Consumer Markets: Influences on consumer behavior

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  • Datum přidání: 06. února 2007
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Consumer Markets: Influences on consumer behavior


In earlier times, marketers could understand consumers well through the daily experience of selling to them. But as firms and markets have grown in size, many marketing decision makers have lost direct contact with their customers. Most marketers have had to turn to consumer research. They are spending more money than ever to study consumers, trying to learn more about consumer behavior. The company that really understands how consumers will respond to different product features, prices, and advertising appeals has a great advantage over its competitors. Therefore, companies and academics have heavily researched the relationship between marketing stimuli and consumers response. PERSONAL CHRACTERISTICS AFFECTING CONSUMER BEHAVIOR

Consumer purchases are strongly influenced by cultural, social, personal, and psychological characteristics. Cultural Factors:
Cultural factors exert the broadest and deepest influence on consumer behavior. The marketer needs to understand the roles played by the buyer’s culture, subculture, and social class. Culture is the most basic cause of a person’s wants and behavior. Growing up in a society, a child learns basic values, perceptions, wants, and behaviors from the family and other important institutions.
Subculture - each culture contains smaller subcultures, or groups of people with shared value systems based on common life experiences and situations. Nalionality groups such as the Irish, Polish, Italians, and Hispanics are found within larger communities and have distinct ethnic tastes and interests. Racial groups such as the blacks and Asians have distinct culture styles and attitudes. Many of these subcultures make up important market segments, and marketers often disign products and marketing programs tailored to the needs of these segments.
Social class - almost every society has some form of social class structure. Social classes are relatively permanent and ordered divisions in a society 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. Marketers are interested in social class because people within a given social class tend to exhibit similar behavior, including buying behavior.

Social classes show distinct product and brand preferences in such areas as clothing, home furnishings, leisure activity, and automobiles.
Social Factors:
A consumer’s behavior is also influenced by social factors, such as the consumer’s small groups, family, and social roles and status. Because these social factors can strongly affect consumer responses, companies must take them into account when designing their marketing strategies.
Groups - a person’s behavior is influenced by many small groups. Groups which have a direct influence and to which a person belongs are called membership groups. References groups are groups that serve as direct or indirect points of comparison or reference in the forming of a person’s attitudes or behavior. Marketers try to identify the reference groups of their target markets.
The importance of group influence varies across products and brands, but it tends to be strongest for conspicuous purchases.
Family - family members can strongly influence buyer behavior. We can distinguish between two families in the buyer’s life. The buyer’s parents make up the family of orientation. From parents a person acquires an orientation toward religion, politics, and economics and a sense of personal ambition, self-worth, and love.
The family of procreation-the buyer’s spouse and children-exert a more direct influence on everyday buying behavior. The family is the most important consumerbuying organization in society, and it has been researched extensively. Marketers are interested in the roles and relative influence of the husband, wife, and children on the purchase of a large variety of products and services.
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. Each role carries a status reflecting the general esteem given to it by society. Personal Factors:
A buyer’s decisions are also influenced by personal characteristics such as the buyer’s age and life-cycle stage, occupation, economic situation, life style, and personality and self-concept.
Age and Life-Cycle State - people change the goods and services they buy over their lifetimes. 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.
Occupation - a person’s occupation affects the goods and services bought. 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.
Economic Situation - a person’s economic situation will greatly affect product choice. Marketers of income-sensitive goods closely 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.
Life Style - people coming from the same subculture, social class, and even occupation may have quite different life styles. Life style is a person’s pattern of living as expressed in his or her activities, interests, and opinions. Life style captures something more than the person’s social class or personality. The life-style concept, when used carefully, can help the marketer gain an understanding of changing consumer values and how they affect buying behavior.
Personality and Self-Concept - each person’s distinct personality will influence 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. Many marketers use a concept related to personality-a person’s self-concept. Psychological Factors:
A person’s buying choices are also influenced by four major psychological factors - motivation, perception, learning, and beliefs and attitudes. Motivation - a person has many needs at any given time. Some needs are biological, arising from states of tension such as hunger, thirst, or discomfort. Other needs 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 aroused to a sufficient lever of intensity. A motive is a need that is sufficiently pressing to direct the person to seek satisfaction. Motivation researchers collect in-depth information from small samples of consumers to uncover the deeper motives for their product choices.
Perception - a motivated person is ready to act. How the person acts is influenced by his or her perception of the situation. Two people with the same motivation and in the same situation may act quite differently because they perceive the situation differently. 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 exposure, selective distortion, and selective retention. Learning - when people act, they learn.

Learning describes changes in an individual’s behavior arising from experience. The practical significance of learning theory of marketers is that they can build demand for a product by associating it with strong drives, using motivating cues, and to the same drives as competitors and providing similar cues because buyers are more likely to transfer loyalty to similar brands then to dissimilar ones. Or it may design its brand to appeal to a different set of drives and offer strong cue inducements to switch (discrimination). Beliefs and Attitudes - through acting and learning, people acquire their beliefs and attitudes. These in turn influence their buying behavior. A belief is a descriptive thought that a person has about something. Marketers are interested in the beliefs that people formulate about specific products and services. If some of the beliefs are wrong and prevent purchase, the marketer will want to launch a campaign to correct them. People have attitudes regarding religion, politics, clothes, music, food, and almost everything else. An attitude describes a person’s relatively consistent evaluations, feelings, and tendencies toward an object or idea. Attidudes put people into a frame of mind of liking or disliking things, moving toward or away from them.


Markets must be understood before marketing strategies can be developed. The consumer market buys goods and services for personal consumption. Consumers vary tremendously in age, income, education, tastes and other factors. Marketers must understand how consumers transform marketing and other inputs into buying responses. Consumer behavior is influenced by the buyer’s charakteristics and by the buyer’s decision process. Buyer charakteristics include four major factors: cultural, social, personal, and psychological. A person’s buying behavior is the result of the complex interplay of all these cultural, social, personal, and psychological factors. Many of these factors cannot be controlled by marketers, but they are useful in identifying and understanding the consumers that marketers are trying to influence.

Philip Kotler, Gary Armstrong - Principles of Marketing.

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