The Brand Selection and Factors Affecting Consumer Choices

Abstract

The consumer purchase decision is not made in a vacuum. There are a number of factors, which determine whether a person will purchase or not purchase a product or a brand. This paper gives an in-depth description of these factors, which can be cultural, social, personal, or psychological. Cultural factors include subcultures and social class, while social factors include the buyer’s small groups, family and social roles and status within the society. Personal factors include the buyer’s age and life cycle stage, occupation, economic situation, lifestyle, and personality and self-concept, while psychological factors include motivation perception, learning, and beliefs and attitudes. Among these factors, cultural factors are the most predominant. On the other hand, before a buyer makes a decision to purchase a product, he or she must go through the stages of predispositions, perceived need for a product, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase behavior, and post-purchase behavior. Buyers usually exhibit four different types of buying-decision making behaviors. These are complex buying behavior, dissonance-reducing buying behavior, habitual buying behavior, and variety-seeking buying behavior. The aim of this paper is to give an in-depth analysis of the relationship between brand selection and factors effecting consumer choices.

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Introduction

Possibly one of the major difficulties that a marketer encounters is the reason underlying the varied consumer choices. However, such knowledge is important in marketing because having adequate understanding of consumer behavior enables the marketer to meet the varied needs and requirements of the consumers. In addition, the knowledge helps to suggest the significant influences on the process of customer decision-making. With the aid of this knowledge, marketers can develop initiatives that they believe will be of benefit to the buyers. Factors affecting consumer choices are a little bit complicated. Consumer behavior is deep-rooted in psychology with dashes of sociology thrown in for the sake of making a decision whether he or she will make a purchase or not. In view of the fact that every person is different, it is not an easy task to develop simple tenets that describe how the purchase decision is arrived at. However, those who have spent many years scrutinizing buyer behavior have given us important principles in how a person makes a decision to buy or not buy a product or a brand. This paper describes the relationship between brand selection and factors affecting consumer choices.

Research problem

Consumers generally engage in the buying process in order to meet their varied needs and requirements. The research question to be addressed by this study is the following: what factors influence individual’s purchase making decision to buy or own a brand? The need to explore this research question arises from most marketing efforts that seldom emphasize on the reasons why individuals formulate their decision to purchase a particular brand and not the other. The dependent variable for this research is consumer behavior, while marketing efforts is the independent variable. The research hypothesis is that if marketing efforts is related to consumer behavior, then changing marketing efforts to suit the needs of the consumers can lead to increased sales.

Research methodology

The primary research was done by interviewing various consumers in order to understand their behavior. To achieve this, a questionnaire was developed and a focused interview carried out to give a complete and a detailed understanding of consumer behavior. An interview guide with topics that needed to be covered in the research was used. The targeted consumers differed significantly in cultural orientation, social traits, personal characteristics, and psychological characteristics. Secondary research was carried out by collecting data from books and the internet. Government publications were also used to collect information for the research as well as newspapers and various consumer magazines.

Research findings

Types of buying-decision making behaviors

Buying behavior differs significantly for camera, bread, and a computer. The buying behavior is based on the level of consumer involvement and the level of difference among brands. Complex buying behavior is characterized by situations when buyers are largely involved in the buying and perceive important variance between the brands; therefore, the buyer has a lot to learn about the product category before making a decision. This may be when the product is costly, dangerous, or purchased seasonally. Dissonance-reducing buying behavior takes place when buyers are largely involved in the purchase with a costly, seasonal, or uncertain purchase, but see small difference between brands, for example, a buyer purchasing a computer may face a high-involvement decision because the computer is costly. However, consumers may regard most computer brands in a given price range to be similar. In this situation, since the perceived brand differences are not so much high, consumers may move around to look for other similar products, and they may react due to a good price or buy at their own convenience. After buying the product, buyers might experience post purchase dissonance. Marketing efforts are usually aimed at countering such experiences.

Habitual buying behavior takes place in situations when there is minimal consumer involvement as well as minimal significant brand difference, for example, consumers have little involvement when purchasing salt since they simply select a preferred brand and purchase it. If they continue to use this brand, then it is because of habit and not a manifestation of a strong brand loyalty. Low involvement is exhibited in situations when a buyer purchases inexpensive and frequently used goods and services; therefore, In order to convince people to purchase these products, promotional efforts usually include high repetition of short-duration messages.

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Finally, variety-seeking buying behavior is characterized by minimal buyer involvement but significant perceived brand differences, and consumers do a lot of brand switching for the sake of variety rather than because of dissatisfaction, for instance, when purchasing biscuits, a buyer may be having some preconceptions, select a biscuit brand without proper analysis, and then carefully assess the brand on consumption. However, in the future, the buyer may choose a different brand of biscuits out of boredom or he or she may just want to experience something different. In such product categories, marketing efforts are always aimed at motivating habitual buying behavior. This is achieved by dominating shelf space and constantly advertising the competitive characteristics of the products. Competitor products will usually encourage variety seeking by carrying out promotions that emphasis on trying something new.

The consumer decision-making process

Behind the observable act of buying goods and services, a purchase decision-making process exists that should be examined. The purchase decision-making process depicts the steps that a consumer has to go through before making the final decision. End-users may skip or reduce some of the stages in the purchase decision-making based on the degree of involvement, personal, social, or economic importance of buying the product. The six stages are predispositions, perceived need for a product, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase behavior, and post-purchase behavior. The first stage concerns the predispositions that the consumer may be harboring. The prospective consumer usually has a reservoir of information concerning general or specific products. The buyer’s own personality, self-concept, attitudes or opinions are significant in determining if he or she will make the purchase. This stored information and past experiences has been formed over time due to interaction with the environment and influence his or her future purchase decisions.

At the second stage, the buyer develops a perceived need for a product by sensing a difference between his or her internal state and desired state. The urge to make a purchase is stimulated by internal or external stimuli. One or more of the consumer’s normal needs may be triggered to a level that it ends up becoming a drive. Sometimes the urge necessitates the consumer to buy on impulse without prior budget. An internal stimulus arises when, for example, a buyer becomes thirsty and hence needs a drink, or he or she may become hungry and require some food. This implies that a physiological need has necessitated an action because of the discomfort that the person may be feeling. On the other hand, external stimulus is beyond the control of someone. They can be due marketing efforts such as a television advertisement, magazine ad, or may be a radio slogan. After a consumer has developed a perceived need for a product or a service, he or she now engages in information search to learn more about the different brands that exist in the market. This stage in the consumer decision making depends on the amount and credibility of stored information and previous experiences, ease to maintain the gathered information, value that the consumer attaches to additional information, and the satisfaction the buyer gets from information search. The process of seeking for information may involve either internal search or external search of information. Internal search involves scanning one’s memory to remember past experiences with products or services, for example, someone may not buy a mango from the same grocery, if he or she bought it previously and found out it was rotten inside. Therefore, when previous experiences or knowledge is inadequate, the possibility of making a repeat purchase is low.

