Behaviour is a mirror in which everyone shows his or her image. Behaviour is the process of responding to a thing or event. Consumer behavior is to do with the activities of individual in obtaining and using the good and services. The term consumer behaviour is defined as the behaviour that consumer display in searching for, purchasing using, evaluating and disposing of products and services that they expect will satisfy their needs.
In the words of Kotler,”Consumer behaviour is the study of how people buy, what they buy, when they buy and why they buy.”
In the words of Solomon,” Consumer behaviour is the study of the processes involved when individuals or groups select, purchase, use, or dispose of products, services, ideas, or experiences to satisfy needs and desires”
In the words of Professor Bearden and Associates,”Consumer behaviour is the mental and emotional process and the physical activities of people who purchase and use goods and services to satisfy needs and wants.”
Characteristics of consumer behavior are:
a) Consumer behavior is the part of human behavior. This cannot be separated. Human behavior decides what to buy, when to buy etc. This is unpredictable in nature. Based on the past behavioral pattern one can at least estimate like the past he might behave.
b) Learning the consumer is difficult and complex as it involves the study of human beings. Each individual behaves differently when he is placed at different situations. Every day is a lesson from each and every individual while we learn the consumer behavior. Today one may purchase a product because of its smell, tomorrow it may vary and he will purchase another due to some another reason.
c) Consumer behavior is dynamic. A consumer’s behavior is always changing in nature. The taste and preference of the people vary. According to that consumers behave differently. As the modern world changes the consumer’s behaving pattern also changes.
d) Consumer behavior is influenced by psychological, social and physical factors. A consumer may be loyal with a product due to its status values. Another may stick with a product due to its economy in price. Understanding these factors by a marketer is crucial before placing the product to the consumers.
e) Study of consumer behavior is crucial for marketers. Before producing a product or launching a product, he has to go through a clear analysis of the consumer behavior. If the people or prospects reject the product, he has to modify it.
f) Consumer behavior is a continuous process as it involves the process starts before the buying and continuing after purchasing. Before buying there will be high confusions and expectations about the product. After buying it, if the buyer is satisfied with the product he shows a positive behavior, otherwise negative.
Factors that influence consumer behaviour
The buyer has a selective perception & is exposed to a variety of products & information. He may ignore certain piece of information whereas actually seek out some other information whereas actively seek out some other information Therefore, marketers must fully understand both the theory & reality of consumer behaviour. A consumer’s buying behaviour is influenced by cultural, social & personal factors & they are a part of the buyer as an individual.
(1) Cultural Factors : Culture is the fundamental determination of a person’s wants & behaviour. The growing child acquires a set of values perceptions, Preferences & Behaviours through his or her family. Each culture consists of various subcultures that provide more specific identification. It includes nationalities, religions, social groups & geographic regions.
Every culture dictates its own unique patterns of social conduct. Within each religion there may be several sects & sub sects, there may be orthodox group & cosmopolitan groups. The do’s & don’ts listed out by religion & culture impacts the individual’s lifestyle & buying behaviour.
(2) Social Factors: Consumer’s behaviour is influenced by social factors such as reference groups, family, social roles & status. The buyer is living in a society, is influenced & There is a constant interaction between the individual & the groups to which he belongs. All these interactions affect him in his day to day life.
a. Reference Groups: A person’s reference groups consist of all the groups that have a direct or indirect influence on his attitude. They can be family friends, neighbours, co-worker, religious, professional & trade union groups. Reference groups expose an individual to new behaviours & lifestyles & influence attitude & self concept. Brands like Levi, Prologue & Planet M used teenage icon as brand Ambassadors for in store promotions.
b. Family: The family is the most important buying organization in society. From parents a person acquires an orientation toward religion politics & a sense of personal ambition, self worth & love. E.g. In traditional joint families, the influence of grandparents on major purchase decisions affect the lifestyles of younger generations. In urban India with the growth of nuclear families & both husband and wife working the role of women in major family decisions is prominent. Children & teenagers are being targeted by companies using the internet as an interactive device.
c. Role & Status: The person’s position in each group can be defined in terms of role & status. A role consist of all activities that a person is expected to perform. Each role carries a status. A Vice President of marketing has more status than a sales manager & a sales manager has more status than an office clerk & people choose those products that reflect & communicate their role & desired status in society.
(3) Personal Factors: The personal factors include the buyer’s age & stage in the life cycle, occupation & economic position, personality & self concept & lifestyle & values.
a. Age & Stage in the Life Cycle: People buy different products like food, cloths furniture & this is often age related. Trends like delayed marriages, children migrating to distant cities, tendency of professionals has resulted in different opportunities for marketers at different stages in consumer life cycle.
b. Occupation & Economic Position: Occupation also influences buyer’s behaviour. A blue collar worker will buy work clothes, work shoes & lunch boxes; a company president will buy dress suits, air travel & club memberships. Marketers try to identify the occupational groups & then make products according to their needs & demands. Product choice is greatly affected by economic circumstances – spendable income, savings & assets & attitude towards spending & savings.
c. Personality & Self Concept: Each person has personality characteristics that influence his / her buying behaviour. Personality means a set of distinguishing psychological traits that has to response to environmental stimuli. Personality can be a useful variable in analyzing consumer brand choice. The idea is that brands also have personalities & consumers like to choose those brands which suits or match their personality.
Importance of Consumer Behaviour
The consumer is the focus of marketing efforts. The modern concept spells out the real significance of buyer’s Behaviour. The modern marketing management tries to solve the basic problems of consumers in the area of consumption. To survive in the market, a firm has to be constantly innovating and understand the latest consumer needs and tastes. It will be extremely useful in exploiting marketing opportunities and in meeting the challenges that the Indian market offers. It is important for the marketers to understand the buyer behaviour due to the following reasons.
1) The study of consumer behaviour enables us to become a better consumer. It will help consumer to take more precise consumption related decisions.
2) It helps marketers to understand consumer buying behaviour and make better marketing decisions.
3) The size of the consumer market is constantly expanding and their preferences were also changing and becoming highly diversified. So without studying it, marketers cannot predict the future of their business.
4) It is significant for regulating consumption of goods and thereby maintaining economic stability.
5) It is useful in developing ways for the more efficient utilisation of resources of marketing. It also helps in solving marketing management problems in more effective manner.
6) Today consumers give more importance on environment friendly products. They are concerned about health, hygiene and fitness. They prefer natural products. Hence detailed study on upcoming groups of consumers is essential for any firm.
7) The growth of consumer protection movement has created an urgent need to understand how consumers make their consumption and buying decision.
8) Consumers’ tastes and preferences are ever changing. Study of consumer behaviour gives information regarding colour, design, size etc. which consumers want. In short, consumer behaviour helps in formulating of production policy.
9) For effective market segmentation and target marketing, it is essential to have an understanding of consumers and their behaviour.
10) Marketing managers regarded consumer behaviour discipline as an applied marketing science, if they could predict consumer behaviour, they could influence it. This approach has come to be known as positivism and the consumer researcher who are primarily concerned with predicting consumer behaviour are known as positivists.
11) As the marketing research began to study the buying behaviour of consumers, they soon realized that many consumers rebelled at using the identical products everyone else used, for example in case of purchase of house, interiors, car, and dress material etc. people prefers unique products. Consumer preferred differential products that they felt reflected their own special needs, personalities and lifestyles.