Factors influencing consumer Behavior

Consumer purchasers are influenced by strongly by cultural, social, personal and psychological characteristics as shown below

Buying Behaviour

We can say that following factors can influence the Buying decision of the buyer:

a. Cultural

b. Social

c. Personal

d. Psychological

1.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.

a. 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.

b. 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.

c. 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.

2. 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.

a. 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.

b. 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 14- year-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.

c. 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.

3. Personal Factors

A buyer’s decisions also are influenced by personal characteristics such as the buyer’s age and lifecycle stage, occupation, economic situation, lifestyle, and personality and self-concept.

a. Age and Life-Cycle Stage

People change the goods and services they buy over their lifetimes. Tastes in food, clothes, furniture, and recreation are often age related. Buying is also shaped by the stage of the family life cycle—the stages through which families might pass as they mature over time. Marketers often define their target markets in terms of life-cycle stage and develop appropriate products and marketing plans for each stage. Traditional family life-cycle stages include young singles and married couples with children.

b. Occupation

A person’s occupation affects the goods and services bought. Blue-collar workers tend to buy more rugged work clothes, whereas white-collar workers buy more business suits. Marketers try to identify the occupational groups that have an above-average interest in their products and services.

A company can even specialize in making products needed by a given occupational group. Thus, computer software companies will design different products for brand managers, accountants, engineers, lawyers, and doctors.

c. Economic Situation

A person’s economic situation will affect product choice. Marketers of income-sensitive goods watch trends in personal income, savings, and interest rates. If economic indicators point to a recession, marketers can take steps to redesign, reposition, and reprice their products closely.

d. Lifestyle

People coming from the same subculture, social class, and occupation may have quite different lifestyles. Life style is a person’s pattern of living as expressed in his or her psychographics. It involves measuring consumers’ major AIO dimensions—activities (work, hobbies, shopping, sports, social events), interests (food, fashion, family, recreation), and opinions (about themselves, social issues, business, products). Lifestyle captures something more than the person’s social class or personality. It profiles a person’s whole pattern of acting and interacting in the world.

Several research firms have developed lifestyle classifications. It divides consumers into eight groups based on two major dimensions: self-orientation and resources. Self-orientation groups include principle-oriented consumers who buy based on their views of the world; status-oriented buyers who base their purchases on the actions and opinions of others; and action-oriented buyers who are driven by their desire for activity, variety, and risk taking. Consumers within each orientation are further classified into those with abundant resources and those with minimal resources, depending on whether they have high or low levels of income, education, health, self-confidence, energy, and other factors. Consumers with either very high or very low levels of resources are classified without regard to their self-orientations (actualizers, strugglers). Actualizers are people with so   many resources that they can indulge in any or all self-orientations. In contrast, strugglers are people with too few resources to be included in any consumer orientation.

e. Personality and Self-Concept

Each person’s distinct personality influences his or her buying behavior. Personality refers to the unique psychological characteristics that lead to relatively consistent and lasting responses to one’s own environment. Personality is usually described in terms of traits such as self-confidence, dominance, sociability, autonomy, defensiveness, adaptability, and aggressiveness. Personality can be useful in analyzing consumer behavior for certain product or brand choices. For example, coffee marketers have discovered that heavy coffee drinkers tend to be high on sociability. Thus, to attract customers, Starbucks and other coffeehouses create environments in which people can relax and socialize over a cup of steaming coffee.

Many marketers use a concept related to personality—a person’s self-concept (also called self-image). The basic self-concept premise is that people’s possessions contribute to and reflect their identities; that is, “we are what we have.” Thus, in order to understand consumer behavior, the marketer must first understand the relationship between consumer self-concept and possessions. For example, the founder and chief executive of Barnes & Noble, the nation’s leading bookseller, notes

4. Psychological Factors

A person’s buying choices are further influenced by four major psychological factors: motivation, perception, learning, and beliefs and attitudes.

a. Motivation

A person has many needs at any given time. Some are biological, arising from states of tension such as hunger, thirst, or discomfort. Others are psychological, arising from the need for recognition, esteem, or belonging. Most of these needs will not be strong enough to motivate the person to act at a given point in time. A need becomes a motive when it is aroused to a sufficient level of intensity. A motive (or drive) is a need that is sufficiently pressing to direct the person to seek satisfaction. Psychologists have developed theories of human motivation. Two of the most popular—the theories of Sigmund Freud and Abraham Maslow—have quite different meanings for consumer analysis and marketing.

b. Maslow’s Theory of Motivation

Abraham Maslow sought to explain why people are driven by particular needs at particular times. Why does one person spend much time and energy on personal safety and another on gaining the esteem of others? Maslow’s answer is that human needs are arranged in a hierarchy, from the most pressing to the least pressing. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is shown in Figure. In order of importance, they are physiological needs, safety needs, social needs, esteem needs, and self-actualization needs. A person tries to satisfy the most important need first. When that need is satisfied, it will stop being a motivator and the person will then try to satisfy the next most important need. For example, starving people (physiological need) will not take an interest in the latest happenings in the art world (self-actualization needs), nor in how they are seen or esteemed by others (social or esteem needs), nor even in whether they are breathing clean air (safety needs). But as each important need is satisfied, the next most important need will come into play.

c. Perception

A motivated person is ready to act. How the person acts is influenced by his or her own perception of the situation. All of us learn by the flow of information through our five senses: sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste. However, each of us receives, organizes, and interprets this sensory information in an individual way. Perception is the process by which people select, organize, and interpret information to form a meaningful picture of the world.

People can form different perceptions of the same stimulus because of three perceptual processes: selective attention, selective distortion, and selective retention. People are exposed to a great amount of stimuli every day. For example, the average person may be exposed to more than 1,500 ads in a single day. It is impossible for a person to pay attention to all these stimuli. Selective attention—the tendency for people to screen out most of the information to which they are exposed—means that marketers have to work especially hard to attract the consumer’s attention.

Even noted stimuli do not always come across in the intended way. Each person fits incoming information into an existing mind-set. Selective distortion describes the tendency of people to interpret information in a way that will support what they already believe. Selective distortion means that marketers must try to understand the mind-sets of consumers and how these will affect interpretations of advertising and sales information.

d. Learning

When people act, they learn. Learning describes changes in an individual’s behavior arising from experience. Learning theorists say that most human behavior is learned. Learning occurs through the interplay of drives, stimuli, cues, responses, and reinforcement.

e. Beliefs and Attitudes

Through doing and learning, people acquire beliefs and attitudes. These, in turn, influence their buying behavior. A belief is a descriptive thought that a person has about something. Buying behavior differs greatly for a tube of toothpaste, a tennis racket, an expensive camera, and a new car. More complex decisions usually involve more buying participants and more buyer deliberation. Figure shows types of consumer buying behavior based on the degree of buyer involvement and the degree of differences among brands.

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