Consumer Behaviour Essay

Published: 2020-04-22 15:24:05
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Consumers make many buying decisions every day, and the buying decision is the focal point of the marketers effort. 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 consumers mind.

Often, consumers themselves dont know exactly what influences their purchases. The human mind doesnt work in a linear way, says one marketing expert. The idea that the mind is a computer with storage compartments where brands or logos or recognizable packages are stored in clearly marked folders that can be accessed by cleverly written ads or commercials simply doesnt exist. Instead, the mind is a whirling, swirling, jumbled mass of neurons bouncing around, colliding and continuously creating new concepts and thoughts and relationships inside every single persons brain all over the world.

The central question for marketers is as follows: How do consumers respond to various marketing efforts the company might use? The starting point is the stimulus-response model of buyer behavior shown in Figure 5.1. This figure shows that marketing and other stimuli enter the consumers black box and produce certain responses. Marketers must figure out what is in the buyers black box.

Marketing stimuli consist of the four Ps: product, price, place, and promotion. Other stimuli include major forces and events in the buyers environment: economic, technological, political, and cultural. All these inputs enter the buyers black box, where they are turned into a set of buyer responses: the buyers brand and company relationship behavior and what he or she buys, when, where, and how often.

Marketers want to understand how the stimuli are changed into responses inside the consumers black box, which has two parts. First, the buyers characteristics influence how he or she perceives and reacts to the stimuli. Second, the buyers decision process itself affects his or her behavior. We look first at buyer characteristics as they affect buyer behavior and then discuss the buyer decision process.

Many levels of factors affect our buying behavior”from broad cultural and social influences to motivations, beliefs, and attitudes lying deep within us. For example, why did you buy that specific cell phone? Consumer purchases are influenced strongly by cultural, social, personal, and psychological characteristics, as shown in Figure 5.2. For the most part, marketers cannot control such factors, but they must take them into account.

Cultural Factors

Cultural factors exert a broad and deep influence on consumer behavior. Marketers need to understand the role played by the buyers culture, subculture, and social class.


Culture is the most basic cause of a persons wants and behavior. Human behavior is largely learned. Growing up in a society, a child learns basic values, perceptions, wants, and behaviors from his or her family and other important institutions. A child in the United States normally learns or is exposed to the following values: achievement and success, individualism, freedom, hard work, activity and involvement, efficiency and practicality, material comfort, 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. A failure to adjust to these differences can result in ineffective marketing or embarrassing mistakes.


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. Examples of four such important subculture groups include Hispanic American, African American, Asian American, and mature consumers.

Hispanic American Consumers

The nations nearly 50 million Hispanic consumers have an annual buying power of more than $950 billion, a figure that will grow to an estimated $1.4 trillion by 2013. Hispanic consumer spending has grown at more than twice the rate of general-market spending over the past four years.

Although Hispanic consumers share many characteristics and behaviors with the mainstream buying pubic, there are also distinct differences. They tend to be deeply family oriented and make shopping a family affair; children have a big say in what brands they buy.

Perhaps more important, Hispanic consumers, particularly first-generation immigrants, are very brand loyal, and they favor brands and sellers who show special interest in them.

African American Consumers

With an annual buying power of $913 billion, estimated to reach $1.2 trillion by 2013, the nations 42 million African American consumers also attract much marketing attention. The U.S. black population is growing in affluence and sophistication. Although more price conscious than other segments, blacks are also strongly motivated by quality and selection. Brands are important. So is shopping. Black consumers seem to enjoy shopping more than other groups, even for something as mundane as groceries. In recent years, many companies have developed special products, appeals, and marketing programs for African American consumers.

For example, P&Gs roots run deep in this market. P&G has long been the leader in African American advertising, spending nearly twice as much as the second-place spender. It has a long history of using black spokespeople in its ads, beginning in 1969 with entertainer Bill Cosby endorsing Crest. Today, youll see Angela Bassett promoting the benefits of Olay body lotion for black skin, Derek Jeter discussing the virtues of Gillette razors and deodorant, and Queen Latifah in commercials promoting a Cover Girl line for women of color. In addition to traditional product marketing efforts, P&G also supports a broader My Black Is Beautiful movement.

Asian American Consumers

Asian Americans are the most affluent U.S. demographic segment. They now number nearly 15 million and wield more than $500 billion in annual spending power, expected to reach $750 billion in 2013. They are the second fastest-growing population sub segment after Hispanic Americans. And like Hispanic Americans, they are a diverse group. Chinese Americans constitute the largest group, followed by Filipinos, Asian Indians, Vietnamese, Korean Americans, and Japanese Americans. Asian consumers may be the most tech-savvy segment; more than 90 percent of Asian Americans go online regularly and are most comfortable with Internet technologies such as online banking.

As a group, Asian consumers shop frequently and are the most brand conscious of all the ethnic groups. They can be fiercely brand loyal. As a result, many firms are now targeting the Asian American market, companies like State Farm, McDonalds, Verizon, Toyota, and Wal-Mart. For example, among its many other Asian American targeting efforts, McDonalds has built a special Web site for this segment (, offered in both English and Asian languages. The fun and involving, community-oriented site highlights how McDonalds is working with and serving the Asian American community.

Mature Consumers

As the U.S. population ages, mature consumers are becoming a very attractive market. By 2015, when all the baby boomers will be 50-plus, people ages 50 to 75 will account for 40 percent of adult consumers. By 2030, adults ages 65 and older will represent nearly 20 percent of the population. And these mature consumer segments boast the most expendable cash.

The 50-plus consumer segment now accounts for nearly 50 percent of all consumer spending, more than any current or previous generation. They have 2.5 times the discretionary buying power of those ages 18 to 34. As one marketing executive puts it, they have assets, not allowances. Despite some financial setbacks resulting from the recent economic crisis, mature consumers remain an attractive market for companies in all industries, from pharmaceuticals, furniture, groceries, beauty products, and clothing to consumer electronics, travel and entertainment, and financial services.

Social Factors

A consumers behavior also is influenced by social factors, such as the consumers small groups, family, and social roles and status.

Social class

Relatively permanent and ordered divisions in a society whose members share similar values, interests, and behaviors.


Two or more people who interact to accomplish individual or mutual goals.

Groups and Social Networks

Many small groups influence a persons behavior. Groups that have a direct influence and to which a person belongs are called membership groups. In contrast, reference groups serve as direct (face-to-face) or indirect points of comparison or reference in forming a persons attitudes or behavior. People often are influenced by reference groups to which they do not belong. For example, an aspirational group is one to which the individual wishes to belong, as when a young basketball player hopes to someday emulate basketball star LeBron James and play in the National

Basketball Association (NBA)

Marketers try to identify the reference groups of their target markets. Reference groups expose a person to new behaviors and lifestyles, influence the persons attitudes and selfconcept, and create pressures to conform that may affect the persons 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.

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