A consumers buyer behavior is influenced by four major factors; cultural, social, personal, and psychological factors. These factors cause consumers to develop product and brand preferences. Although many of these factors cannot be directly controlled by marketers, understanding of their impact is essential as marketing mix strategies can be developed to appeal to the preferences of the target market.
When purchasing any product, a consumer goes through a decision process. This process consists of up to five stages: problem recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decisions and post purchase behavior. The length of this decision process will vary, ranging from a shorter routine response behavior, to limited problem solving and a more comprehensive extensive problem solving. A consumer may not act in isolation in the purchase, but rather may be influenced by any of several people in various roles. The number of people involved in the buying decision increases with the level of involvement and complexity of the buying decision behavior.
Consumers buyer behavior and the resulting purchase decision is strongly influenced by cultural, social, personal and psychological characteristics. An understanding of the influence of these factors is essential for marketers in order to develop suitable marketing mixes to appeal to the target customer.
CULTURAL factors include a consumer’s culture, subculture and social class. These factors are often inherent in our values and decision processes.
SOCIAL factors include groups (reference groups, aspiration groups and member groups), family, roles and status. This explains the outside influences of others on our purchase decisions either directly or indirectly.
PERSONAL factors include such variables as age and lifecycle stage, occupation, economic circumstances, lifestyle (activities, interests, opinions and demographics), personality and self-concept. These may explain why our preferences often change as our situation changes.
PSCHOLOGICAL factors affecting our purchase decision include motivation perception, learning, beliefs and attitudes.
Other people often influence a consumers purchase decision. The marketer needs to know which people are involved in the buying decision and what role each person plays, so that marketing strategies can also be aimed at these people.
Initiator- the person who first suggests or thinks of the idea of buying a particular product or service.
Influencer- a person whose views or advice carries some weight in making the final buying decisions.
Decider- the person who ultimately makes a buying decision or any part of it.
Buyer- the person who makes the actual purchase.
User- the person who consumes the product or service.
Types of Buying Decisions
Consumer decision making varies with the level of involvement in the purchase decision. Routine response behavior occurs when buyers purchase low cost, frequently purchase items with which they are familiar. Limited problem solving occurs when buyers are confronted with an unfamiliar brand in a familiar product category. Extensive problem solving occurs when buyers purchase more expensive, less frequently purchased products in an unfamiliar product category.
The Consumer Expenditure Survey collects information from the Nation’s households and families on their buying habits (expenditures), income, and characteristics. The strength of the survey is that it allows data users to relate the expenditures and income of consumers to the characteristics of those consumers. The survey consists of two components, a quarterly Interview Survey and a weekly Diary Survey, each with its own questionnaire and sample.
Data from the Consumer Expenditure Survey are used in a number of different ways by a variety of users. Market researchers find the data useful in analyzing the demand for groups of goods and services. The data allow them to track spending trends of different types of consumer. Government and private agencies use the data to study the welfare of particular segments of the population, such as of consumer units with a reference person age 65 and over or under age 25, or for low-income consumer units. Economic policymakers use the data to study the impact of policy changes in the welfare of different socioeconomic groups. Researchers use the data in a variety of studies, including those that focus on the spending behavior of different family types, trends in expenditures on various expenditure components including new types of goods and services, gift-giving behavior, consumption studies, and historical spending trends. An important use of the survey by BLS is for the periodic revision of the Bureau’s Consumer Price Index (CPI). Survey results are used to select new market baskets of goods and services for the CPI, to determine the relative importance of CPI components, and to derive new cost weights for the market baskets.