The primary sources of collecting external information can be either through personal sources, commercial sources, or through neutral sources. Personal sources come from interpersonal communication with friends and family. One may receive a word of advice from friends or seek for knowledge from opinion leaders. The personal sources are expensive but with high credibility and value particularly in making psychosocial risk, for example, a person may make a decision simply because his or mother said it is so. Commercial sources include all the information sources, which are under the control of the seller. These are advertising campaigns, promotion media materials, and consumer reports. Commercial sources are low in costs and credibility and they are not so much of assistance in finding psychosocial information. They are mainly used when the consumer discovers that the perceived risk is low or when the perceived risk is moderate and the outcome of the performance is uncertain. They are also used when the higher costs of using an alternative are not known. Neutral sources are generally outside the control of either the buyer or the seller. Their use depends on the nature of the product, characteristics of the consumer, and the characteristic risk the source has on the overall purchase decision.

In the next stage before making the final decision to make a purchase, the buyer evaluates all the available alternatives he or she may be having. The information obtained from the previous step assists the buyer to clarify and assess the alternatives under his or consideration. The buyer has an evaluative criterion, which refers to the specifications used by him or her to assess different products and brands. Since it is somewhat difficult to evaluate identical products, the characteristics of evaluative criteria depend on the relative importance and the strength of each product. In this stage, a buyer usually makes effort to solve his or her problem as well as meet his or her varied needs and requirements. This is to say that the consumer will be considering the problem –solving benefits he or she is to derive from the product once bought. The buyer then searches for products having a certain set of characteristics to satisfy his or her perceived need. In other words, the buyer perceives every product as a bundle of features with varying degrees of ability of meeting his or her requirements. The difference among the need, benefits, and characteristics are especially significant at this stage. The characteristics of the products are appropriate and significant only when a consumer can derive some benefits from them. Similarly, benefits are important when they can attend to the problem and be helpful in meeting the underlying needs and requirements of the customer. Since the underlying needs and requirements are most of the time personal, buyers have diverse opinions regarding their convictions about what product benefits and characteristics are more appropriate and significant in solving their problems.

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Founded on their varied personal convictions on the significance of benefits and characteristics, buyers usually develop a variety of likings toward the difference brands. A consumer may show his or her liking for a particular brand in relation to its ranking or probability of choice. The evaluation criterion is usually seen as cognitively driven and rational and it is either objective or subjective. Objective evaluation looks at the particular physical characteristics, for example, shape, form, color, prize, and durability of the product or the brand. Subjective evaluation refers to the symbolic value of product’s benefit. Subjective evaluation is misleading since it focuses on the prestige or the perceived usefulness of the product or the brand. Sometimes a prospective buyer may employ on one criterion, for example, purchase an orange because it is available, or he or she may combine more than a single criterion, for example, buy a tractor because of the price and consider the availability of spares.

The next stage in consumer decision-making process appertains to the actual final decision and physical activities that he or she undertakes to make or not make the purchase. It refers to the real transaction where the consumer exchanges the quality of his or her resources at hand such as money or labor for a quantity desired. In order to make the actual purchase, the buyer usually makes his or her own choice based on particular products (brands) and particular outlets (where to make the purchase). These decisions are arrived at in three different ways: at the same time, product first, followed by the outlet or outlet first, then followed by the product. In most occasions, buyers make decisions at the same time regarding both stores and brands. For instance, if a consumer wants to purchase a personal computer, he or she may choose a variety of brands according to the item’s technical aspects (characteristics) as well as availability of the brands in the computer stores and acquaintance with mail-order catalogs. It is also likely that he or she will make a decision on where to make the purchase, for example, CompUSA in his or her locality. After the consumer has made a decision concerning the brand and the outlet, the actual transaction then takes place.

However, it is worth noting that although the buyer makes a decision to purchase the product with the highest evaluation, this decision may be altered at the time of making the transaction. The “intended” purchase may change when the product is out of stock or when a competitor provides an incentive at the point-of-purchase, for example, when a store salesperson makes known to the buyer the better characteristics of the competitor products. The purchase may also change when the buyer realizes that he or she is not having adequate funds, for example, when the credit card is faulty, or when members of the consumer’s reference group take a disappointing view of the purchase. Marketers with desirable products should ensure that the buying process goes on without interference. For instance, online retailers have made considerable progress to make sure that they have repeat purchases through streamlining the checkout process. For marketers whose products are not likely to be chosen by the buyers, last chance marketing options may be considered. This may be in the form of providing incentives to store salesperson to “talk up” the benefits of their products at the checkout line.

The final stage in the buyer decision-making process is the post-purchase behavior that the consumer depicts. After making the purchase, the buyer relates it with his or her expectations and gets either satisfied or dissatisfied. The buyer is usually assumed to engage in the purchase of a product having more or less expectations of the possible performance of the product. The consumer therefore judges the product as exactly as accepted, noticeable, better than accepted, or noticeably worse than what was wanted. The satisfaction or dissatisfaction after the purchase influences the consumer value perceptions, consumer communications, and the possibility of repeat purchases. A satisfied consumer will say good things about the product to other potential buyers. Most companies strive to bring positive post-purchase communications that is necessary for the building of good relationships between the retailers and the consumers since the best advert that a company has is a satisfied customer. A dissatisfied consumer will either show unbehavioral response and do nothing about it or show behavioral response and take action against it. A dissatisfied consumer may take private action by boycotting the offending product or take public action. Public action, which may damage the image of the firm, is done by making efforts to get redress by contacting the seller to either change the price or substitute the purchased product. The consumer may also write a letter to the press or pursue legal address if all the other options fail to materialize. That is why most firms use ads or follow-up calls from salespersons to avoid causing any inconveniences to the buyers.

