2.1 What is Consumer Behaviour?
Consumer behaviour represents the study of persons and organizations with respect to the endeavours linked to buying and utilization of services and products, encompassing psychological and mental reactions that occur before or after such practices. It as well comprises of the impact that such activities have on the consumers and the society. The theory of consumer behaviour demonstrates the manner in which consumers prefer dissimilar items (Solomon, 2014). It incorporates elements from marketing, financial, sociological, and anthropological aspects to mention a few (Pizam et al., 2016). Drawing clients concerns effectively managing the triple bottom line, a succession through which organizations control their fiscal, environmental, and social problems, opportunities, and demands.
2.2 Buying Process
Buying processes represent the sequences of practices that customers go through to arrive at a purchasing choice. The comprehension of consumers’ buying process is not just vital for businesspeople but also organizations as it facilitates them to set their sales policies accordingly. Making decisions on high-involvement purchases is intricate (Kotler & Armstrong, 2010). Such intricacy emanates from the reality that it could be an exceedingly risky and occasional process that entails a lot of money. Nevertheless, high-involvement purchases are crucial in the buying process since they play a fundamental role in the satisfaction of the consumer’s ego as well as social needs. It has been established that the buying process is composed of five aspects that encompass evaluation of alternatives, information search, need recognition, post-purchase behaviour, and purchase decision.
2.2.1 Needs Recognition. Identifying own needs acts as the initial phase of the process of making a purchase decision. In this phase, the consumer establishes the necessity of buying a given item. In line with Kotler and Armstrong (2010), the requirement to buy an item is aroused by disparity amid the customer’s anticipated and real situation. Studies further affirm that the necessity of buying a product may either be elicited by internal or external stimuli. Whereas external stimuli emanate from outside sources, internal stimuli are triggered by the personal experiences of consumers.
External Stimuli. The causes of external stimuli are diverse.In marketing, companies engage in aggressive advertisements and promotions with the aim of encouraging consumers to feel the urge of buying their products. Furthermore, external stimuli could stem from a recommendation or influence by another individual to buy a certain product (Kotler & Armstrong, 2010). On this note, in terms of properties, businesses take part in market surveys in a bid to establish the existing market inclinations. IKEA, a prominent home furnishing corporation, assesses the market inclinations to establish the needs of consumers when it comes to homes and related products. The results of a given market study by the corporation established that consumers are progressively being attracted to styling homes and appliances. In this regard, IKEA sought to come up with products that satisfy the demands of their customers.
Functional Need. Functional needs denote the demands that call for the purchase of items that bridge consumption-linked gaps, for instance, solving an existing problem. Consumers have been found to have a tendency of preferring products on the basis of satisfying their demands (Perreau, 2014). The majority of brands offer a blend of symbolic, functional, and practical gains to customers. The rationale behind consumers going for a given product is the desire to resolve a consumption-associated issue. In this regard, businesses produce their brands in a manner that is in line with the functional needs of the customers. Companies mainly rely on external stimuli to sway consumer purchase choice. For example, since Microsoft Office products are employed in office tasks, they attract consumers who have the desire of enhancing office chores.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Among the greatly prosperous approaches of convincing customers to purchase an item is focusing strongly on one or more of their requirements. Having the best customers and being successful requires the comprehension of the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs over and above meeting each of the needs identified (Maslow, 1970). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs identifies the most critical areas of demands in its most basic approach. These encompass physiological (vital) needs after which safety needs, aesthetic, esteem, knowing and understanding, love and belongingness, self-transcendence, and self-actualization needs follow. Maslow was convinced that as an individual meets the requirements of a given phase, she goes on to the next in terms of priority. Therefore, luxurious products and services, for example, massage might be desired by the consumers in need of advancing their self-esteem. Hence, marketing strategies for luxurious products and services are unlikely to attract consumers in the first stage, physiological needs, because they are mainly in need of basic commodities, for instance, food. On the contrary, the consumers desiring to boost esteem are mostly in search of credit and praise. If such customers have a feeling that some services or products such as designer suits and interior design have a likelihood of drawing compliments or making them outstanding, they will easily purchase them.
