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Saturday, 19 March 2011

Marketing - Marketing Mix and Consumer Behaviour: The key is the research.
Consumer Behaviour: The key is the research. Marketing over the last two decades has made significant progress in terms of segmentation, positioning and targeting of the product. In this progress is included the core aspect of consumer behaviour. The study of such behaviour is a necessity for any company in any business, regarding this it is interesting the analysis of consumer behaviour in purchasing technological products. There are several cases of companies not only in the technology field, leading market research in order to understand how they can maintain the loyalty of existing customers and attract new ones, but not everyone can have positive results. A remarkable example of success is Apple Inc. which with its revolutionary and aesthetically refined products managed to have a tremendous positive feedback from consumers and is able to maintain a strong and lasting relationship.

Consumer Behaviour : Marketing Research and Marketing Mix Marketing Research In creating a product and an advertising campaign is essential to consider the target market. It is crucial to know what are the habits of the consumer, their needs when purchasing a specific product and what are the benefits of such purchase. So it is vital to understand how to attract consumers' attention and get a complete picture of the situation. It is possible to do that by following five basic steps/questions to know the customer. It is important to know: Who buys? How do they buy? When do they buy? Where do they buy? Why do they buy? Marketers must use research to gain total understanding of the situation that they have to face. With this tool they can deduce the consumer

response to specific stimuli. The research is the basis from which to understand the market conditions; without adequate research is likely to fail in the launch of the product and consequently a loss of image quality of the brand (Kotler et al. 1999). There are some cases of colossal failures by large companies that did not produce a valid search and found themselves in difficulties such as McDonald's. In 1985, the famous fast-food chain in the creation of the famous Big Mac appeared in the Indian market without taking into account a crucial factor, in India people do not eat beef for religious reasons. McDonald's has lost a large market share and the image has obviously been compromised because there has been no research on the culture and the hypothetical consumers were offended by that product (Willan 2011). So research is vital to identify the potential customer, in this respect Professor Peter Drucker says, "make what you can sell and not sell what you can make" (Willan 2011), the concept of research is implicit in the phrase. It is clear at this point that marketers must consider a diverse range of aspects of the relationship between product and consumer.

Marketing Mix - Apples case study During research marketers need to identify the consumer in order to know with certainty what kind of product offer. The buyer is exposed to stimuli that are also known as the marketing mix and can be identified with the four Ps: product, price, place and promotion (Blythe 2008). Apple Inc. is an example of a successful marketing mix, this company has a positive feedback by the consumers because they know how to deal with them, Apple Inc. knows exactly what the consumer wants and its success is given by a powerful research. Product The first thing to take into account about the marketing mix is the product. Basically the product is anything tangible or not, may be a service, a physical good, a place, a product is anything that satisfies a need (Blythe 2008). Apple gives to their customers a wide range of products that covers many field in technology for example they have different kinds of laptop with different size and power, also they invented the iPod which now is not only an mp3 player but is a status symbol of our era (, in addition in the last four years they have created a brand-new market for smart-phones and tablet-pc, this is called by the Apples CEO Steve Jobs the post-pc era (Jobs 2011). According to Apples product portfolio ( 2010, see appendix) most of the profits come from iPhone and in less than a year iPad has generated revenues almost as high as those from laptops.

Price The price is the amount of money the consumer pays for the product or service. The price in our modern market should be competitive, this means that it should not be so high but there are exceptions (Blythe 2008). The price of Apples products is not low compared to other brands but there is a reason for this. Apple is a premium brand, it dominates the market and this company knows that even though the price in some countries is quite high they will have customers anyway ( Generally their products are a union between technology and liberal arts so they do not just sell products but they sell art (Jobs 2011). Place The place is the location where consumers purchases the product and where they can receive support, it is also called distribution channel (Blythe 2008). As the Apples CEO said during the last keynote held in San Francisco in 2011 one of the reason of this success is the powerful network of retail they have around the world (Jobs 2011). Apples retails are everywhere, the major cities in the world usually have at least three big stores where they can receive customers and, most important, customers can test the product before the purchase and receive support ( Promotion The promotion is the set of rules for advertising a product, for example a product can be advertised by PR, personal selling, also different kinds of advertising are used such as digital marketing adverts, television, billboards and so on (Blythe 2008). Of course for Apple this is very important, in the last six years the brand-awareness has significantly increased because they are able to create powerful and funny adverts where they explain how their product works. Also they offer different kinds of discounts for students and professionals ( Factors affecting the consumer buying process The process of purchase is influenced by other aspects related to the customer in a more closely way, these are : cultural, social, personal and psychological. The culture in which the consumer lives and grows is the starting point from where the needs arise and will also shape the behaviour. It is also necessary to take into account demographic factors such as subcultures and groups of people. Then, the marketer must be able to identify changes in the consumer culture in order to keep updated on new needs and

behaviours. With regard to social factors can be referred to social groups to which the consumer belongs, an important social group is the family of the consumer (Kotler et al. 1999). In this environment is outlined the DNA of the potential buyer. Other social factors are the role and status held by the consumer in the society, in fact in the purchase of a product is often influenced by the groups to which it belongs. With regard to personal factors is indispensable to consider characteristics such as age, job, economic circumstances, life-style and the personality of the buyer. Finally, a more difficult issue to study and understand is the psychological aspect of the purchase. Marketers must identify the reason for this purchase, the marketer asks why consumers should buy a particular product and of course you ask why he should buy his own (Kotler et al. 1999). The consumer buying process can be analysed by following five stages which are: problem/need recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, post-purchase behaviour. Problem/need recognition In this stage the consumer is trying to find a solution to a problem or a need. Marketers work is to identify which is this problem and try to find a solution with their product ( Information search Before the purchase the consumer does research about the product. He or she can have information from friends, neighbours but also from commercials. Obviously the mass media plays an important role in giving information about a product ( Evaluating of alternatives After the research the consumer has different solution to satisfy its needs. He or she is now in the position to evaluate alternatives products to purchase. The consumer, in this stage, face the decision of which is the best solution to the problem. This is an important step because is when the consumer makes the choice about the product to buy ( Purchase decision and post-purchase behaviour This is the stage where the consumer actually buy the product, he or she evaluates the brand which likes the most. Also the consumer calculate the risk of the purchase and this could lead to change his/her mind about it. In the post-purchase stage the buyer might think if its purchase is good, this

feeling could be avoided by marketers by convincing the consumer that what he/she purchased is the best product on the market (

Conclusions In conclusion is evident that to create a competitive product to put into the market is vital to have a strong knowledge of the chosen consumer. The most powerful tool to understand the consumers behaviour is research, without an adequate one the possibilities to fail are several. If a firm point its attention on the research there are many chances to create a long lasting relationship with the customers and this could lead to brand-loyalty and substantial profits.

References Blythe,J. (2008) The Official CIM Coursebook: Marketing Essential. UK: Elsevier Jobs,S. Apples CEO (02/03/2011) Apples Keynote, USA: San Francisco. Kotler,P. Armstrong,G. Saunders,J. Wong,P. (1999) Principles of Marketing Second European Ed. New Jersey: Prentice Hall Inc., (n.d.) Consumers Buying Process, [Internet] [Accessed on 13/03/2011], (n.d.) Apples Marketing Mix, [Internet] [Accessed on 10/03/2011] Dr. Willan, M., (08/03/2011) CIM Marketing Essentials [Lecture], LSBF: London

Appendix, - Apple's Product Portfolio