The degree of purchase involvement of the buyer is directly of essence in the stage of post-purchase evaluation process. Purchase involvement usually connotes the degree of concern or importance accorded to the buying process. It determines the intensity that the buyer employs in making a purchase decision. Even though purchase involvement is seen in terms of a continuum (from low to high), it is beneficial to look at two extreme situations: low purchase involvement situation and high purchase involvement situation. Suppose a person purchases a certain brand of a product such as a cola drink as a matter of habit. For the buyer, the product is a very low purchase involvement situation. Moreover, he or she may not be interested in searching and evaluating the product information in depth. In such a situation, the buyer may simply make the purchase, use and/or get rid of the cola drink without extensively evaluating it. He or she may continue to maintain a high level of repeat purchases even without motivation. On the other hand, a high-involvement purchase is usually expensive, has serious personal consequences, or reflects on the social image of a person. For example, if a client purchases a laptop from a distributor, he or she has more chances of getting involved in extensive post-purchase evaluation exercise. The questioning of the rightness of the decision made is a common reaction after making an intricate decision and it is referred to as post-purchase cognitive dissonance.

Studies have shown that possibility of experiencing this type of dissonance depends on the level of dedication or inevitability of the decision, the significance of the decision to the buyer, the complexity of making a choice between the set of available alternatives, and the tendency of the person to experience doubt and anxiety. The experience of worry and doubt usually makes buyers uncomfortable. Therefore, consumers can reduce it by improving the desirability of the brand bought, reducing the desirability of the rejected alternatives, reducing the significance of the purchase decision, and by rejecting the negative data about the brand bought. It is worth noting that if the dissonance concerning the purchase decision is not decreased, the anxiety may change into a general or a specific negative experience. Certainly, this dissatisfaction leads to a perceived need for a product, and the buyer will again enter into another decision making process. The disparity, however, is that during the next cycle of decision-making, the consumer may remember past unfulfilling experiences and use them in the stage of information search. Therefore, the possibility of selecting the unsatisfying product will be significantly reduced as compared to the earlier encounters.

Factors affecting consumer choices

Consumers generally engage in the buying process in order to meet their varied needs and requirements. A number of these needs are basic and must be fulfilled by every person in the world, for example, food, shelter and clothing. On the other hand, others are not necessary for basic survival and vary depending on the taste and preferences of an individual. Needs that are not very much essential are categorized as either wants or desires. In fact, in the developed world where the standard of living is exceptionally high, a significant portion of the people’s income is spent on purchasing the items that are not necessary for basic survival. It is also worth noting that the person who engages in the actual purchase activity may not necessarily be the end-user of the purchased product. This is because others may be involved in making the purchase decision besides the actual buyer. For instance, when arranging for a family holiday, the father may make reservations for a hotel whereas the other members of the family may contribute on the hotel of choice. Similarly, a mother may buy some sweets from the supermarket but his young daughter may be one who chooses them from the shelf. Therefore, the complete understanding of the customer buying behavior involves knowing how decisions are arrived at as well as knowing the different dynamics that affect purchases. There are many factors underlying the choices customers make before making the actual purchase. Customers do not engage in a purchase activity in a vacuum. Understanding the key influences on consumer behavior assists marketers to tailor their marketing efforts to take advantage of these influences. This enables them to satisfy the consumer and the marketer. These influences are not mutually exclusively since they are all interconnected to form the behavior of the customer.

Sources of influence on the consumer
Figure 1: Sources of influence on the consumer (University of Southern California).

Cultural factors

The buyer decision-making process is usually influenced by factors that are outside their control. However, the factors have a direct or an indirect effect on how people live and consume things. Cultural factors fall in this category. They are believed to be the broadest and the most significant influential factors affecting the purchase decision of a consumer. Culture is one of the most fundamental determinants of an individual’s needs and ultimate behavior (Rex Book Store, 79). While lower creatures are largely governed by instinct, human behavior is largely learned; therefore, it implies that a kid growing up in the society is being educated on various elements of values, perceptions, preferences, and behaviors whereby the child learns these attributes through interaction with the family as well as with other key institutions.

Cultural influences on purchase decision-making differ from one person to the other and from one region to the other. Some individuals, for instance, would rather choose to go for vacation oversees while others would prefer domestic vacation; toilet paper may be a necessity for the city dwellers while it can be a curious thing for the mountain people. The majority of human societies show social stratification, which takes the form of social classes and they exhibit different product and brand preferences, for example, the lower income classes like Komiks whereas magazines and newspapers is the favorite of most of the middle and higher income people. Values of most people are largely affected by their cultural surrounding. A child who lives in the U.S., for example, is exposed to the values of achievement and success, progress, efficiency and practicability whereas a Filipino child is exposed to the values of hiya, social acceptance, and good interpersonal relationship.

Cultural factors have significant marketing implications. A major aspect of building the relationship between the customer and the seller involves the use of cultural representations, particularly during promotional appeals. The aim of this strategy is to link the customers using cultural references. These are often easily understood and are more appealing to the customers. By practicing this important strategy, the seller hopes to connect faster with the buyer. This is because the buyer is able to relate the attributes of the product with the cultural values of the customer. In addition, competent sellers use tough research efforts in order to understand the behavior of the sub-culture. These efforts are usually beneficial since they identify differences within the sub-culture, which they can lay more emphasis on by implementing innovative marketing strategies such as new brands or new distribution channels. Marketers are constantly looking for cultural shifts to enable them develop new products that may be needed by the consumers. For instance, the cultural shift that is currently drawing a lot of concern for the benefits of health and fitness has generated a large market for heath and fitness services, and the shift toward informality has led to more demand for clothing and less elaborate home furnishings.

Subcultures

Subcultures refer to “groups of people with shared value systems based on common life experiences and situations, and they include nationalities, religions, racial groups, and geographic regions, age, and sex “(Kotler and Armstrong, 180). Several subcultures constitute essential market segments. Marketers usually develop products based on the needs of these sizable and natural market segments. In undertaking an evaluation, smart marketers most often seek to find out the necessity of implementing certain strategies in these segments. These are based on the beliefs, values, and customs shared by a particular subgroup. Subcultures, for that reason, are important elements in carrying out an evaluation of the market in order to satisfy the needs of the consumers. Additionally, these subcultures are dynamic, for instance, the ethnic communities that make up the American population have been altering and this process may continue for a number of years to come. An illustration of this is the white (non-Hispanic) Americans, who formed seventy-one percent of the entire American population a decade ago, but is projected to constitute about fifty-three percent of the population by the mid of this century. Moreover, the cultural profile of a society is composed of two unique aspects. These are the unique beliefs, values, and customs adhered to by members of particular sub-cultures, and the key cultural themes that are shared by the majority of the population, in spite of specific sub-cultural memberships.

