Marketing is the entire process of researching customer needs and preferences, developing product and service solutions to match, and promoting the benefits to targeted customers. Understanding basic buyer behavior and the steps consumers follow in making purchase decisions helps significantly in developing effective marketing plans.
There are four main applications of consumer behavior:
The most obvious is for marketing strategy i.e., for making better marketing campaigns. For example, by understanding that consumers are more receptive to food advertising when they are hungry, we learn to schedule snack advertisements late in the afternoon. By understanding that new products are usually initially adopted by a few consumers and only spread later, and then only gradually, to the rest of the population, we learn that:-
- Companies that introduce new products must be well financed so that they can stay afloat until their products become a commercial success and
- It is important to please initial customers, since they will in turn influence many subsequent customers brand choices.
- A second application is public policy. In the 1980s, Accutane, a near miracle cure for acne, was introduced. Unfortunately, Accutane resulted in severe birth defects if taken by pregnant women. Although physicians were instructed to warn their female patients of this, a number still became pregnant while taking the drug. To get consumers’ attention, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) took the step of requiring that very graphic pictures of deformed babies be shown on the medicine containers.
- Social marketing involves getting ideas across to consumers rather than selling something. Marty Fishbein, a marketing professor, went on sabbatical to work for the Centers for Disease Control trying to reduce the incidence of transmission of diseases through illegal drug use. The best solution, obviously, would be if we could get illegal drug users to stop. This, however, was deemed to be infeasible. It was also determined that the practice of sharing needles was too ingrained in the drug culture to be stopped. As a result, using knowledge of consumer attitudes, Dr. Fishbein created a campaign that encouraged the cleaning of needles in bleach before sharing them, a goal that was believed to be more realistic.
As a final benefit, studying consumer behavior should make us better consumers. Common sense suggests, for example, that if you buy a 64 liquid ounce bottle of laundry detergent, you should pay less per ounce than if you bought two 32 ounce bottles. In practice, however, you often pay a size premium by buying the larger quantity. In other words, in this case, knowing this fact will sensitize you to the need to check the unit cost labels to determine if you are really getting a bargain.
A simplified framework for studying consumer behavior gives in detail the shaping of consumer behavior, which leads a consumer to react in certain ways and he makes a decision, keeping the situations in mind. The process of decision-making varies with the value of the product, the involvement of the buyer and the risk that is involved in deciding the product/service.
The figures shows the consumer life style in the centre of the circle. The consumer and his life style is influenced by a number of factors shown all around the consumer. These are culture, subculture, values, demographic factors, social status, reference groups, household and also the internal makeup of the consumer, which are a consumers’ emotions, personality motives of buying, perception and learning. Consumer is also influenced by the marketing activities and efforts of the marketer.
All these factors lead to the formation of attitudes and needs of the consumer.