CONSUMER BEHAVIOUR

Preface
While teaching the Elective Papers of Marketing Management in some Business Schools, the author came across several problems faced by the management students, in studying & preparing for the examinations. Usually, the students need to study one main text, and a few other supplementary books. There are many good text books and reference books available for study. But no single book gives a complete or comprehensive material for study or the examinations for the students. This is because either the syllabus is not matching with the contents & style of the text books or the treatment is too short or too lengthy for their relative importance. All these have to be covered within a short & stipulated period of teaching sessions ² normally one semester or trimester. Even the difference in style & approach of the treatment of concept presented in various text books sometimes gives rise to conflicting views in understanding the underlying concept and principles. So if a complete and comprehensive study material is available, both the students & the teachers can benefit out of this. On the basis of varied and long experience in industry and teaching, the author perceives that the teaching or study of management subjects is the best in the following way : General meaning & evolution of the terms, terminology & concepts, Their interpretations in the context of the particular subject & circumstances, Detailed descriptions and explanations, and Finally, the application of this concept in real life situations.

1. 2. 3. 4.

The author understands that the two critical steps among these are no.s (2) Interpretations, and (4) Applications. In these work the author tries to help solve one of them in particular, namely Interpretations. The other one, namely Applications is kept out of the present objective for two reasons : 1. The scenario of marketing, markets & consumer has become so complex and varied, that a single application uses not one but several of the marketing concepts & strategies simultaneously, where the present endeavour may not be sufficient to describe their different effects. 2. The study material of case studies and applications are available for both global & domestic companies in plenty.

In this maiden work, the author sincerely tries to compile an easy flowing study material so that the first three points of the above steps become easy for the students so as to have a quick grasp over the subject matter. In other words, the author tries to make the whole process of studying easier for the students, as well as the teachers. The author, thanks sincerely one and all who have inspired, guided and helped him in any way whatsoever, and he invites with an open mind all constructive suggestions & comments from anybody who is related to this stream of knowledge & study. There shall be a series of Articles on the subject of Consumer Behaviour. The Presentation Style of the whole set of Articles shall be in the following Format & Style : 1. Language ² Mostly in English (UK) or British English 2. Length ² The length of one article varies approximately between One & Two Sessions ( 60 to 120 minutes), if presented or discussed (approx 2000-3500 words).

They have the products of an extreme range of attributes (the 1st P . cultures. Controlling these two attributes to have the desired benefits are the most difficult part of the management. and the firm is always on the move to make them buy so as to earn revenue. when and where and how they buy it. Suggestions regarding improvement & enhancement of contents are invited from readers via email : hisema@gmail. ´MARKETING MANAGEMENTµ function plays a very critical role. The marketers have to earn them or win them over. and how often they buy it. it is concerned not only with what consumers buy.3. more demanding. the customers have a great deal of choices & options (and often very close & competing) to decide on. hisema@yahoo. & (2) ´WORKSµ in the close proximity with the public or persons outside the organisation. 1.Place). they have a wide range of cost and payment choices (the 2nd P . The object of the study of consumer behaviour is to provide conceptual and technical tools to enable the marketer to apply them to marketing practice. marketers. The global marketplace is a study in diversity. ´BUSINESS ADMINISTRATIONµ or just ´MANAGEMENTµ today. Introduction to Consumer Behaviour 1. Now it can·t be achieved by force.co. Why Study Consumer Behaviour ? 2. The main target readers are business school students & others who have an interest in the study of business management or marketing management. there also are many similarities. 1. but they are not ´DIRECTLYµ involved in the activities mentioned above. and also how they consume it & dispose it. and where they should give their loyalty ? From the marketers· point of view : ´The purpose of marketing is to sell more stuff to more people more often for more money in order to make more profitµ.Promotion). The Consumer Behaviour Theory Why Study Consumer Behaviour ? In the highly specialised study of ´BUSINESS MANAGEMENTµ. 4. the ´Consumersµ or the ´Customersµ play a very critical role as these are the people who finally BUY the goods & services of the organisation. despite prevailing diversity. However. advertising media. retailers. more discerning. because none of these two are within the direct control of the marketers. producers.com Contents 1. Today. they can order them to be supplied to their door step or anywhere else (the 3rd P . and customs and of course the individual or psychological behaviour. hisema@zoho.Product).com. Similarly. diversity among consumers. For the customers are today more informed. 2. more knowledgeable. 1. . This is the basic principle of requirement for the marketers in earlier days where aggressive selling was the aim. 4. both profit & non-profit. aggression or plain alluring. within the study of Marketing Management. How can they possibly decide where to spend their time and money. but also with why they buy it. This doesn·t mean that the other functional areas are not useful.in. And above all there is no dearth of marketers to buy from. 3. It·s crucial from both the points of view as given below : From the customers· point of view : Customers today are in a tough spot. in the highly developed & technologically advanced society. and finally they are bombarded with more communications from more channels than ever before (the 4th P . The study of consumer behaviour (CB) is very important to the marketers because it enables them to understand and predict buying behaviour of consumers in the marketplace. This is because this functional area of management (1) ´EARNSµ the revenue.Price).

