Understanding consumer behavior is an importantaspect of marketing. Consumer behaviour isthe study of how people make decisions about what they buy, want, need, or actin regards to a product, service, or company. It is imperative to understandconsumer behaviour to know how potential customers will respond to a newproduct or service. It also helps companies identify opportunities that are notcurrently met. A recent example of a change in consumer behaviour is the eatinghabits of consumers that dramatically increased the demand for gluten-free (GF)products.
The companies that monitored the change in eating patterns ofconsumers created GF products to fill a void in the marketplace. However, manycompanies did not monitor consumer behaviour and were left behind in releasingGF products. The most important purpose it serves is thedetermination of marketing mix variables which are product, price, place andpromotion (4P’s) and in addition to this there are three other variable whichare people, process and physical evidence which constitute the 7P’s.
All thesehelps in identifying the right target group and positioning aspects. Marketerwants to design and position his products in such a way that it serves one ofthe most important purpose- customer satisfaction. We understood that there arevarious factors responsible for the same which are categorized mainly into twocategories: Macro and Micro elements.Culture and socio-economic variables formthe macro indicators.
Consumer as an individual involves the psychologicalfactors like the involvement, motivation and perception. It is about the basicfeatures that the consumer expects from the product to fulfill his needs andrequirements. Other psychological factors also are there. Only these microfactors don’t only define buying behaviour of an individual.
These are alsotermed as micro influencers/elements. These are Motivation, Attitude,Perception and Learning (micro factors). Understanding the consumer behaviouris a multi- stage process where the marketer is faced with a lot of challengeswhich he needs to address. Each stage possesses the perspective of both theconsumer as well as the marketer. The entire process can be divided into threestages, namely: pre-purchase, purchase and the post-purchase stage. Thepre-purchase stage from the consumer’s perspective is about the decision that aconsumer has to make regarding the product whether or not to buy it and thevarious sources of information he has for the various product alternatives. Thepurchase stage is more about the buying experience of the consumer if it waspleasant or tiring.
The last stage is to identify whether or not the productwas able to serve the consumer’s needs that is to measure the consumersatisfaction. From the marketer’s side all these stages have a differentperspective. The first stage is about the consumer’s attitudes and how itchanges overtime for different products along with the various parameters andcues being used by them to judge a particular product’s superiority over itssubstitutes.
The purchase stage for them is more about the variations in buyingpattern with factors such as off season, peak hours and product positioning anddisplays. The last stage is about measuring the consumer satisfaction whichultimately indicates whether or not a consumer will buy the product again ornot.There are various factors that can influence aconsumer’s decision of choosing one product as superior to the other and henceit becomes important for the marketers to reach out to their target customersthrough the right medium.
These factors include the personal sources whichconsists of family friends and the neighbors who can influence the decisionbased on their prior biases or affinity towards a particular product. Thencomes the commercial sources which includes advertising, sales people,retailers and packaging. it can include techniques such as search engineoptimization (SEO) to influence or the new washing machine shaped packaging ofAriel detergent. It further includespublic sources such as newspapers, magazines, radio, television or consumerorganizations. The frequency of the advertisements can play a role in decisionmaking process of the consumer. Lastly, there can be a few experimental sourcessuch as handling, examination or the use of the product. The more the consumersearches for the product, more is the possibility of the product being a riskyone or maybe the consumer is too motivated.
Geographical sales of product mayvary, also it will vary for different economic status people and culture, percapita income, and other factors. Hence market must understand that thesefactors are an important for consideration before launching any new product tothe market. For example – people in north prefer tea over coffee but as whenmoving to south, coffee is preferred more over tea. Hence, it’s a systematicprocess make decision making from consumer angle. It has 5 processes.
NeedRecognition is the first step in consumer buying process. In this marketer hasto identify the situation under which the consumer is buying. Also identify whois buying and why is he buying. Information search is the second stage. In thisstage, consumer search for any external and internal information. Hencemarketer should identify how the consumer searches for the information. One ofthe examples of personal sources that are marketer dominated is sales personadvice in a retail store.
Then comes the evaluation of alternatives. Nowconsumer evaluates different products on particular scale of attributes whichis most important to him/her. How different attributes are compared for which amarketer must know the attributes of its product and the attitude of consumerstowards its brand Finally, during the purchase decision stage, the consumer mayform an intention to buy the most preferred brand or product. Hence in thisstage the consumer must decide the following: from whom he should buy, when tobuy, and whether to buy. The last stage, Post-purchase decision stage is whenthe customer assesses whether he is satisfied or dissatisfied with a purchase.Now a days, it is also relevant to hit the need recognition