Psychological Factors’ Implications on Consumers’ Buying Behaviour: Examples from Tanzania

By: Gabriel Byabato Bakilana
June 2009

Consumer Behaviour Consumer behaviour is the study of how people buy, what they buy, when they buy and why they buy. It blends elements from psychology, sociology, sociopsychology, anthropology and economics. It attempts to understand the buyer decision processes/buyer decision making process, both individually and in groups. It studies characteristics of individual consumers such as demographics, psychographics, and behavioural variables in an attempt to understand people's wants. It also tries to assess influences on the consumer from groups such as family, friends, reference groups, and society in general. According to Kotler and Keller (2006) consumer behaviour is the study of how individuals, groups and organizations select, buy, use and dispose of goods, services, ideas or experiences to satisfy their needs and wants. A study of consumer behaviour provides clues for improving or introducing products or services, setting prices, devising channels, crafting messages and developing other marketing activities. Consumer’s buying behaviour is influenced by cultural, social and personal factors. Cultural factors exert the broadest and deepest influence. Consumer Psychology Consumer psychology is the study of how people relate to the products and services that they purchase or use. Consumer psychologists study virtually all psychological and behavioural responses that can occur within the context of a person's role as a consumer. And consistent with the goals of psychologists from other areas, research carried out by consumer psychologists is designed to describe, predict, explain, and/or influence consumer responses to product- and service-related information and experiences. For example, a research on consumer psychology may be used to:
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Provide information to companies and consumers on what the public needs or wants Help an organization (either profit or non-profit) effectively develop and market products, services, or ideas Guide the work of government agencies that are responsible for product safety, identity of brand names, evaluation of advertising claims, and assessment of ethical marketing practices

Motivation A need becomes a motive when it is aroused to a sufficient level of intensity. A motive is a need that is sufficiently pressing to drive the person to act. Needs can be classified into biogenic and psychogenic needs.


Biogenic needs arise from psychological states of tension such as hunger, thirst or discomfort while psychogenic needs arise from psychological states of tension such as the need for recognition, esteem or belonging. Motivation is about what makes any living creature go in search of something, whether it is lions seeking shade or customers looking for a cold drink. In Marketing, it's all about finding out what your customers really need (and want and the difference between those two concepts) and what they are willing to do to get it. It's also about finding out how much you, as the marketer, are willing to do to satisfy those customers. Motivation has much to do with desire and ambition, and if they are absent, motivation is absent too. Often, a person has the desire and ambition to get something done or achieve a certain goal, but lacks the push, the initiative and the willingness to take action. This shows a lack of motivation and inner drive. Motivation strengthens the ambition, increases initiative and gives direction, courage, energy and the persistence to follow one's goals. A motivated person takes action and does whatever he/she needs to achieve his/her goals. Motivation is usually strong, when one has a vision, a clear mental image of a certain situation or achievement, and also a strong desire to materialize it. In this case motivation pushes one forward, toward taking action and making the vision a reality. Motivation can be applied to every action and goal. It could be motivation to study a foreign language, to get good grades at school, bake a cake, write a poem, take a walk everyday, make more money, get a better job, buy a new house, own a business or become a writer, a doctor or a lawyer. Motivation is present whenever there is a clear vision, precise knowledge of what one wants to do, a strong desire and faith in one's abilities. Three best known theories of human motivation are those of Sigmund Freud, Abraham Maslow and Frederick Hertzberg. These are the best because they carry quite different implications for consumer analysis and marketing strategy. • Freud’s theory assumes that the psychological forces shaping people’s behaviour are largely unconscious and that a person can not fully understand his/her own motivations. A marketer should understand that when a person examines specific brands he/she will react not only to their stated capabilities but also to other less conscious cues. Shape, size, weight, material, colour and brand name can all trigger certain associations and emotions.


Maslow’s theory sought to explain why people are driven by a particular need at a particular time. In this theory, human needs are arranged in hierarchy, from the most pressing to the least pressing, in order of importance. When a person succeeds in satisfying an important need, he/she will try to satisfy the next important need. This theory helps marketers to understand how various products it into the plans, goals and lives of consumers.

Hertzberg developed a two factor theory that distinguishes dissatisfiers (factors that cause dissatisfaction) and satisfiers (factors that cause satisfaction). The absence of dissatisfiers is not enough; satisfiers must be present to motivate a purchase. E.g. A computer that does not come with a warranty would be a dissatisfier, yet the presence of a product warranty would not act as a satisfier or motivator of a purchase because it’s not a source of intrinsic satisfaction. This theory has two implications. First, sellers should do their best to avoid dissatisfiers, for example a poor training manual or a poor service policy. Although these things will not sell a product, they might easily unsell it. Second, the seller should identify the major satisfiers or motivators of purchase in the market and then supply them. These satisfiers will make a major difference as to which brand the consumers buy.

Perception Perception is the process by which an individual selects, organizes and interprets information to increase a meaningful picture of the words. Perception depends not only on the physical stimuli but also on the stimuli’s relation to the surrounding field and on conditions within the individual. One person might perceive a fast talking salesperson as aggressive and insincere while another person might perceive him/her as intelligent and helpful. Each will respond differently to the salesperson. In marketing, perceptions are more important than realities as it is perception that will affect consumer’s actual behaviour. People can emerge with different perceptions of the same object because of three perceptual processes: • Selective attention – The most stimuli will be screened out of many advertisements and brand communications that someone hears, because a person can not attend to every one of them.


