinion leaders for their products and direct marketing efforts toward them. In other cases, advertisements can simulate opinion leadership, thereby reducing the need for consumers to seek advice from others. The importance of group influence varies across products and brands. It tends to be strongest when the product is visible to others whom the buyer respects. Purchases of products that are bought and used privately are not much affected by group influences because neither the product nor the brand will be noticed by others.
II. Family Family members can strongly influence buyer behavior. The family is the most important consumer buying organization in society, and it has been researched extensively. Marketers are interested in the roles and influence of the husband, wife, and children on the purchase of different products and services. Husband-wife involvement varies widely by product category and by stage in the buying process. Buying roles change with evolving consumer lifestyles. Such changes suggest that marketers who’ve typically sold their products to only women or only men are now courting the opposite sex. For example, with research revealing that women now account for nearly half of all hardware store purchases, home improvement retailers such as Home Depot and Builders Square have turned what once were intimidating warehouses into female-friendly retail outlets. The new Builders Square II outlets feature decorator design centers at the front of the store. To attract more women, Builders Square runs ads targeting women in Home, House Beautiful, Woman’s Day, and Better Homes and Gardens. Home Depot even offers bridal registries. Similarly, after research indicated that women now make up 34 percent of the luxury car market, Cadillac has started paying more attention to this important segment. Male car designers at Cadillac are going about their work with paper clips on their fingers to simulate what it feels like to operate buttons, knobs, and other interior features with longer fingernails. The Cadillac Catera features an air-conditioned glove box to preserve such items as lipstick and film. Under the hood, yellow markings highlight where fluid fills go. Children may also have a strong influence on family buying decisions. For example, it ran ads to woo these “back-seat consumers” in Sports Illustrated for Kids, which attracts mostly 8- to 14year-old boys. “We’re kidding ourselves when we think kids aren’t aware of brands,” says Venture’s brand manager, adding that even she was surprised at how often parents told her that kids played a tie-breaking role in deciding which car to buy. In the case of expensive products and services, husbands and wives often make joint decisions.
III. Roles and Status A person belongs to many groups—family, clubs, organizations. The person’s position in each group can be defined in terms of both role and status. A role consists of the activities people are expected to perform according to the persons around them.