Nationality subculture is the first category of subcultures. For most individuals, nationality forms a significant ingredient that determines their value and the things they intend to purchase. This situation is depicted in a nation such as the U.S., which is known for attracting individuals from all around the world. Individuals usually harbor a strong ancestral pride in the way they carry out various activities. When it comes to making a purchase decision, this strong sense of identification and pride in the languages and customs of their ancestors is depicted mostly in the purchase of ethnic foods, in making a trip to the “homeland,” and in buying traditional items. The young population is developing an increased interest in these goods and services as they try to find out their ethnic roots. The Hispanic American sub-culture demonstrates the significance of ethnic origin as a sub-cultural market segment. The American Hispanic market has for a long time been targeted by most marketing efforts since they buy more than $425 billion worth of goods and services every year, and this figure rises by about twenty-five percent every year. According to Schiffman, the Hispanic American Market “prefer well-known or familiar brands, tend to be impulse buyers, likely to buy what their parents bought, and generally tend to be negative about marketing practices and government intervention in business” (441). Therefore, in order to reach the market with products such as food, beverages, and household care products, most marketers now tailor the products to meet their needs and advertise them using the Spanish-language.

The next category of subcultures is the religious subcultures. The world is composed of several religious affiliations such as the Roman Catholicism, Protestant denominations, and Judaism. The adherents of these faiths are more likely to engage in a purchase making decision affected by their religious identity. In most times, the buyer purchase making decision is directly influenced by their religious identity in terms of items, which are symbolically and ritualistically related with the celebration of different religious holidays, for instance, the celebration of Christmas has become a major season of the year for giving gifts. Religious obligations or norms may have more meaning than even the intended purpose. As an example, strict dietary requirements for a Jewish family will make them look for the U and K signs on the package of the food to ascertain that the product conforms to their dietary requirements. Nevertheless, for the non-Jews these symbols indicate that the product is pure and wholesome.

Geographic and regional subcultures affect the consumer behavior because of the vastness of our world that makes people have a sense of regional identification to various products and brands. That is why marketers often provide labels on the packaging of most products on regional basis to enable consumers develop a mental picture and supporting information of the product in question. Throughout the world, there are significant regional differences in consumption behavior of most people, particularly when it comes to staple food and drink. For instance, across the U.S. alone, soft white bread is the favorite among the people in the South and Midwest, while on the East and West coasts, most people consume firmer breads. It has also been suggested that geographic and regional differences contribute to differences in brand preferences (Schiffman and Kanuk, 446). For example, Skippy is the most preferred peanut brand on both the East and West coasts of America, whereas Peter Pan is the most favored in the South. Moreover, for a number of food groupings, there is inter-state variance within the same region of the nation, for example, about twenty-seven percent of the people living in Alabama prefer to have pecan pie during their Thanksgiving dessert as compared to only nine percent of Georgians who feel the same. Consumer research investigations have discovered regional variances in consumption patterns of most people associated with product purchase, ownership, or levels of usage. For example, most residents of San Francisco prefer online shopping. Therefore, it is essential for marketers to consider geographic and regional factors in planning for promotional efforts.

Different races, for example, the African- American consumers and Asian- American consumers have distinct cultural inclinations and attitudes. Asian-American consumers are increasingly being targeted by marketing efforts. This is because their population is increasing as well as their disposable income. That is why companies like Wal-Mart have developed products to meet the needs of this growing market. The African-American consumers in the United States are also increasing in influence and sophistication since they are ranked among the top fifteen heavy spenders in the world. This market segment is more sensitive to change in prices, heavily encouraged by quality and selection, place more emphasis on brand names, exhibit brand loyalty, and engage in purchasing only after making plans for it. Recently, several firms have tailor made their products and services to satisfy the requirements of this market segment, for example, Hallmark improved its Afrocentric brand to cater for this need. A wide variety of marketing efforts are now aimed at reaching the blacks in the virtual communities since it has been observed that they use this internet service more than the whites do. Moreover, as the population of the world is increasing, marketers are improving their products and services to reach the attractive mature consumers. The mature consumers are more financially stable and have more time to engage in a purchasing activity than the younger consumer groups; therefore, they are the ideal market for exotic travel and leisure goods and services. The mature consumers wish that they were young, hence there are mostly targeted with products that impair the effects of aging and appeal to their active, multidimensional lifestyle.

Social class

Social classes refers to “the society’s relatively permanent and ordered divisions whose members share similar values, interests, and behaviors” (Kolter and Armstrong, 183). Social class is not established based on a single factor such as income. However, it is assessed as a combination of occupation, earnings, level of education, affluence, among other factors. In a number of class systems in the world, for example, the Indian caste system, members of particular classes are encouraged to stick to their set responsibilities without making amendments for life. On the other hand, in some countries like the U.S., the lines between social classes are not fixed and a person is free shift to either a lower or a higher social class system. Marketing efforts are often concerned with the social class system given that individuals falling in a given social class are likely to show the same purchase making decision. Every social class exhibits a distinct product and brand preferences, which identifies it by a common set of values and characteristics. These are in areas such as clothing, recreation, home equipment, and vehicles. For example, if consumer wants to purchase a camera from a store, his or her social class will influence his or her final decision to either purchase or not the product. If the consumer has a higher social class background, he or she may make the decision by probably considering his or her experiences with photography at home. Therefore, marketers often customize their products and brands to cater for the difference in the social classes (Tamminga, para.6). The marketing message is often tailored to have the maximum impact within the targeted market.

Social factors

Social factors also affect the buyer decision-making process. These include the buyer’s small groups, family and social roles and status within the society. Social factors play a significant role in consumer decision-making process because most people, except the hermits, interact with other persons every day. Many small groups affect the purchasing behavior of a consumer. Groups that directly affect the consumer behavior are referred to as membership groups whereas reference groups refer function as direct (face-to-face) or indirect points of comparison in developing the behavior of an individual. Reference groups to which they are not members usually affect the behavior most individuals, for example, an aspirational group refers to a group to which a person wishes to be a member, as in the case when a young person wishes to be one of the key players of Manchester United football club. Most marketing efforts are aimed at identification of the reference groups within the target market since they expose an individual to new behaviors and lifestyles and they also affect the attitudes and self-concept of an individual as well as form pressures to conform, which might ultimately influence an individual’s product and brand preferences.

