Consumer Behaviour for Future Marketers

Introduction

Economical and social responsible purchasing behaviours of consumers have become significant determinant of consumer behaviour. Analysis of consumer behaviour is carried out in a systematic manner using various consumer behaviour theories and models. Consumer behaviour theories have been applied to study consumer behaviour; however, gaps still exist between the traditional and contemporary consumer behaviours that warrant further studies.

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Consumers are generally influenced by two factors: internal influences and external influences. Internal influences are personal feelings and thoughts that include self-concept, motivation, attitudes, emotions and perceptions.

These factors generally influence perception, purchasing patterns, and attitude customers develop towards a product or a service offered by business. Besides, these factors are directly linked to internal and external interacting social aspects that control the pattern of thoughts and expressed feelings. Reflecting on internal and external influences, this paper develops a comprehensive matrix for purchasing patterns exhibited by customers and merges the same with existing literature to establish their significance in future marketing practices.

Class Note and Personal Reflection

Class Notes on Consumer Behaviour

During class lessons, I have learnt the aspects of consumer behaviour and how it affects the uptake/rejection of vast numbers of new products in different groups which are launched globally by companies. I have learnt the current issues surrounding growing advertising costs and increasing competition as major factors which made the successful implementation of a new product more difficult in recent years.

From the class topics, I established that previous studies had been relatively fragmented with contradictory results. A large part of these literature concerns differentiable products, thus, may not be explicitly applicable in a service such as online shopping. This made it easy to understand the intrinsic differences in consumer behaviours. The other studies on consumer behaviour have largely focused on how consumers adopt and use purchase decision. Particularly, the class notes emphasized on the past history of consumer purchasing adoption and intention and related the same to present.

Class Notes on Understanding Consumer Behaviour

In addition, I reviewed class notes on consumer behaviour and found out that several external influences affected consumer’s behaviour. These influences include individual culture and sub-culture, group associations, social cultural and household structure. They are classified as negative externalities that determine consumer’s behaviour. I have established that Consumers’ behaviours are influenced by consumers’ attitude, opinions, beliefs, and values which shape consumer’s buying decisions.

Products that consumers view to be violating their cultural belief often attract fewer customers. In fact, cultural belief influences and dictates how consumers meet their needs. Often, customers tend to associate satisfaction and value of a good on cultural believe or inclination in line with preset societal mind set. Culture controls dressings, morals, and even association. As long as a service or a good is associated with positive result, the sales for such a good are likely to sky rocket.

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On the other hand, the reverse often leads to damning or uncomfortable response from potential customers who may appear reluctant to play along. Therefore, I agree that acceptance of a good or service is a reflection of its responsiveness to culture and a target group’s social affiliation as indicated in the class notes. However, the aspect of psychology of consumers proved very difficult to authenticate. Notwithstanding, I share same sentiments with my lecturer on complexity and importance of studying consumer’s behaviour. Specifically, as indicated in class readings, the various consumer theories are vital in understanding psychology of potential consumers and perceptions on a product.

Article Readings

Brand Perception

To instigate a comprehensive understanding of the concepts surrounding consumer’s behaviour and how the same influence brand perception, I carried out research in several scholarly articles on consumer’s behaviour. In the past decade, articles and research on consumer’s behaviour have increased as a result of continuous need by companies to understand their consumers. The first article is, “Positive and negative brand beliefs and brand defection/uptake”, by Winchester (2006). This article is the most appropriate for building my hypothesis due to its deep reflection on consumer’s beliefs and how the same affect the brand uptake/defection.

Specifically, the article focuses on positive and negative behaviour orientation of consumers towards a brand. Besides, it studies groups in the context of consumer’s behaviour and represents individuals who share set of common values, norms and beliefs, which have significant influences on consumers’ behaviour and decision making process. This article is important in understanding general beliefs on brands and facilitates a comprehensive grasp of how beliefs influence behaviour and perception, especially when planning to expand a brand or re-launch in the market.

Winchester (2006) provides an updated research on consumer’s response. He established that the main reason that informed decision was the fact that such respondents belonged to different categories of belief which influenced perception on a brand. Though I shared this perception before, Winchester (2006) had successfully quantified the magnitude of influence beliefs affected brand rejection/uptake. Thus, in order to carry out meaningful discussions in marketing, it is vital to establish different categories of positive and negative beliefs and implement a balanced approach in introducing a brand or re-launching.

The second article, “Brand Usage: a Factor in Consumer Beliefs”, by Castleberry and Ehrenberg (1990) forms part of the belief cycle and covers model of intention, adoption, and continuance in understanding consumer’s behaviour. Castleberry and Ehrenberg (1990) argue that expectation and attitude define belief on a brand. Upon reading this article, I have found out that behaviour is principally determined by intent. This article identifies other factors like perceived behavioural control, subjective norms, and attitudes which are significant in understanding normative, behavioural, and control values about that behaviour.