Research shows that two different buyers buying the same product may have done it for different reasons. such as a hospital. ´Marketing Admissionsµ has become an accepted term to mean marketing to potential students. It is also the basis of the approach to the concept of Holistic Marketing. and after the purchase. and economics. the study of Consumer Behaviour is one of the most important in business education. A marketing manager would like to know how consumer behaviour will help him to design better marketing plans to get those plans accepted within the company. The main objective of the study of consumer behaviour is to provide marketers with the knowledge and skills. The following are a few examples of the benefits of the study of consumer behaviour derived by the different categories of people : 1. Thus. Consumer behaviour is interdisciplinary. In a non-profit service organisation. Customers are created and maintained through marketing strategies. because of many variables involved and their tendency to interact with & influence each other. have different emotional attachments towards the things and so on. The study of consumer behaviour helps management understand consumers· needs so as to recognise the potential for the trend of development of change in consumer requirements and new technology. that is. philosophers & researchers in such diverse disciplines as psychology. sociology. it takes place at every phase of the consumption process: before the purchase. because the purpose of a business is to create and keep customers. (See the article on ´HOLISTIC MARKETING µ written by the author). the success of a business is to achieve organisational objectives. social psychology. Introduction to Consumer Behaviour The study of Consumer Behaviour is quite complex. According to Professor Theodore Levitt of the Harvard Business School. which can be done by the above two methods. Consumer behaviour has become an integral part of strategic market planning. and influencing consumers. This suggests that the knowledge & information about consumers is critical for developing successful marketing strategies because it challenges the marketers to think about and analyse the relationship between the consumers & marketers. 3. and the consumer behaviour & the marketing strategy. consumer behaviour researchers with their skills for the naturalistic settings of the market are trying to make a major contribution to our understanding of human thinking in general. paid different prices. 2. an individual in the marketing department would like to know the patients· needs and how best to serve those needs. And the quality of marketing strategies depends on knowing.Consumer research is the methodology used to study consumer behaviour. that are necessary to carry out detailed consumer analyses which could be used for understanding markets and developing marketing strategies. used in different ways. In other words. And also to articulate the new thing in terms of the consumers· needs so that it will be accepted in the market well. Universities & Colleges now recognise that they need to know about consumer behaviour to aid in recruiting students. during the purchase. The belief that ethics and social responsibility should also be integral components of every marketing decision is embodied in a revised marketing concept ² the societal marketing concept ² which calls on marketers to fulfil the needs of their target markets in ways that improve society as a whole. These variables are divided into three . it is based on concepts and theories about people that have been developed by scientists. cultural anthropology. serving.

Individual Determinants of Behaviour : Major individual determinants of Consumer Behaviour are portrayed in the middle ring. Information Search.). economical etc. major sections that have been identified as the most important general influences on Consumer Behaviour. These variables are personal in nature and they are influenced by the above set of external factors and in turn influence the way consumers proceed thro· a decision making process regarding products & services. 1. They are : Personality & Self-concept. one in the middle & one at the inner most.1. 3. Other times variables are known to the marketers but their exact nature & relative strength of influence is not apparent. 5. Sometimes this occurs because they don·t clearly understand the extent of variables that might be having an influence. Perception & Information Processing. etc. 3. Marketers are frequently uncertain about the variables that are at play influencing & affecting consumers. These are the human mind and its attributes. 4. and Sub-culture. The Consumer Decision Making Process : The buying decision comes as a product of the complex interaction of the external factors and the personal attributes. 4. are discussed above. 5. like all human behaviour is very complex. 4. Motivation & Involvement. Evaluation of Application. 1. Purchase Decision. Post-Purchase Behaviour. Other Influences (which are not categorised by any of the above six. 1. and Inter-Personal Influences. whose major steps are : Problem Recognition. In these circumstances. The inner most circle denotes the consumer decision making process regarding products & services. But the consumer behaviour theory. It not only helps us to think about consumers. Social Class. internal. The human mind being as complex as it is. and Social Group. the understanding of the buying behaviour of the consumers becomes a continuous activity of application of various theories & concepts by the marketers. 2. Consumer behaviour. 2. like all theories is a simplified & abstract representation of reality. and they represent the following : External Environmental Variables Influencing Behaviour : These are the factors controlled by external environments like the following form the basis of external influences over the mind of a customer (outer circle) : Culture. like geographical. but also provides . it is useful to understand the above mentioned concepts and how the consumers behave. Learning & Memory. Sometimes some variables are not directly observable. economical. The more simplified picture of consumers provided by the theory helps us enormously to understand the consumers. The details of all external. Attitudes. one at the outer most. Family. 3. political. 2. religious environment. so that their decision making process can be predicted to a reasonable extent. Imagine three concentric circles. 2. environmental. The Consumer Behaviour Theory An understanding of how the theory of consumer behaviour and its application tools evolved over the years will enable us to appreciate the validity of the theory and give us a guidance in its practical application. 1.

