Consumer Behaviour

Consumer behaviour studies depict the various stages that a potential or existing consumer goes through before choosing a certain product available to them in the market. A consumer is an individual who makes a conscious decision in regards to the purchase of a product, or service for personal use and whose choice can be influenced by advertising and marketing. This Chapter seeks to identify some of the key determinant of consumer buying behaviour, noting the staged decision process behind purchase actions - need/problem recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, product choice/purchase and post-purchase use/evaluation.

The Chapter also discusses the key factors that are likely to influence consumer behaviours. The can be categorised as cultural, considering the way in which individual and group values, preferences and behaviours are shaped. Social factors (how an individual will be influenced by their family and social groups they belong to or aspire to join) and personal factors (the age, occupation, economic condition, lifestyle or personality of an individual) also significantly affect purchasing decisions. This context provides the basis to consider broader psychological factors, whereby intrinsic/external motivators prompt consumers to identify a particular need. Examples of psychological drivers include hunger, thirst and the need for self-esteem.

The Chapter recognises that the consumer’s level of active engagement with the purchasing process will differ. There is low involvement associated with impulse buying and the acquisition of low-value regularly required products and services. High-involvement purchases are usually more risky, complex and more expensive and consumers engage in a comparison of the offerings of the market, taking into account product specifications, price, support, warranties etc. Where consumers already possess some prior knowledge, then their active involvement is more limited as they can build on their existing awareness and experience. Consumers will therefore spend less time researching the options available and reach a conclusion fairly quickly.

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The typical buying situations are also reviewed in the Chapter, noting that any new purchase requires distinct effort from the buyer. A straight rebuy is where consumers follow the pattern of previous purchases and considers the transaction to be a routine re-order from the same supplier. A modified rebuy is when a similar product is needed, but a change in specifications or supplier is deemed necessary (potentially due to dissatisfaction with the current product/services or a change in consumer circumstances). A new task is where the consumer needs to evaluate their requirements, study their options and make an informed purchase decision when they have no prior experience of the product/service. 

The Chapter closes with an examination of the models of buyer behaviour. These include economic aspects (considered particularly relevant when targeting consumers from lower income groups), although it is recognised that this presents a simplistic view which does not adequately consider psychological, social or motivational factors. The Learning model is discussed, noting how allowing consumers to explore their information seeking capacities can build brand reputation and increase consumer loyalty. Psychological (consumer personality and motivation) and sociological (group norms and pressures) models are also presented.


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