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Selective distortion – People tend to interpret information in a way that will fit their pre-conceptions. Consumers will always distort information to be consistent with prior brand and product beliefs Selective retention – People tend to retain information that supports their attitudes and beliefs.

Learning Learning involves changes in an individual’s behaviour arising from experience. Learning theorists believe that learning is produced through the interplay of drives, stimuli, cues, responses and reinforcement. Leaning theory teaches marketers that they can build demand for a product by associating it with strong drives using motivation cues and providing positive reinforcement.

Beliefs and Attitudes A belief is a descriptive thought that a person has about something. A person may believe that certain cooking oil 'x' has the lowest fat content and is best for health. This belief may be based on some real facts or it may merely be a notion or opinion that the person has. The belief that the customer has about a brand is important because it determines his behaviour towards buying and using it. The beliefs constitute the brand image, and if the customer has the wrong beliefs he is likely to generate a negative image about the brand. The marketer must ensure that consumers have all relevant and correct information about the brand to facilitate formation of a positive brand image. Attitude is a person's enduring feeling, evaluation and tendency towards a particular idea or object. Starting from childhood, attitudes develop over the time with each fresh knowledge input, experience and influence. Attitudes get settled into specific patterns and are difficult to change. It is easier to market a product which fits in well with the existing patterns of attitudes rather than change the attitudes to fit a new product concept.


Implications of psychological factors on consumer behaviour (Examples from Tanzania) FACTOR Motivation EXAMPLE FROM TANZANIA Treated mosquito nets (Afya Net & Mbu Net) CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR EXPLANATION People may react differently and make a purchase of a product based on different motives. Different motives may lead to a purchase of a similar product.


Due to the increased deaths in Tanzania especially in the Coast regions due to Malaria, and after the media campaigns to show the communities on how treated mosquito nets can be used to combat Malaria, the motive was aroused and a lot of people started using these nets. In Dar es Salaam and Pemba for instance, this exercise has turned out to be very successful. In other areas, like Kagera where Malaria cases are relatively minimal, a number of people purchased these low-priced nets and began using them for other purposes like fishing and catching the traditional ‘Senene’. Yebo Juice When the product was (Yebo Yebo) introduced to the market, people perceived it as inferior. And by the time the juice came into market, a certain type of sandals had also entered the market and was popular among the local street vendors. Therefore most of the vendors who were selling that brand of juice, were mostly wearing that type of sandals. The name Yebo Yebo was immediately passed on to the sandals and the sandals received a negative perception from the market as being a cheap product meant for street vendors

Until this stage, the sandals are still considered inferior, even though for those who have bought and used them, they have proven to be durable, comfortable and relatively cheap. This is because the product was negatively perceived at its inception



Initially, consumers liked the product after the product was introduced to the market with heavy advertisements. Later, people realized that the soap has some side effects on the skin and on clothes as well. Beliefs and Local vs. There is a tendency in Attitudes Imported Tanzania, to believe more in goods and imported goods and services services rather than local ones. Majority of Tanzanians believe that all goods or services from outside Tanzania are of better quality than the local ones. Tanzanian education for instance, is of good quality but there are lots of Tanzanians abroad and in other countries in Africa trying to acquire education from there as opposed to here due to the mentality that any college out of Tanzania is better than Tanzanian colleges. Concluding Remarks

Ariel Detergent

After “learning” that the soap is actually not very good, consumption has dwindled remarkably. This behaviour has been influenced by beliefs and attitudes carried on from our grapevines; and majority of Tanzanians especially those in high social status always spend massive amounts of money to send their children abroad to get education which is also available locally

A number of factors involve consumer choices. In some cases, consumers will be more motivated. For example, one may be more careful choosing a gift for a friend than when buying the same thing for one self. Some consumers are also more motivated to comparison shop for the best prices, while others are more convenience oriented. Personality impacts decisions. Some like variety more than others, and some are more receptive to stimulation and excitement in trying new stores. Perception influences decisions. Some people, for example, can taste the difference between generic and name brand foods while many cannot. Selective perception occurs when a person is paying attention only to information of interest. For example, when looking for a new car, the consumer may pay more attention to car ads than when this is not in the horizon. Some consumers are put off by perceived risk. Thus, many marketers offer a money back guarantee. Consumers will tend to change their behavior through learning e.g., they will avoid restaurants they have found to be crowded and will settle on brands that best meet their tastes. Consumers differ in the values they hold.


REFERENCES Kotler, P & Keller, K.K, Marketing Management, 12th Edition, (2006) Ripley, Louise M (2007), Consumer Behavior, York University, Toronto, M.B.A., PhD AK/ADMS 4220 3.0 Journal of Consumer Behavior, Vol. 7, Issue 4 – 5, 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd Lempert, P., Being the Shopper: Understanding the Buyer's Choice, New York: Wiley; 2002. ISBN: 0471151351. Satterthwaite, A., Going Shopping: Consumer Choices and Community Consequences, New Haven: Yale University Press; 2001. Pooler, J., Why we shop: Emotional Rewards and Retail Strategies, Praeger 2003,Westport, Connecticut. Dittmar, H. and Brown, R., Consumer Culture, Identity and Well-Being, Psychology Press, 2007

Stávková J., Stejskal L., and Toufarová Z., Implications of Psychological Factors on Consumer Behaviour, Faculty of Business and Economics, Mendel University of Agricultureand Forestry, Brno, Czech Republic, 2008.
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