2.2.2. Information Research. After the identification of the requirement to buy a given product, the following phase is the decision-making progression by the buyer, which involves undertaking a thorough search for details concerning the brand. Extensive research enables the recognition of the different options that the market has to offer (Bruner, 1986; Punj, 1987). For instance, in the last couple of decades, there has been a considerable development in the UK property market. In this regard, it has created a huge number of alternatives from which investors and consumers can choose. In their search for details regarding a product or service, customers may take into consideration both external and internal sources.
The Internal Research.
The details in the hands of the customers concerning a given product due to
experience act as the internal sources. In line with Engel, Blackwell, and
Miniard (1993), brand account reveals the manner in which consumers employed it
as a sign of recognition. A few decades ago, consumers employed brand names
with the purpose of distinguishing items from different companies. Currently,
they not only utilize brand names in differentiating companies but also in
making decisions to buy different products. Brands mainly embrace symbol, name,
and design, which make them appeal to the customers’ perceptions and choices of
preferred products. Therefore, superior brands remain in the minds of customers
for long and easily make them loyal consumers. A brand that is liked by many
consumers has a high probability of succeeding in the market. Most customers
usually purchase products that enhance their self-worth. This makes companies
seek to know the perception of customers about their products. Accordingly, they
strive to create strong brand names that appeal to as many customers as
possible. Consumers mull over several aspects prior to deciding to buy a
product. At times, they could even assess the aesthetic appeal of the product,
in addition to quality.
The external Research. An external search for details involves looking for information from outside settings. This could call for one to seek information from pals, family members, or neighbours. Moreover, customers may choose to obtain information from traders, ads, and businesspeople (Holbrook & Hirschman, 1982). With regard to personal sources, the major aspects that sway consumer purchase behaviour and preferences are social groupings and level that one is in. Customers usually exist in social groupings that encompass the disadvantaged, rich, and middle-class. Consumers under a similar social group have the likelihood of residing in comparable areas, wearing similarly, and purchasing nearly the same kind of items. One group’s inclination may have a significant impact on the spending patterns of customers in a given region. A person’s salary is possibly the most noteworthy driver in every class, which translates to dissimilar buying patterns. For marketers to successfully appeal to the upper class, their strategies have to be strongly geared toward satisfying their demands with respect to impression, cost, worth, and packaging. Marketers ought to understand changes taking place in a given class to meet their needs. For example, consumers in the higher middle-class are usually strong-minded, future-inclined individuals who are financially successful and just desiring to better their living standard.
As a means of promoting commercial sources of information, Apple Inc. employs dissimilar communication approaches to popularise its products. The aim of utilizing an incorporated marketing communication is to appeal to a high number of consumers and increase the sales level (Ray, 1973). The corporation employs ads and promotional instruments to attract the consideration, interest, and preference of the consumers. Furthermore, over and above using broadcast and print media in marketing its products, the corporation uses images of luxurious phones on its web site as a way of attracting consumers. Other forms of communication that companies employ encompass direct marketing, sales promotion, public relations, digital media, personal selling, and point-of-purchase to mention a few.
Companies are currently using different means of public relations to boost their success. For example, an organization might reach consumers via matters that deal with public interest. Apple Inc. tends to employ public relations when marketing new merchandise (Solomon, 2004). The information that a corporation articulates assists in either destroying or strengthening its public image. Handling, gauging, using products or services, and prior experiences act as experiential sources of details in the buying process.
2.2.3 Evaluation of Alternative. After collecting sufficient details concerning a given item whether passively or actively, customers ought to assess the different options available in the market. The aim of appraising the options may be to establish the most suitable product to choose (Wright, 2006). Furthermore, assessing the alternative could as well seek to determine the quality of the item and brand status, which play a key role in delivering the needed contentment. The aspects that may be taken into deliberation while evaluating products include the cost of the item and customer’s experience. Contemplation of all faces assists in determining whether the merchandise offers value for money to the customer.
Attributes and Benefits. Customers take numerous aspects into consideration before choosing to buy a given item. They employ a methodical practice of making decisions for every available product. Nonetheless, sometimes consumers are in a rush to purchase a given item, which compels them to employ psychological shortcuts (Wright, 2006). In this regard, they end up purchasing a product owing to its alleged value and brand status. Since consumers have the probability of purchasing a brand that enjoys several functions as it appears quality, companies are using non-media and media advertisements for some time to stimulate the interest of customers. Other than attracting consumers, sales promotion seeks to facilitate the availability of a product. Instances of marketing approaches that companies employ in sales promotions encompass discounts and coupons among others.
