Buyers or consumers, at any given time, are generally influenced by a set of motives rather than just on motive. The strength of an individuals’ motives may vary at different times and occasions. Every person has needs. Some of these needs are basic to sustaining life and are in-born with such as air, water, food and shelter etc. Acquired needs are learnt needs that we acquire as a result of being brought up in a particular culture and society.
A product or service should have a consumer to buy it. Thus, it is very necessary to
make a study on the behavioural aspect of the consumer i.e., there must be reasonable
answer to the following questions:
What does a consumer buy?
Where from does he buy?
When does he buy?
How much does he buy?
Why does he buy?
Though the first four questions can be answered by carrying out statistical data based
market research known as 'retail audit', 'prescription audit', etc., the answer to the last
question is indeed a very difficult one and can be answered by carrying out 'motivational
research'. Nevertheless the answer to the 'Why' of consumer behaviour is the most
important factor to any organisation while designing a successful product/service and its
marketing strategy.
Definition of 'Consumer Behaviour'
A consumer is a person who purchases goods and services for his own personal needs.
Consumer Behaviour can be defined as those acts of 'individuals' which are directly
involved in making decisions to spend their available resources (time, money, energy) in
obtaining and using goods and services.
General Characteristics of Consumer Behaviour
The reason for studying consumer behaviour lies in its general characteristics, as it may
affect present day business operation. These characteristics can be described as below:
The Consumer is the King.
The Consumer Behaviour can be known.
The consumer's behaviour can be influenced.
Culture is a complex amalgam of symbols (attitudes, beliefs, values, language, etc.) and artefacts created by a society and handed down from generation to generation. The way people perform their biological activities such as eating is culturally determined. Thus, a hungry Indian consumer may like to eat rice and dal whereas a hungry American consumer may like to eat a hamburger, followed by a Coke. Cultures do change over time; for example two-income nuclear families; changing gender roles are the latest cultural trends. There is a diffusion of culture across countries since we live in a global village.
Example: American culture stresses achievement, success, efficiency, progress, material comfort, etc., whereas Indian culture emphasizes peace, harmony, truth, forgiveness,
service, etc.
Within a general culture there are smaller sub-cultures distinguished by the specific identification and socialisation of their members, with their distinctive behavioural patterns. For example, within the general Indian Culture there exist specific sub-cultures like
Punjabi, Marwari, Bengali, South Indian, etc., which have their own distinctive characteristics.
Consumers' behaviours are determined to a great extend by social forces and groups
such as reference groups, family etc.:
Reference groups: Groups of people who interact formally or informally influencing
(direct or indirect) each others' attitudes and behaviour. Membership groups are
groups of people having a direct influence on a person. There are two types of
membership groups : primary and secondary.
Primary groups: interact regularly and informally, e.g., family, friends, neighbours
and co-workers
l Secondary groups: Interacts occasionally and formally, i.e. trade unions,
professional associations, members of socio-cultural societies.
People are significantly influenced by their reference groups both for product and brand
choices; sometimes mainly on choice of brand in such items as furniture and clothing,
choice of product in such items as beer and cigarettes, or both choices in such items as
automobiles and colour televisions. Marketers also try to reach opinion leaders in these
reference groups. These opinion leaders are persons who have significant influence on
large number of members of the group, such as a village sarpanch, or the head of a
religious order. Professional brand/product endorsements in the media by celebrities are
one way of influencing consumer buying behaviour.
Family: Consumers' family members are the most influencing reference groups, which
shapes his buying behaviour.
Now it is observed that there is a shift in the buying decision centre i.e., the family
member who has major influence on the buying decision. Earlier it used to be the eldest male member of the family who decided on purchase of house/flat, car, etc., while the female members decided major household products but nowadays these types of decision
patterns are changing when female members (even children) have strong influence on
such purchase as real estate, car, etc., which can be attributed to the impact of education/media advertising.
Roles & Status: The buying behaviour of an individual depends on the type of role an
individual is expected to play while purchasing, e.g., an individual plays the role of a
father while buying birthday gifts for his son or the same individual is a husband buying
The buyer's own characteristics such as age, stages in life cycle, occupation, lifestyle
and personality, etc., are again determinants of his buying behaviour.
Age: A person's behaviour and habits change as he grows older; for example, a child's
deep interest in toys and games gets transformed into collecting material objects automobiles
and houses as he grows to adulthood, and in later life may again shift away from material
things due to changing priorities.
Stages in Life Cycle: Consumption is shaped by the family lifecycle, for example a
young, independent bachelor will normally exhibit a different pattern of consumption
from that of a middle aged family man with dependents to look after.
Nine stages of family life cycle (mentioned by William D Wells and George Gubar) are
given below :
Bachelor stage: Young, single, not living at home. Few financial burdens, fashion opinion
leaders. Recreation oriented. Buy: basic home equipment, furniture, cars, vacations.
Newly married couples: Young, no children. Highest purchase rate and highest average
purchase of durables : cars, appliances, furniture, vacations.
Full nest I: Youngest child under six. Home purchasing at peak. Liquid assets low.
Interested in new usually heavily, advertised products. Buy : washers, dryers, TV, baby
food, chest rubs and cough medicines, vitamins, dolls, wagons, sleds, skates.
Full nest II: Youngest child six or over. Financial position better. Less influenced by
advertising. Buy larger size packages, multiple unit deals. Buy : many foods, cleaning
materials, bicycles, music lessons, pianos.
Full nest III: Older married couples with dependent children. Financial position still
better. Some children gets jobs. Hard to influence with advertising. High average purchase
of durables: new, more tasteful furniture, auto travel, unnecessary appliances, boats,
dental services, magazines.
Empty nest I: Older married couples, no children living with them, head of household in
labour force. Home ownership at peak. Most satisfied with financial position and money
saved. Interested in travel recreation, self-education. Make gifts and contributions. Not
interested in new products. Buy : vacation, luxuries, home improvements.
Empty nest II: Older married. No children living at home, head of household retired.
Drastic cut in income. Keep home. Buy: medical appliances, medical-care products.
Solitary survivor: In labour force. Income still good but likely to sell home.
Solitary survivor: Retired. Same medical and product needs as other retired group;
drastic cut in income. Special need for attention, affection, and security.
Occupation: The nature of one's occupation can influence buying behaviour. For example,
blue collared workers tend to buy work clothes, work shoes whereas white collared
corporate executives prefer to buy expensive, tailor made suits.
Life Style: The patterns in which people live, spend time and money are collectively called
their lifestyles. It is the 'whole person' as expressed in activities, interests and opinions. The
Marketers' task is to find the relationships between their products and lifestyle groups. The marketer can find out the psychographics (use of psychology and demographics to understand an individual) of the consumer and design a suitable brand to match the consumer psychographics. The Complete Man positioning of Raymond Suiting and Things go better with coca-cola positioning of coca-cola are examples of successful brand positioning based on consumer psycho-graphics. Another most popular available classification system based on psychographic measurement is SRI Consulting Business Intelligence's (SRIC-BI) VALSTM Framework.

People are classified according to their tendencies and availability of resources such as
actualisers, fulfilled, achievers, experiencers, believers, strivers, makers and strugglers

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