A business that is set up to make profit prioritizes the satisfaction of customers and other stakeholders.
The satisfaction of customers is dependent on the business having a thorough knowledge of its customers, their wants, motives, preferences, purchasing power and demographic characteristics.
A good marketing decision depends on how good the level of knowledge about the consumer behavior. The consumer behavior is influenced by consumer’s needs, wants and expenditure patterns.
And these influences should usually form the object of marketing.
What does it matter to pay attention consumer behavior? Because ignoring consumer behavior is setting to run a business at a loss.
What then is consumer behavior?
Consumer behavior is a combination of thoughts and actions a consumer exhibits as they search for, buy, use, assess and dispose of products and services they get for the satisfaction of needs.
Consumer behavior could be displayed through physical, emotional and mental activities engaged in to satisfy needs.
The importance of understanding the behavior of your customers cannot be over=emphasized. Without an adequate understanding of a customer behavior, businesses will not be able to build profitable relationships with customers.
For instance, making accurate predictions about consumers’ preferences, coming up with effective after-sales policies and initiating other sales boosting strategies will be very difficult.
Having realized the importance of understanding consumer buying behavior, is there a process to gain this understanding? Yes, there is a process. It is called consumer decision process.
What is the consumer decision process?
The consumer decision process is identification of stages a customer passes through to choose a product or service; an item of purchase. What are these stages? They are:
- The identification of an urgent need,
2. The search for information on available product or service which can satisfy the urgent need identified,
3. The evaluation of alternatives: this involves the consideration of substitutes, the research about quality superiority, prices and the relative ease of accessibility,
4. The decision and the purchase of the chosen product or service and,
5. The post-purchase assessment of purchase: at this stage, the following questions are asked: did the purchase satisfy the identified need? If it did, what was the level of satisfaction?
The stages listed above help in formulating marketing strategies that create a marketing campaign to trigger recognition of a need or want by prospective customers and also, provide call-to-action product information.
They also help to provide after sales services that helps to reduce customers’ cognitive dissonance.
A cognitive dissonance is a feeling of uncertainty that a customer has about a purchase. The feeling of uncertainty arises when a customer believes that the purchase has disadvantages that a rejected substitute has and also shares similarities with the rejected alternative.
To get the best out of the study of consumer buying behavior, it’s important to examine factors that affect consumer behavior.
What factors affect consumer buying behavior?
These are psychological factors that explain why and how consumers behave the way they do.
A business that’s success driven should want to know how to induce people with money to buy their products, what to do to win over customers from competitors and what promotional tools to use to stay ahead of the game.
Precisely, they should find out; how can we motivate customers to buy from us and not from competitors?
Answers to these questions are found by understanding the motivators of consumer behavior. These motivators are factors that affect consumer buying behavior. They are:
- Rational motives for purchasing: Rational motives are based on logic and economic considerations.
A customer, who makes a purchase on the basis of rational motives, considers quality, durability, price, dependability and practicability.
The rational customer goes to length to examine the pros and cons of purchase before reaching the decision to buy.
The evaluation doesn’t end at the point of purchase, results of the purchase are also evaluated by a rational buyer.
2. Ego based motives: some customers make a purchase to satisfy the self concept or ego.
They make a purchase that they believe will give them a better self image and an improved status among friends and colleagues.
A customer motivated by the satisfaction of self interest is wholly concerned about ‘me’, ‘mine’ and ‘I’.
3. Emotional buying motives: emotional buying decisions largely come from the heart with little rational considerations. Here, a customer is more interested in satisfying emotional needs of love, fear, acceptance and less interested in survival.
Emotional buying decisions could arise from the need to please a boss and to just satisfy curiosity.
4. Patronage buying decision: this is the decision to buy regularly a brand or to exclusively buy from one location.
The patronage buying decision is largely influenced by price and to some extent, location.
In summary, the consumer buying behavior is influenced by three major components.
These are the personality of the buyer, the purchasing power of the buyer and the buyer motivation.