2.2.4 Purchase Decision. According to Engel et al. (1993), the decision to buy a given product is reliant on the outcome of the assessment stage. After carrying out an intensive assessment process of the different options concerning a product or service, it becomes easy to make a decision. Nevertheless, the likelihood of implementing the decision to purchase a product is influenced by the extent of knowledge, preference, and interest.
The Attitudes of Others. Riley, Pina, and Bravo (2013) assert that the rationale behind consumers buying a given product is the discernment by other people that the items are worth purchasing. It is, therefore, apparent that consumers tend to go for the items that others approve. Customers are inclined to buying the products that are renowned for superior quality. Successful brands are well known for products and services that are top-notch and that appeal to many consumers (Pope & Voges, 2016). Consumers mainly depend on experience or approval from pals while selecting products. On this note, most customers have a likelihood of buying a given item on condition that their friends approve it.
The Unexpected Situational Factors. Customers could be influenced by the manner in which a company or product poses itself as advanced or luxurious. A product or service could be set as a brand for people who have a high-status life. This makes the wealthy consumers get attracted to purchase them since they believe that the high cost is a proof of their value. If the prices of such products were to be reduced unexpectedly (possibly as a way of attracting the underprivileged and middle-income people); such an approach would sway the preference of the wealthy customers negatively. This may result in the products losing the “luxurious status” engraved in high-income earners’ minds. In this regard, they would switch to similar products from other companies. Moslehpour and Le Huyen (2014) allege that most people relate the high cost of some products to quality, innovation, uniqueness, and elegant design. They believe that similar but cheaper products or services cannot be pioneering and of top-notch quality. Thus, offering low prices may result in customers having doubts about the products’ quality. Similarly, unexpected news of the poor quality of some products could lead to their reduced demand and low sales.
2.2.5 Post-purchase Behaviour. According to Engel et al. (1993), customers buy items with the aim of facilitating their degree of helpfulness after purchase. Post-purchase assessment involves establishing if the item bought resulted in the realization of the intended value (Mihart, 2012). While marketing their products or services, marketers assure consumers of numerous gains linked to the purchase. On this note, inconsistency with the assurance could lead to consumers protesting or having a quest for legal measures against the seller.
Post-Purchase Satisfaction. Consumers purchase products and services mostly to meet a couple of primary objectives, which include self-worth and personal needs. Renowned companies result in consumers having a preference in the items affiliated with them (Kotler & Keller, 2006; Khan, 2006). For example, when consumers find items having the brand name of a popular company, they believe that it is of high quality. If the chosen product fails to meet anticipations, the consumer is disappointed; if it satisfies the expectations, the customer is pleased; and when it surpasses prospects, the buyer is overjoyed.
Post-purchase Actions. Organisations use different strategies to generate appealing notions that make consumers believe that their products are valuable. This assists companies to ensure the loyalty of consumers and expands their market base the moment a considerable number develops positive perceptions of their products and services (Oliver, 2006). Any time that consumers find items from such companies, they tend to believe that they are quality.
2.3 Personal Factors
Some products’ target customers could be the youthful individuals, older adults, females, males, high-income earners, or the learned consumers (Baroto, Abdullah, & Wan, 2012). These individuals share information regarding the excellence of products and services from a given company with their friends and peers. If a person desires being linked to a given social group, s/he must buy items that suit that class. All social groups, for instance, peers, have their distinctive inclinations. The youth have a preference of buying products that ensure that they look fashionable and elegant. In this regard, successful companies offer products and services for consumers with different preferences in an effort of boosting customer satisfaction and loyalty. They target not only the young and older adults but also customers of both genders (Solomon, 2004). The majority of customers who are in need of comfort and extravagance are inclined to items that meet the demands of a luxurious standard of living, for instance, deluxe cars and expensive interior designs and renovations. Customers may employ products to articulate the need to correlate or disengage themselves from a given class in line with their age, gender, income level, education, or occupation. Accordingly, products sway customers’ purchase preferences through their personal aspects.
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