Consumer motivation is a concept that has gained massive popularity among marketers as it enables them to understand their buying behavior. In this paper, the focus was to discuss the relevance of this concept in the current competitive business environment. The research relied on secondary sources, especially books and journal articles. The study shows that consumer motivation is defined by several factors such as one’s social class, peer pressure, beliefs, attitude, and prevailing factors in society. The study suggests that marketers should remain committed to understanding consumer motivation to determine what products to deliver to them and appropriate marketing strategies that would have the best impact.
Consumer motivation is becoming one of the most important issues that marketers focus on when promoting a given product in the market. According to Ordun, when customers plan to purchase a given product, their desire is to meet a given need (51). When presented with an array of products that can meet such needs, they have to make a choice of what to buy based on various factors. Understanding factors that define customers’ buying behavior make it possible for firms to improve their products and marketing strategies. The message that is passed to customers in promotional campaigns should reflect the expectations of the customers and the superiority of the product in the market.
The ability to understand the mind of customers is not only critical in promotional campaigns but also in procurement and production processes. Some customers are very sensitive about the ingredients used in a product they consume. Such an item may meet their needs in a perfect way, but when an ingredient included is considered undesirable, the client may opt for an alternative product that is less valuable (Lantos 31). In this paper, the researcher will discuss the relevance of consumer motivation in the current business environment.
Review of Literature
The concept of consumer motivation has attracted the attention of many scholars over the past decades as competition becomes increasingly stiff in many industries. Stephens defines consumer motivation as “an internal state that drives people to identify and buy products or services that fulfill conscious and unconscious needs or desires” (74). It explains why a customer would prefer using American Airlines to JetBlue.
According to Rezvani, during and soon after the industrial revolution, large multinational companies such as Eastman Kodak and J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. did not have to worry about stiff competition in the market (128). However, that has changed, as new firms emerge, competing for the same customers. These challenges have forced firms to come up with effective strategies that would enable them to remain sustainable.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
When defining the concept of consumer motivation, it is clear that it involves the internal state of a person that defines their choices and buying decisions. Rezvani explains that people make their purchasing decisions based on their needs and position in society (124). The decision that the rich make when planning to purchase a given product is different from that of a homeless person who is on the verge of starvation. Figure 1 below shows Maslow’s model of the hierarchy of needs, and how it defines consumer motivation.
At the bottom of the pyramid are physiological needs such as food, water, sleep, and clothing. At the very basic, an individual cannot survive without these items. When one has achieved physiological needs, next on the ladder are the safety needs, which include protection, a good house, stable employment, a family, and health products. The next stage is the need for a sense of belonging. Such individual values friendship and intimacy.
Beyond this level are the esteem needs such as confidence, respect of others, and achievements. At the apex are self-actualization needs, which include acceptance, a feeling that one is important to and needed by society, and the ability to solve issues that affect society. The model assumes that for one to move to the next level of the pyramid, needs at lower levels would be met effectively. It means that one cannot have esteem needs when they have not met safety needs. People at the bottom of the pyramid are less demanding as they only need the basics. However, those at the top have specific tastes and preferences whenever they plan to purchase a given item.
Factors That Influence Consumer Behavior
Consumer behavior is significantly impacted by the motivation of a given customer amongst other factors. According to Kimmel, factors that define a customer’s decision to purchase a given product include their perception towards it, attitude and beliefs, learning, and psychological factors (36). Figure 1 below identifies these factors. It is necessary to discuss each of these factors in detail.
Perception is one of the most important factors that define buyer behavior in the market. According to Forbes, the perception of customers is defined by many factors such as the promotional campaigns that a firm employs (91). Luke’s Organic is promoted in the market as a healthy snack that is appropriate for both adults and minors. Specific words in a given product such as ‘organic’ in the above brand name also help in emphasizing a given perception that customers have towards a given product. The experiences of others when using a given product can also influence the perception of customers in the market.
Attitude and Beliefs
Attitude and beliefs also play an integral role in defining the perception of customers in the market. According to Rishi, Muslims believe that a pig is an unclean animal and as such, pork should not be eaten because of religious teachings (23). Candies are popular around the world, including most of the Islamic states in the Middle East and North Africa. However, when ingredients of this product are broadened to include pork, as is always the case in the United States, most of the customers in this region would not consider purchasing it (Kimmel 77). Religion, cultural practices, and stereotypical factors all define customers’ beliefs and attitudes.
