In the 21st century, people live in a world filled with choice. Individualism is one of the key values of modern society, and its function is structured accordingly in many regards. The contemporary system of capitalism allows people to find the goods and services they want or require with the freedom to choose what best suits one’s needs (Featherstone, 1987). The abundance of products available for purchase in any store is often astounding and overwhelming.
The task of promoting one’s products and securing sales presents the producers with a need to construct a unique brand image, an identity that will attract the right audience. A successful integration of a unique brand personality often results in better sales (Bairrada, Coelho and Lizanets, 2019). The competitive environment forces the manufacturers and distributors to take various factors about their consumers into account when presenting their offers. A field of study that takes into consideration how people buy and use various goods and services is called consumer behaviour.
This practice allows marketers to better understand the needs of the public and tailor their work accordingly. Many acquired and innate personal characteristics can influence a person’s choice in regards to their purchases. Age, gender, personality, one’s perception of self – these are all factors that can contribute considerably to a person’s consumer behaviour. This paper will focus on analysing the personal qualities that influence an individual’s choices in two particular scenarios and discuss the distinct categories of influence. The first situation describes how a number of customers purchase yoghurt; the second describes one person’s two-week-long shopping diary.
What Influences Consumer Behavior
The First Appendix
The first appendix details the behaviours of multiple people while purchasing yoghurt. A number of different product brands are present in different package sizes and flavours. The observations are all made on the same day, and the variety of available products is the same for all participants. An analysis of their behaviour can showcase the role gender and age play in the process of choosing.
Historically, the construct of gender has been an important aspect of marketing. As a term, gender refers to the spectrum of various traits and behaviours historically associated with males or females (Gender, no date) Marketers have used it as a key demographic for advertising their products and constructing the gender stereotypes people are accustomed to today. Separating the potential audience for a product and catering to the specific need of a group is effective in securing a client base and forging a strong brand image. Marketed items are often viewed through the lens of either femininity or masculinity.
Women’s products are usually associated with flower imagery, beauty, soft colours and textures (Wolin, 2003). Female-oriented items embody fragility and elegance. Products catered to men, alternatively, usually put emphasis on strength, dark and bold colours and images of machinery (Wolin, 2003). Masculine products centre on the theme of power, reliability and protection.
Such principles allow marketing to adhere to the socially accepted images of the male and female genders, while also influencing their perception in society. For example, the association of pink and blue with girls and boys respectively was instilled into popular consensus at around the 1950s specifically by marketers (Visconti, Maclaran and Bettany, 2018). The gender roles of men and women also play a big part in how they approach decision-making in regards to consumerism. Women are traditionally expected to be keepers of the family, tasked with taking care of children and ensuring the well-being of other family members.
In advertising, women are also portrayed as the caretakers of the family. Such care often includes considering the quality of purchased food. Research also shows that women display more “brand commitment, hedonic consumption and impulse buying” (Tifferet and Herstein, 2012, pp. 179). The women from the first appendix consistently show either the desire to check the ingredients and consider different options or make a fast purchase.
A need to check the ingredients corresponds with the need to care for oneself and their family, and quick purchasing decisions can be explained by brand loyalty. The men of this appendix, alternatively, either do not participate in choosing yoghurt or make a fast purchase. This behaviour can be explained by their tendency to make a quick decision that avoids taking too much time. A study by Seock and Bailey (2008) demonstrates that men tend to spend less time on the decision-making process and utilize efficient planning. The differences in male and female shopping tendencies are ultimately explained by a combination of societal conditioning and historically established roles the genders play in the family. While the concepts of sex roles are slowly becoming more flexible, it still plays a large part in many people’s consumer behaviour.
Age is another crucial factor in people’s choice in products and services. Starting with children, their desires play a large role in the behaviour of a family unit. Since a young kid cannot be expected to fully take care of themselves, the parent takes responsibility for providing them with life necessities and fulfilling their role as a caretaker. The need for products such as food, clothes, toys and accommodations specifically for a child creates a niche marketers can fulfil. The existence of a child indirectly causes its parents to change their shopping behaviours to suit the newly-formed need (Šramová, 2017). The minors can also directly affect the consumer behaviour of their caretakers by being involved in the decision-making process (Bertol et al., 2017).
Young children are generally susceptible to advertising through mass media and television, making an appeal to their desires effective in securing sales (Šramová, 2017). Shaping the appearance of the product to be more colourful and catered to a child is also useful in attracting their attention.
Marketers often use recognisable cartoon characters or mascots in packaging and advertising, making products fun and interesting for younger audiences. In the example of buying yoghurt, in the instances where parents consulted their children on the matter, they always chose the cartoon-packaged product. Old people are also a specific group that warrant attention in marketing. There is a limited number of research done on the topic, and the need to better cater to the desires of people over 65 persists. Researchers say that older people tend to prefer brands that have a long-established history and make better decisions with fewer options (Carpenter and Yoon, 2011).
