The Consumer is the pivot around which every marketing system revolves. For a brand to thrive, it must appeal to and gratify some Consumer need and no business can be successful if it disregards the needs of its Consumers. In essence, if a business is to be successful, it has to understand Consumers. This is because a brand’s image and its success will be determined by how effective it has been in meeting the diverse Consumer needs and wants by treating each customer as unique and offering products and services to suit their needs.
The study of Consumer Behaviour provides an insight into how Consumers arrive at the purchase decision and the variables influencing their decision. The decision to purchase confronts the Consumer with a host of potential challenges. Most important, perhaps, is the problem structuring that occurs prior to making a decision: becoming aware of the need for, or availability of a new product or service; collecting information about the alternatives; and other circumstances relevant to the purchase decision. Upon organizing the problematic, the Consumer processes the derived information, chooses a preferred course of action, and implements the decision at an appropriate opportunity. Finally, Consumers use feedback resulting from a purchase to re-evaluate their decision. This feedback arising from experience can also prove valuable for future purchase decisions. Understanding them is not a stray random activity. This is because Consumers show wide variations in size and potential. This is where understanding of Consumer behaviour typologies becomes important: a process that begins with understanding the profile of the average Consumer and how he relates with the brand in question.
Various factors influence Consumers decisions and these may be classified as follows:
Every Consumer belongs to a group. The group ‘figuration’ influences the self-image of Consumer and consequently, the Consumer’s behaviour. The environment forms the atmosphere for an individual to acquire values, develop and shape personality. This environment offers the possibility to develop attitudes and opinions towards several subjects such as social relations, society and politics.
A family creates first perceptions about Consumer habits. For instance, the Consumer who had an inherent brand perception when young can carry out these same selections in the adult life.
The Consumer plays diverse roles in life. Each role comes with an array of activities and outlooks, which might influence behaviour. Product and brand selection therefore, often reflects social role and status. The role/group/activity provides some points of comparison to Consumers about their behavior, lifestyle or habits. Family, close friends, neighbors, work group or other people that Consumers associate with could form these groups.
The groups to which a Consumer does not belong can also influence. These are aspiration groups where a Consumer aspires to belong and wants to be part in the future.
Consumers are constantly evolving and product and brand choice may alter depending on life stage or age. The environment, values, lifestyle, hobbies and Consumer habits evolve during lifetime. Family life stage may also influence purchasing behavior and brand selection.
A Consumer’s occupation and purchasing power influence purchasing decisions and buying behavior. The income level affects what Consumers can afford. People, who share similar occupations, for instance, might tend to have similar taste in music, clothing and leisure activities. They usually socialize with each other, and share the same kind of values and ideas. Income level also affects what a Consumer can afford and perspective towards money.
Individuals from lower income groups are probably more interested in buying products that are necessary for survival than spending on luxury brands or designer clothes.
A Consumer is an individual who has different kind of needs. These needs can be biological like thirst or psychological arising from the need of recognition or belonging. A need can be aroused to a sufficient level of intensity when it alters a motive. A motive is a need that drives a person to seek satisfaction.
A person acts according to his or her perception of the situation. Each person receives thousands of sensory stimuli like light, color, sound, smell, taste and texture. Perception is the process through which these sensations are selected, organized and interpret to form meaningful picture of the world. At the selective attention process, an individual focuses only on a few stimulus that he is exposed. They might neglect many stimuli in the environment and only focus on those related to their current need. For instance, someone who desires to have a new Television will likely pay more attention to different related adverts while neglecting promotions about Radio.
Full comprehension of Consumer behavior is impossible however, forecasting how a human behaves in purchasing situations is predictable through previous purchase decisions. Knowledge of Consumer behaviour is very relevant to Marketing in understanding the needs of different Consumer segments and developing appropriate marketing strategies for each. The study of Consumer behaviour also provides in-depth insight into how Consumers arrives at the purchase decision and the variable that influences their decision. It answers the question “why” Consumers engage in a specific manner. It assists Marketers in the sense that it answers that question “what” Consumers choose to engage in to become satisfied.
Who are your Target groups? What are their needs? Is your offering in accord with their needs/desires? Who are your Competitors? How do you gain competitive edge over them? These are questions begging for answers, on a continuous basis, for your brand to survive or continue to thrive.
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