Producers of products and brands subjected to strong group influence must develop strategic ways of convincing opinion leaders to maintain the lead within the market. Opinion leaders refer to “people within a reference group who, because of special skills, knowledge, personality, or other characteristics, exert influence on others” (Kotler and Armstrong, 184). Most marketing efforts are aimed at identifying opinion leaders in order to maintain the competitive edge within the marketplace. For instance, changes in music, language, and lifestyle in young people usually commence in the major cities before being embraced by the more mainstream youth in the suburbs. Therefore, manufacturers of clothes who wish to reach these young people must endeavor to identify the behavior of opinion leaders within the major cities. In other circumstances, marketers may use strategies such as buzz marketing where they recruit or even create their own opinion leaders to advertise the unique benefits of their products or brands. The significance of group influence is not the same for every product or brand and it is more likely to be strongest in cases when the product is more visible to the people whom the consumer esteems. Buyers of products, which are purchased and consumed in secret, are less likely to be influenced by others. This is because the purchases are made without the worry that the buyer will be noticed. For example, if a person purchases a camera, other people whom he or she esteems will notice both the item and the brand. Moreover, the decision to purchase the product and the brand choice preferred might have been affected largely by some of his or her groups, for example, his or her counterparts in the photography club.

Family

Family members play a pivotal role in the consumer purchase making decision. The family unit is very significant and the responsibilities of the husband, wife, and children in the purchase decision have been studied at length. Husband-wife involvement differs extensively in terms of the choice of the product to be bought and the phase in the decision making process. Within the family, the responsibility to purchase has been changing based on lifestyle changes of the modern world. In most homesteads, the wife has always been endowed with the responsibility of making purchases for the family. This is particularly in the areas of food, household products, and clothing. However, since most modern women are employed outside the home and the husbands are more willing to share purchasing responsibilities, the traditional trend is changing quickly. For instance, currently wives contribute to up to eighty percent of decisions to purchase a car within the household and husbands account for forty percent of the buying of food. Such transformations within the family set up has made marketers, who have been targeting wives only or husbands only with their products, to think about ways of reaching the opposite sex. For instance, recent studies have discovered that wives make or influence almost half of all hardware store purchases. This findings have made some home improvement retailers such as Home Depot to transform their warehouses to be female-friendly to attract more female buyers. These home improvement retailers have improved their outlets by adding decorator design centers at the center of the stores, running ads that target women customers, and offering bridal registries. Children, referred to as “back-seat consumers,” might also have a say in the purchase decision making of the family. For instance, six-year old kids may affect the decision of the family to buy a car since at that age; they know the names of most cars. They see these cars being advertised on the television and in turn develop interest on them; hence, they play a tie-breaking role in deciding which vehicle their parents should buy.

Roles and status

Every person is a member of many groups. These include the family, clubs, and organizations. The position of the individual in every group can be stated with respect to his or role and status within the particular group. For example, a male consumer plays the role of a son to his parents; in his family, he plays the role of a husband; in his company; he serves as the brand manager. A role refers to duties a person is expected to undertake in accordance with the expectations of the people around him or her. Every role that a person has affects his or her purchasing behavior. Every role carries a status that relates to the general respect accorded to the person in the society. That is why most individuals select products that reflect their status within the society. As is illustrated in the example above, the role of a brand manager is endowed with more status in the society than the role of a son; hence, as a brand manager, the consumer will purchase the type of clothing that shows his or her status in the society.

Selected consumer-related reference groups

As already stated, a wide range of individuals whom they establish close contacts with affects the behavior of the buyers, and the family is possibly the most compelling reference group in the purchase decision-making process. In addition, other reference groups exist that gives an overview of the types of influences that contribute to the characteristics and the behavior of the buyers. These are “friendship groups, shopping groups, work groups, virtual groups or communities, and consumer action groups” (Schiffman and Kanuk, 334).Friendship groups are usually categorized under informal groups. This is because they often have inadequate structures and are devoid of specific levels of authority. The friends of a person come second, after his or her family, in relation to the level of influence exerted on the products to be bought. Friends accomplish a diverse range of needs; therefore, most individuals are always looking forward to having fruitful friendships. Friendships, as a symbol of maturity and independence, offer companionship, security, and an occasion of talking about difficulties encountered in life. They also signify a breaking away from the family bonds and establishing other connections with the outside world. The views and inclinations of friends affects to a larger extent the ultimate product choice of an individual. Marketers of a wide range of consumer products are aware of this fact and they usually portray friendship conditions in their advertisements.

Shopping group refers to two or more individuals who are either window-shopping or are engaging in an actual shopping spree. Shopping groups are usually offshoots of family or friendship groups. Consequently, they are called purchase pals. The drive for group purchasing arises from either social motivation or the desire to avoid the possibilities of making a wrong purchase decision. In situations where none of the purchase pals has adequate knowledge of the product in question, a shopping group may be created for defensive reasons. This is because members might be more confident with a collective decision than a personal one. An exceptional type of a shopping group is the in-house shopping party. This “party” is usually made up of a group that comes for the event in the home of one of the purchase pals. The event is aimed at demonstrating and assessing a particular line of products. This strategy helps marketers in displaying the unique attributes of their products at the same time to a large number of potential consumers. Early buyers often create a bandwagon effect, which makes other people in the house, who were not yet decided, to buy the products. In addition, some of the visitors may feel obliged to purchase because they are in the house of their friend.

Work groups also affect the consumer decision-making process. This is attributed to the large amount of time that individuals spend at the places of work, usually an average of forty hours per week. Both the formal work group and the informal friendship work group are able to affect the buyer decision-making process since they provide ample opportunity for interactions with each other. The formal work group is made up of people who work together as component of a team, and therefore have adequate time to contribute to the purchase behavior of each one of them whereas the informal friendship work group is made up of people who have developed friendship with one another because of working for the same organization. These groups may contribute to the consumption behavior of its members mainly during tea or lunch breaks, or at social gatherings organized by their employer(s). Recognition of the role of work groups in purchase decision making has made most manufacturers to change their marketing strategies. Some sales representatives, who previously had sold their products solely by making direct calls to homes, now focus their efforts towards reaching people at their places of work.

Virtual groups or communities have emerged due to the increased use of computers and the Web. Most people now log onto the internet just to visit chat rooms where they are connected to other persons whom their share common interests. Geographic proximity is currently not a limit to communication. Internet consumer groups are referred to as “virtual communities” and they offer their members with a wide range of information covering many topics (De Mooij, 3). These communities provide the opportunity for a marketer to tailor his or her products to meet the common needs of these consumers since the exchange of information that occurs within the virtual community can make an innovative product sell faster. The consumer action groups are currently in existence and are devoted towards upholding the rights of the consumers. The groups strive to add value to the lives of consumers by giving them support that ensures that they make the correct purchase decision. Consumer action groups are separated into two broad categories: “(1) those that organize to correct a specific consumer abuse and then disband and (2) those that organize to address broader, more pervasive problem areas and operate over an extended or indefinite period of time” (Schiffman and Kanuk, 337). In general, the aim of consumer action groups is to prevent malpractices done to the consumers.