The first tendency is likely connected with brand loyalty, nostalgia and possible rejection of change (Carpenter and Yoon, 2011). The second peculiarity, on the other hand, mostly pertains to the degradation of brain function with age. The study points out that the elderly are best to be presented with simplified and straightforward information (Carpenter and Yoon, 2011). Individuals of different ages have their own unique demands and approaches to shopping, and the need to accommodate all possible demographics still exists in the marketing industry.
Life Cycle Stage
The concept of a family life cycle stage, while less widely used, is also useful in analysing what influences consumer behaviour. As a term, it refers to the distinction between various stages of development a family has over time. Typically, these stages for a person would be a single adult, a freshly married couple, family with young children, and family in later life. The development of a family unit and subsequent personal growth of individuals re-shapes their needs in regards to their shopping behaviour (Hawks and Ackerman, 1990). When choosing a product, a person considers the well-being of the not only themselves but their whole family, impacting the decision-making. An ability to understand the changing needs of a collective allows marketers to gain a more nuanced knowledge of their client base and offer better products.
The Second Appendix
In the second appendix, an individual’s two-week shopping diary is presented, showcasing the importance of a variety of personal factors play on the decision-making process. An analysis of this document allows for an examination of a number of factors influencing customer behaviour. A person’s personality plays a major role in this situation. The diary shows the role of previous experience, advertising, habits and other factors on a person’s customer behaviour.
Personality, as a complex combination of actions and patterns that emerge under the influence of various factors, understandably affects a person’s customer behaviour. By definition, it “includes behavioural characteristics, both inherent and acquired, that distinguish one person from another” (Holzman, 2020 para. 1). It is difficult to pinpoint exactly what parts of human life define their personality, but it can be generally understood through interactions between the person and their surrounding environment. Some people can be found to be caring and considerate, some cold and calculated. An individual may display differing levels of ease in socialization and interactions with others. For example, the person writing the shopping diary in Appendix 2 displays a large susceptibility to advertising and the opinions of others.
They bought a science fiction novel after reading a positive review of it and also purchased a Blu-ray and a grill after seeing advertisements about them. The best way to take a person’s individual responses and needs into account in marketing is by using targeted advertising (Rouse, 2017). Targeted advertising uses information about a particular individual and their interests to promote a product or a service that is deemed to be suitable for them (Marotta, Zhang and Acquisti, 2016). In the case of Appendix 2, such strategy helped the author to get a Blu-ray they wanted through Amazon. The person, upon being recommended this particular product based on their previous purchase history, found the advertisement helpful and acquired the film.
Previous experience with a particular service or item influences customer response. By being familiar with a particular product or being allowed to try it out for a period of time, an individual gets to know its pros and cons, building a sense of familiarity between the individual and the brand (Schwager and Meyer, 2007). People are more likely to continue using a product they enjoyed than to switch for something unfamiliar (Alshurideh, Nicholson and Xiao, 2012). This can give a particular product an advantage before its competitors. The individual writing the two-week diary, for example, decides to buy an anti-virus of a particular brand after experiencing its free trial. The person’s choice was largely based on developed familiarity with the interface and unwillingness to consider other alternatives.
Another term that is beneficial in discussing the personal impact on consumer behaviour is self-concept. In general, the term refers to the way a person perceives themselves. The knowledge of oneself comes with personal development, actively being influenced by surrounding circumstances and other individuals. The self-concept includes a number of views a person holds about their nature, including their social, physical and emotional aspects. The process of developing self-concept starts through early childhood and adolescence and continues through various social interactions. The action of buying and owning new possessions plays as big of a role in socialization as the interactions with other people (Ahuvia, 2005).
Self-concept can be treated as a measure for how highly an individual regards themselves and determines their own worth. In marketing, the term is usually described in two distinct components: self-concept and ideal self-concept (Sirgy, 1982). The ideal concept is the standard a person sets for themselves and tries to reach through various means (Sirgy, 1982). In regard to consumer behaviour, this notion plays an especially big role influencing the decision-making process to a large degree.
The products available for purchase can fulfil a person’s need to achieve their ideal self-concept increasing their desirability. Possessions of an individual, which are instinctually regarded as part of the self, and the acquisition of new items give people a sense of fulfilment (Belk, 1988). A study has found that acquisition of products associated with luxury and prestige had a positive impact on people’s need for improvement (Toth, 2014). People are more likely to choose products that increase their sense of self-worth and bring them closer to their ideal self-concept.
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