After reviewing this article, I established that consumer’s satisfaction with a service or good happened through their repeated purchases. Therefore, consumer’s satisfaction is expressed via the belief gap that exists between the perceived performance and actual performance. Marketers should take advantage of this knowledge to benefit from loyalty as a result of initial satisfaction and repeated purchase.

Advertisement and Consumer Behaviour

Another interesting article on essence of marketing to influence consumer’s behaviour is “Advertising: Strong force or weak force? Two views of an ocean apart”, by Jones Philip. This well researched article asserts that promotion is vital in determining perception of consumers in the market. Jones (1990) states that advertising is a very strong force in controlling the general perception in marketing (Jones, 1990, p. 3). Sharing same sentiments, I consider that positive belief can be fostered by relevant advertisement which aims to restore confidence and quality in service as perceived by targeted customers. Through this, undecided customers may be persuaded into accepting new brands and increasing purchase on the existing brands.

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The fourth article is “Competing retailers generally have the same sorts of shoppers” by Kennedy and Ehrenberg. Specifically, Kennedy and Ehrenberg (2001) introduced the aspects of planning and segmentation as means for managing consumer’s behaviour. Confirming my previous assumption, the authors identify attitude, demography, and advertising profile as significant influencial agent of consumer’s behaviour. Generally, in marketing, the three factors operate optimally when proper positioning accompanies brand promotion. Since most businesses operate in ‘unsegmented’ market, I concluded that customer behaviour could be influenced by establishing a specific targeting mechanism and advertising to maintain positive belief.

Price Adjustments

Besides, the article “Consistent Consumer Responses to Price Changes” by Scriven and Ehrenberg discusses brand choice as a part of consumer’s behaviour. Specifically, Scriven and Ehrenberg (2004) acknowledge the fact that increase in prices is likely to lead to negative potential customer’s response to a brand. However, confirming my previous perception, the authors note the essence of managed price elasticity and brand share to test the prices against competition.

This article was relevant to my quest towards understanding procedures for managing the effects of size and prices of a brand. This concept is necessary for marketers towards understanding the projected consumer’s behaviour response before actual increase in price.

As a continuation of the previous concept, the article “The after-effects of price-related consumer promotions” by Ehrenberg, Hammond, and Goodhardt discusses the short-term effects of price variance instigated by promotional strategies. Ehrenberg, Hammond, and Goodhart (1994) report the essence of promotional pricing variances as a means of maintaining positive belief among customers. Through special discounts and special rates, customers may feel rewarded for loyalty and may eventually purchase more of the brand.

Sharing same sentiment, I believe that applying strategic techniques in marketing products and services is important to marketers to avoid being obsolete. Thus, through product differentiation and focusing on the service-dormant paradigm promotions, the consumer’s behaviour will be maintained because customer’s attitudes and motivation significantly influence the consumer’s behaviours.

Marketing Strategies

“Market segmentation for competitive brands”, article by Hammond, discuses segmentation as a part of consumer’s behaviour study. Hammond (1996) explains 4Ps marketing mix defined by Product, Place, Price, and Promotion as a part of market segmentation. Due to the unique characteristics of the service industry, such as intangibility, inseparability, and heterogeneity, Hammond (1996) argues that all customers in the service are indirectly or directly encounter. Thus, segmentation is important in establishing strong marketing links between the company and customers.

The concept of product presentation and consumer’s loyalty as a part of consumer’s behaviour is addressed in the article “Customer loyalty and customer loyalty programs” written by Uncles, Dowling, and Hammond.

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Specifically, Uncles, Dowling, and Hammond (2003) discuss the reality of customer’s loyalty as a part of successful marketing strategies aimed at restoring positive consumer’s behaviour. Confirming my previous assumptions, the authors state that these programs guarantee that the service will be very important in ensuring that new and existing customers are given the opportunity to shop conveniently and confidentiality. Customer’s loyalty is important in marketing since it forms the part of advertisement through referrals from satisfied customers.

Notwithstanding, the article “A marketing economy of sale-big brands lose less of their customer base than small brands” by Sharp, Riebe, and Dawes identifies the relationship between profitability and market share. Sharp, Riebe, and Dawes (2002) define the mechanisms, procedures and flow of activities through which big brands deliver products to customers at a cheaper price due to economies of scale compared to the small brands.