Personal factors

Personal factors are another category of factors that affect the behavior of buyers. These include “the buyer’s age and life cycle stage, occupation, economic situation, lifestyle, and personality and self-concept” (Kotler and Armstrong, 186).

Age and life cycle stage

Age and life cycle stage refers to the aspect that individuals usually alter their consumption habits over their lifetimes. Preferences for goods and services are usually associated with the age of the person. Purchase decision is also influenced by the stage in the family life cycle, which refers to the phases through which families may surpass as they develop over time (“Personal factors affecting buying behaviors,” para.1). Firms usually identify their target markets in relation to life cycle stage. They then come up with innovative products and services that meet the needs of every particular stage. Conventional family life cycle phases consisted of either young singles or the married people having children. Currently, however, marketing efforts are aimed at meeting the varied needs of the increasing non-conventional phases. These include unmarried couples, cohabiting young people, families with no children, gay couples, single parents, and families with mature children returning home. For instance, an increasing number of firms are reaching out to meet the needs of the fast-growing divorcees. Sony, for example, recently changed its marketing strategies to target customers with purchases based on their life stages by creating a new unit referred to as Consumer Segment Marketing Division. The approach has identified seven life-stage segments. The company aims to form brand loyalty as early in the life stage as possible and to develop long-term relationships with its customers.

Occupation

The occupation of an individual influences the type of products he or she purchases. A blue-collar employee, for instance, usually purchases more rugged work clothes, while a manager of a company usually purchases more official business suits. Marketing efforts are often aimed at identification of the different occupational groups and then making appropriate products to meet their needs. Therefore, a computer software firm will make a wide range of products to meet the needs of the different occupational groups that uses its products.

Economic situation

In addition, an individual’s economic condition is able to influence his or her consumption behavior. For example, a person may consider purchasing an expensive brand of a camera if he or she has adequate amount of money to spend and save. Companies manufacturing products and brands that are sensitive to economic changes always watch for trends in people’s disposable income, savings, and borrowing power. In occasions of economic depression, companies usually take drastic measures to redesign, reposition, and change the prices of their goods and services based on the income changes of people.

Lifestyle

The lifestyle of a person affects his or her consumption behavior. According to Kotler and Armstrong, lifestyle, which is associated with more than an individual’s class or personality, refers to an individual’s pattern of living as depicted in his or her psychographics (188). Lifestyle entails computing a person’s AIO dimensions. These are the person’s “activities (work, hobbies, shopping, sports, social events), interests (food, fashion, family, recreation) and opinions (about themselves, social issues, business, products)” (Kotler and Armstrong, 188). The lifestyle of the consumers is a major consideration in marketing since it depicts the way an individual handles himself or herself in the world. Many research organizations have come up with lifestyle classifications, but the most commonly used is referred to as the SRI Consulting’s Values and Lifestyles (VALS) typology. The lifestyle classification categorizes individuals based on how they make use of their time and money. VALS separates buyers into two major groups according to two main dimensions. These are self-orientation and availability of resources. Self-orientation groups include “principle-oriented consumers who buy based on their views of the world; status-oriented buyers who base their purchases on the actions and opinions of others; and action-oriented buyers who are driven by their desire for activity, variety and risk taking” (Kotler and Armstrong, 188). Buyers that fall within every orientation are additionally categorized into those having adequate resources and those having inadequate resources. These are based on their economic condition, level of education, wellbeing, self-assurance, and other influences. In the classifications, actualizers refer to individuals having very high quantities of resources. These individuals can therefore engage in any or all self-orientations. In direct contrast, strugglers refer to individuals with very low levels of resources. They cannot be categorized in any consumer orientation.

Iron City Beer Company was recently struggling to meet the changing needs of its consumers. However, it witnessed remarkable progress when it adopted VALS to assist it in updating its lost image and improve its returns. The company did a VALS research to understand the behavior of its customers. The study interviewed different groups of people based on the amounts of beer they drink per day. Those interviewed depicted the people taking Iron City brand as blue-collar steelworkers dropping at a local bar to take a drink. On the other hand, the men interviewed saw themselves as industrious, more current, and pleasure loving and rejected the out-dated products of the company and its heavy-industry image. According to these revelations, the company embarked on major promotional strategies to restore its lost image. Consequently, within one month, the company recorded an increase of twenty-six percent in sales. Lifestyle segmentation has also been employed in comprehending the behavior of the consumers on the Web. Forrester created a framework that divides individuals into ten groups based on their enthusiasm, aspiration, and capability to spend in technology related materials. Marketers often develop products and services to meet the needs of the various market segments. The classification of consumers based on lifestyle is not universal. The standards differ significantly as one move from one geographic location to the other. When properly adopted, the lifestyle concept can be of great benefit to companies since it enables them to comprehend the transforming values of customers as well as how they influence the consumption habits of the buyers.

Personality and self-concept

Every individual in the world has a distinct personality, which affects his or her consumption habit. Personality refers to “the unique psychological characteristics that lead to relatively consistent and lasting responses to one own environment, and it is described in terms of traits such as self-confidence, dominance, sociability, autonomy, defensiveness, adaptability, and aggressiveness” (Kotler and Armstrong, 190). Personality is of great benefit especially when assessing customer behavior concerning particular products or brand choices, for instance, coffee marketers have found out that customers mainly take coffee during social occasions; therefore, the coffeehouses usually create a surrounding whereby individuals can have a peace of mind and socialize over a cup of steaming coffee. The underlying concept here is that brands also have personalities. Thus, customers usually select brands, which resemble their personalities. A brand personality refers to the particular combination of human traits, which might be related to a specific type of brand and makes the customer to feel contented after making the purchase. A recent study discovered five brand personality traits: “sincerity (down-to-earth, honest, wholesome, and cheerful), excitement (daring, spirited, imaginative, and up-to-date), competence (reliable, intelligent, and successful, sophistication (upper class and charming) and ruggedness (outdoorsy and tough)” (“Brand personality dimensions,” para. 3). The study discovered that most renowned brands are connected with one specific trait. For example, CNN is connected with “competence” whereas MTV is connected with “excitement.”Therefore, these brands will probably catch the attention of individuals who have the same personality characteristics.