It has heuristic value. particularly with respect to the emotional. It helps us to make better marketing decisions for profit & non-profit organisations. what is the magic stuff called consumer behaviour theory that does all these wonderful things. because to be effective in an organisation ² for profit or non-profit ² one has to persuade others to accept his ideas. And in fact. it can be so complex that we can·t understand well enough to apply it to our practical problems. This means. 3. 10. then it won·t be very useful. to lay the theory up against data describing how consumers buy in the market and thereby determine if the facts confirm the theory. Researchers G Zaltman and M Wallendorf have came out with the most important attributes of a good & sound theory. On the surface. If not. This language is very useful. us with a language to talk about them. If it is not. The theory is general. It is original. . they will not likely to accept the theory and so it won·t be useful. after very close and careful thought. If not. meaning that it poses new questions for us that had not been previously asked. which means that it can be applied to a wide range of products & services. 5. These are the following : A theory which does both : explains how consumers buy & predicts what consumers will buy. The theory is simple. If they don·t. If not. The behaviour that the consumers display in searching for. Market Research or Marketing Research (MR) has been developing since ´MARKETINGµ which brings together all customer elements. It is testable so that we can verify whether the theory is valid and therefore dependable. mental. new knowledge is created and that becomes the part of the theory. this highly complex & varied display of behaviour by consumers seems essentially unexplained. then either the theory should be modified till the facts do verify it or abandon the theory. This means that the theory is internally free from logical incongruencies or else the prediction will be doubtful & flawed. as explained earlier. it is supported by the facts. time and ideas by decision making units. psychological. and explaining why the behaviour pattern takes place. It unifies previously unrelated areas of knowledge. grew out of the concept of ´SALESµ in the early fifties. While trying to answer these questions.1. It is the body of knowledge which studies various aspects of purchase and consumption of products and services by individuals with various social and psychological variables at play. But slowly as the theory develops. It is internally consistent. 2. 2. The theory represents the hidden order in this very complex activity. It·s the behaviour displayed by the consumers during the acquisition. 6. The theory of consumer behaviour draws heavily upon the famous psychologist Sigmund Freud. 7. And if all the above ten points are in order. lack of this language has been one of the greatest drawback of the modern marketers. 8. describing the order we suddenly see. and hence. 11. Definitions : Consumer Behaviour (or Buyer Behaviour) is broadly defined by various scholars & researchers as : 1. It·s not just a theory. services. 3. but more than that. Lack of this quality will make the theory a dangerous tool. it relates to information that consumers get from advertising so as to decide what brands they buy. it can·t be seen by others as making any sense. Thus we can examine the characteristics of a theory that enables us to do so. 4. purchasing. It is plausible. then it can be applied to designing marketing strategy and marketing plans. subjective or nonutilitarian aspects of buying decision or behaviour of a consumer. 9. consumption and disposition of products. Now. using. for example. evaluating and disposing of products and services that they expect will satisfy their needs. the hidden pattern emerges. Implied in the previous characteristic. it adds little to the existing knowledge. which we call consumer behaviour.

selecting. behaviour & environmental events by which human beings conduct the exchange aspect of their lives. 5. including the decision processes that precede and follow these actions. evaluation. purchasing. consumption and post purchase behaviour of the consumers and includes the disposal of purchased products keeping environment and personal characteristics in mind. and disposing of products and services so as to satisfy their needs and desires. The American Marketing Association (AMA) defines consumer behaviour as ´The dynamic interaction of cognition.4. consuming. and disposing of products and services. The process and activities people engage in when searching for. evaluating. . using. The study of consumer behaviour involves search. The activities directly involved in obtaining. purchase. 6.

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