Since their customer’s base is big, such companies will find it easier to expand and maintain a good share of loyal customers than the small brands. Sharing the same sentiment, big brands have household names since they have penetrated the market. Through timely delivery, marketers will be in a position to align brand(s) to immediate needs of the customer’s base. Generally, customer’s base determines success of the marketing and eventual sale since consumer’s behaviour is determined by reception of the marketing strategy.

Consumer behaviour theories

The most interesting article on consumer’s behaviour is “Purchase loyalty is polarized into either repertoire or subscription patterns” by Sharp, Wright, and Goodhardt. According to Sharp, Wright, and Goodhardt (2002), repertoire and subscription markets control customer’s loyalty to a brand. Reflectively, the authors assert that consumers’ repeated purchasing as a behaviour is influenced by the ability of marketers to develop a middle action level between repertoire and subscription markets. Reflectively, this aspect leads to insightful gain in customer’s loyalty behaviour. In the contemporary marketing strategy, balancing these two markets will ensure that customer’s base is maintained and provides further room for expansion at minimal conflict with current marketing plan.

The last article is the work called “Marketing gurus and fads: approach with caution” by John Dawes. According to Dawes (2003), consumer’s behaviour on purchasing and perception of a brand is determined by advertising through appealing to ideal in fancy and catchy words that are easy to interpret. In union with my previous assumption, the author states that emotional branding determines the overall perception and purchasing behaviour since most consumers would prefer to be identified with the ideal fad or fashion.

Therefore, marketing strategy as a part of consumer’s behaviour analysis should be aligned to the ideal as perceived by consumers. Generally, the catchier an advertisement is the high chances of uptake are. On the other hand, less catchy advertisements may not work well with consumer’s perception on such brand.

Impacts of the Readings on Future Marketers

Current position of consumer behaviour literature

From the above readings, marketers are provided with a rich knowledge on consumer’s behaviour as dependent on the degree of perceived positive and negative beliefs on a brand. Therefore, through improved advertising, balanced prices, and quality, marketers will be in a position to monitor emotions and motivations which serve as the emerging forces within consumers that activate certain behaviours. These emotions control direct and indirect behaviour inclination that arouses the instinct to buy or refuse the purchase. Though a temporary state of mind and emotions challenge the market preference and direct judgment to buy or reject a brand. These articles facilitate the process of examining the decision process and influence upon it in terms of store and brand characteristics and consumer’s behaviours.

Conclusion

Consumer’s perception is the general evaluation that consumers engage in before deciding to purchase a particular product or service. Attitudes are direct personal experiences that are influenced by consumers’ personality, advertisement, family and friends. Perceptions are unique ways through which consumers internalize and interpret information about a product. Consumer’s engagement is essential towards winning and maintaining a client especially in a competitive market setting where the best offer carries the day. The offer can be in the form of price, quality, and quantity. When information on perception is verifiable, it is easy for a company to execute a well researched plan within allocated resources. The processed information is used by consumers in making ‘the buying decision’.

References List

Castleberry, S., & Ehrenberg, A 1990, “Brand Usage: A Factor in Consumer Beliefs,” Marketing Research Journal, pp. 1-23.

Dawes, J 2003, “Marketing gurus and fads: approach with caution,” World Advertising Research Centre Journal, pp. 15-18.

Ehrenberg, A., Hammond, K., & Goodhardt, G 1994, “The After-Effects of Price-Related Consumer Promotions,” Journal of Advertising Research, pp. 1-20.

Hammond, K 1996, “Market Segmentation for Competitive Brands,” European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 30 No. 12, pp. 39-49.

Jones, P 1990, “Advertising: strong force or weak force? Two views an ocean apart,” International Journal of Advertising, Vol. 9, No. 3.

Kennedy, R & Ehrenberg, A 2001, ‘Competing retailers generally have the same sorts of shoppers’, Journal of Marketing Communications, vol. 7, 19-26.

Scriven, J., & Ehrenberg, A 2004, “Consistent consumer responses to price changes,” Australasian Marketing Journal, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 1-39.

Sharp, B., Riebe, E., & Dawes, J 2002, “A Marketing Economy of Scale-Big Brands Lose less of their Customer Base than Small Brands,” Marketing Bulletin Journal, Vol. 13 No. 1, pp. 1-8.

Sharp, B., Wright, M., & Goodhardt, G 2002, “Purchasing Loyalty is Polarized into either Repertoire or Subscription Patterns,” Australasian Marketing Journal, Vol. 10 No. 3.

Uncles, M., Dowling, G., & Hammond, K 2003, “Consumer Loyalty and Customer Loyalty Programs,” The Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 20 No. 5, pp. 294-314.

Winchester, M 2006, “Positive and negative brand beliefs and brand defection/uptake,” European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 42 No. 6, pp. 553-570.

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