Most marketing efforts employ a concept associated to personality referred to as an individual’s self-concept or self-image, which suggests that a person’s possessions is a major contributor to and is a show of his or her identity. Therefore, for a marketer to come to terms with the purchase decision-making, he or she is obliged to start by appreciating the connection between consumer self-concept and possessions. In other words, it is essential for marketers to understand that buyers carry out purchase activities to aid their self-concept. Adopting appropriate research methods to discover how consumers view themselves is an important strategy in effective marketing. This is because it may give revelations about goods and services as well as promotional options that were not readily noticeable. For instance, in assessing customers, a marketer may start by developing initiatives around more common attributes on consumption habits. These may include buyers’ demographic indicators such as age, sex, and economic status. Nevertheless, comprehensive analysis may reveal other significant details. There research may discover that customers are buying products to satisfy their self-concept goals. This is not very much related to the demographic category they fall into, for example, aged consumers may be buying products, which enables them to feel much younger. That is why appealing to the buyer’s self-concept needs is able to increase the returns of a company (“Internal Influences: Personality,” para.2).

Psychological factors

Psychological factors affect the purchasing behavior of an individual. These factors include “motivation perception, learning, and beliefs and attitudes” (“Consumer behavior”, para.26).

Motivation

Why does a person become interested in buying a particular product or a brand? What needs does the shopper seek to fulfill? Every individual has a wide range of needs that requires satisfaction. Some of these needs are biological, which are associated with inner conditions of tension, for example, desire for food and thirst; while others are psychological that are associated with the need for appreciation, respect, and a sense of belonging. A need develops into a motive when it is stirred to an adequate degree of intensity, and a motive (or drive) generally refers to a need that is adequately pressing to make the individual look for ways of meeting the need. Psychologists have come up with a number of different suggestions that illustrate the concept of human motivation. The theories postulated by Sigmund Freud and Abraham Maslow are the most common. However, they have very different interpretations of consumer behavior and marketing. Sigmund Feud presupposed that individuals are largely not aware of the actual psychological factors influencing their habits, and he viewed an individual on the process of growth while suppressing several urges. These urges are never eradicated in ones life. Alternatively, under perfect control, they come into view when the person is dreaming, in a number of obsessive circumstances, or eventually in psychoses. Therefore, the psychologist theorized that an individual is unconscious of his or her motivation. If a person desires an costly camera, he or she may express his or her motive as wanting a hobby or a career; however, he or she may be buying the device to make an impression about his or her creative talent. At a deeper level, the person may be purchasing the device to feel young and independent once more.

Motivation research is usually carried out to investigate customers’ hidden, subconscious motivations in order to analyze the motives underlying their product choices. Several firms provide work for psychologists, anthropologists, and other social scientists to undertake this study by the use of methods such as completion of sentences, word association, and giving cartoon interpretation tests to buyers. Moreover, some organizations carry out one-on-one interactions with customers to penetrate into their inner workings, others ask customers to describe their preferred products as animals to evaluate the luxury associated with the particular product, while other organizations asks customers to draw figures of typical brand users.

Abraham Maslow carried out investigations to elucidate why individuals are driven by specific needs at specific occasions. He sought to understand the difference in the behavior of people such as the reason why one individual may use many resources on personal safety whereas the other individual use the same amount of resources to gain the respect of others. He found out that the needs of every person are arranged in hierarchical manner. This arrangement is from the most pressing need at the bottom of the chart to the least pressing at the top, and they include psychological needs, safety needs, social needs, esteem needs, as well as self-actualization needs, which are to be met according to the level of importance. After meeting that particular need, it will no longer be a motivator and the individual will then make efforts to meet the next pressing need. As an example, an individual who is hungry (psychological need) may not be concerned about the events taking place in the art world (self-actualization needs). He or she may not be equally concerned on how other people respects him or her (social or esteem needs). Moreover, whether other people are breathing clean air or not (safety needs) may not concern the starving individual. However, as each pressing need is met, the subsequent most pressing need come into focus. In the case which was described above about a person wanting to purchase a camera, it can be assumed that the person has successfully met his or psychological, safety, and social needs since these factors do not drive him or her to purchase the device. The interest to purchase the device may be attributed to a strong need to gain the respect of others, or a need for self-actualization as he or she may desire to show his or her skills and to express him or herself by means of photography.

Perception

A motivated individual is prepared for any action. The perception of the individual to the circumstance affects the action that he or she will take. As much as every person learn the flow of information by the use of the five senses, the reception, organization, and interpretation of this information is done on an individual basis. Perception refers to “the process by which people select, organize, and interpret information to form a meaningful picture of the world around them” (Kotler and Armstrong, 193).Individuals are able to create different perceptions regarding the same stimulus. This is because of three perceptual processes referred to as “selective attention, selective distortion, and selective retention” (Citeman Network). On a daily basis, individuals are exposed to a large quantity of stimuli, for instance, it has been approximated that individuals are exposed to approximately 1,500 advertisements per day. Therefore, it is not possible for an individual to pay attention to all these distractions. Selective attention refers to the process of selecting the most important information from a wide range of other information that a person may be exposed to. This implies that marketing efforts must be tailored in such a way that the attraction of the attention of the consumer is achieved. The actual difficulty is to elucidate which particular stimuli customers will find appealing and get attracted to first. However, it has been discovered that the possibility of individuals getting attracted to a stimuli is higher if it relates to a current need. For instance, an individual who is motivated to purchase a laptop will observe a laptop being advertised and he or she will not necessarily pay attention to DVD advertisements. It has also been discovered that individuals are expected to pay attention to stimuli that they have been looking forward to. A person is more likely to pay attention to a laptop than a television set in a computer shop since he or she hardly anticipates for the shop to have television sets. Moreover, individuals are more likely to pay attention to an ad, which has large deviations in relation to its normal size, for example, a buyer is more likely to pay attention to an ad offering a discount of $50 on a laptop as compared to one offering only $5. Even though consumers categorically select the most beneficial stimuli, they are affected by unanticipated stimuli, for example, abrupt offers by an agent promoting a particular product. Some marketers make efforts to advertise for the benefits of their products by circumventing the selective attention filters.