The knowledge that people gain through the learning process also influences their behavior when purchasing a given product. Cholesterol is needed by the body system in moderate quantities. However, when it is taken in larger quantities than what the body can process, it becomes an agent of dangerous diseases such as heart problems (Lantos 88). People who have learned about the dangers of cholesterol would be keen to avoid products considered high in this substance as a way of staying healthy.
The motivation that an individual gets from colleagues may also influence their buying behavior. Forbes argues that peer pressure is an important factor that helps customers to make purchasing decisions. When peers praise a given product such as a Ferrari, a perception is created that the product is a show of class (58). When the individual has the financial capacity to purchase the product, they will ignore all other brands and settle for this product because of peer pressure.
Psychological factors also play a critical role in defining the decision of customers when planning to purchase a given product. Zhang argues that sometimes an individual may avoid purchasing a luxury product when others are suffering from catastrophes such as tornado strikes, starvation, or a major outbreak of contagious diseases (61). They may opt to donate part of their money to those who are suffering as a way of elevating their conditions. Such psychological factors are often defined by current events in society.
Consumer motivation is an important factor that determines the buying behavior of customers in the market. The ability of a firm to achieve success in the current competitive business environment depends on the marketing strategies that it employs. According to Rezvani, success goes beyond delivering quality products to customers in the market (133). The following factors should be considered by the marketing management unit in relation to consumer motivation.
Understanding the Motivation
It is important for the marketing unit to start by understanding the motivation behind the buyer decision-making process. According to Cole, the primary reason why people purchase cars is to meet the need of moving from one place to another conveniently (67). Beyond these needs, other factors determine whether an individual would purchase a Ferrari, Mercedes Benz, or a Toyota Corolla.
Those who want to show their class to society would opt to purchase Ferrari because it is associated with the rich. Customers keen on having cars that would assure them of their safety would purchase Mercedes Benz or Subaru. The category of those who are motivated by the price of the car would consider cheaper brands such as Toyota. As a marketer, Lantos emphasizes the need for a firm to understand the motivation of each customer using Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs (98). The social class of a customer makes it easy to determine their preferences in the market.
Influencing the Motivation
Marketers may need to go beyond understanding factors that motivate their clients to make specific purchases. It may be necessary to influence their motivation as well. Promotional campaigns help to redefine the perception of clients in the market. It means that the message should be as convincing as possible. Product proposition should depend on the class of customers targeted. Those who are looking for classy products should be convinced that the brand offers the best quality and that it is popular among the rich.
The product should be promoted as an item that an individual can use to demonstrate their class in society. When the item targets those who are price-sensitive, the comparison with other brands may be necessary. Customers should be convinced that the product’s price is the best in the market compared with others offering similar quality.
As such, marketing should be based on the motivation to achieve the desired outcome. Ahmad et al. believe that when a firm is keen on expanding its market share, it is necessary to develop different products targeting different segments of the market (12). Toyota Motor Corporation has excelled in this strategy. A brand new Toyota Prius is as cheap as only $ 22,000 while Toyota GT-One Road Version costs as much as $ 1.3 million (Kimmel 67). It is clear that this firm is keen on targeting both the rich and the poor as a way of expanding its market share in both the developed and developing nations around the world.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Understanding consumer motivation is one of the most critical factors in marketing management. Different factors define the decision that a customer makes when planning to purchase a given item. Social class, gender, religious beliefs and attitude, cultural practices, and one’s perception are some of the main factors that define consumer motivation and behavior in the market. When one understands these factors, it becomes easy to determine the appropriate products and promotional strategies that should be used to achieve specific goals. The following recommendations should be considered when defining marketing strategies based on consumer motivation:
- The marketing unit should conduct thorough market research to understand the needs, cultural practices, and current tastes and preferences of customers in the market before developing a product;
- Promotional messages developed by customers should be based on the information obtained from the market research. The message should reflect the expectations and desires of customers;
- The marketing unit should be committed to influencing the motivation of customers through promotional campaigns to ensure that they remain loyal to a company’s brand;
- When a firm is keen on expanding its market share, it may need to come up with a broad range of products that target different market segments.
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