Since every individual fits incoming information into an already pre-conceived mindset, not every stimulus receives the projected interpretation in the same way. The concept of selective distortion refers to the propensity of consumers to distort sent information in order to be consistent with their own preconceptions about the product or the brand. The effect caused by preconceptions is evident when customers have diverse viewpoints regarding branded and unbranded versions of similar products. Experiences often alter a person’s perception about a product. Selective distortion is able to benefit marketing efforts of strong brands. This can work especially when customers twist impartial or unclear brand information to make it more encouraging. A bottle of beer may seem to taste much better or the long queue in the bank may become bearable. Selective distortion implies that marketers should attempt to comprehend preconceptions of the end-users. The effect of these on interpretations of ads should also be carefully evaluated. Individuals will not be able memorize all the information they are exposed to. However, most individuals will tend to memorize all the relevant information that does not conflict with their attitudes and beliefs. The concept of selective retention implies that buyers are likely to retain all the information about a product or a brand that they prefer and fail to register much information about the less preferred product or brand. This concept is very much beneficial for strong brands. It also points out the reason why marketers should make concerted efforts to use repetition during promotions to ensure that their message gets to the attention of the intended consumers.

The process of selective perception obliges the buyers to be fully engaged in for them not to be influenced by advertisements without even recognizing it. The concept of subliminal perception has been a major research topic in marketing for a number of years. The argument is that marketers entrench concealed, subliminal messages in advertisements to manipulate the consumers into buying their products. Buyers are unconscious of these ads or packages, but they influence their purchasing behavior. Several investigations by marketing researchers have failed to find the association between subliminal behavior and purchasing activity; therefore, it seems that the practice of subliminal messaging does not bring the results advocated by its opponents.

Learning

When individuals act, they learn new ways of doing things. Learning describes “the changes in an individual’s behavior arising from experience, and it occurs through the interplay of drives, stimuli, cues, responses, and reinforcement, which affect a person’s behavior” (Kotler and Armstrong, 195). In the example given earlier, the customer had a drive for self-actualization (a drive depicts a strong internal stimulus that requires an action), and the drive translates into a motive when it is channeled in the direction of a certain stimulus object, in this instance a camera. The customer’s reaction to the notion of purchasing the device is conditioned by the surrounding cues (cues are slight stimuli, which establish when, where, and how the individual will react). Observing well-displayed cameras in a store, getting to know from a friend about the reduction in price of the camera, and receiving the support of his or her family members are all cues that are able to affect the customer’s reaction to his or her interest of purchasing the device. If we assume that the customer purchases the Nikon brand, and if he or she has a rewarding experience with the camera, he or she will not stop using the device. The customer’s reaction to cameras will be reinforced; therefore, if he or she wants to purchase similar products in the future, the chances are high that the Nikon brand will be his or her most preferred choice of brand. The learning theory is as an important aspect for marketers. This is because by using the theory, they are able to develop demand for a product through connecting it with strong drives, employing encouraging cues, and offering a more rewarding reinforcement experience to the customers.

Beliefs and attitudes

By means of action and learning, individuals get different beliefs and attitudes, which consequently affect their consumption behavior. A belief refers “to the descriptive thought that a person has about something” (Kotler and Armstrong, 196). A person may hold the belief that the Nikon brand of cameras is the best in the market and that no any other brand is able to compete with it in taking quality pictures. This belief maybe due to acquired knowledge, attitude, or conviction, and might or might not have an emotional charge associated with it. For instance, if the consumer held the belief that a Nikon camera is weighty might or might not influence his or her final decision to purchase or not purchase the device. Marketers take huge interest in the beliefs that individuals harbor regarding particular goods and services. This is because these beliefs give yield to product and brand images that influence the buying behavior of consumers. If a section of the beliefs are not correct and thwart smooth buying activities, marketing efforts are then changed to address this issue. Individuals have different attitudes concerning almost everything found on this world. Attitude refers “to a person’s relatively consistent evaluations, feelings, and tendencies toward an object or idea, and they put people into a frame of mind of liking or disliking things, of moving toward or away from them” (Kotler and Armstrong, 196). Therefore, a consumer may hold such attitudes as “Purchase the best design in the market,” and the consumer will buy the product if it fits well into his or her existing attitudes. Attitudes are not easy to alter. An individual’s attitudes fit into an already established plan. The process of changing the attitude of someone may need complex adjustments to be carried out. Therefore, marketing efforts should aim at fitting the products into already established attitudes instead of trying to alter them (Moore and Isen, 152).

Conclusion

As it is outlined in this research paper, consumers generally exhibit different buying behaviors for different products. Before a consumer purchases a product, he or she must go through the stages of predispositions, perceived need for a product, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase behavior, and post-purchase behavior and the consumer behavior is affected largely by the complex interplay of cultural, social, personal, and psychological factors, and among these factors, cultural factors are the most influential. A company ought to fathom the pivotal role played by the consumer’s cultural background, subculture, as well as his or her social class since they are the most basic cause of an individual’s needs and eventual behavior. Because of the fact that every society has a type of social class structure, which show similar behavioral pattern, companies are obliged to design products and services to the satisfaction of these market segments. Because most people engage in daily interactions with others, social factors, which comprise of small groups, family, and social roles and status, play a significant role in consumer decision-making process and they ultimately influence the consumer’s decision to purchase or not purchase a product. Personal consumer attributes include “his or her age and life cycle stage, occupation, economic situation, lifestyle, and personality and self-concept, while psychological factors include motivation perception, learning, and beliefs and attitudes of the person” (“Consumer behavior,” para.18, 27).

Recommendations

In earlier times, marketers were able to comprehend the behavior of their customers by means of the daily experience of selling to them; however, since many companies have increased in size, they have lost direct contact with their consumers. Marketing decision makers are now spending more money on consumer research. More resources are being used to investigate the behavior of the consumers. Marketers who are able to fathom how buyers react to a variety of marketing efforts have a great competitive advantage in the market. For that reason, firms are obliged to undertake extensive studies on the correlation that exists between marketing stimuli and consumer reaction behavior (Wanke, 37).

Therefore, it is important to understand a particular market before coming up with approaches of targeting it. The end-user market purchases goods and services for personal or family use and differ significantly in terms of age, income, and preferences among other factors (Coles, 5). Marketers are obliged to comprehend how buyers change marketing and other related inputs into purchasing responses in order to exert influence on them. The buyer behavior is affected by his or her attributes, which includes cultural, social, personal, and psychological factors, and by his or her decision making process. The purchasing behavior of an individual is the outcome of complicated interaction of these influences. Most of these influences are not under the control of marketers. However, they are of great benefit in identifying and comprehending the buyers that are usually targeted by marketing efforts.

Works cited

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