Understanding consumer behaviour basics is an essential element in the development of customer relations management (Huju J, Dammrich T, 2021) PART 2/3

Part 2/3

Kindly read Part 1 from last week before continuing with part 2

Other Factors

In addition to the four psychological processes there is quite a number of other issues that can found in the studied literature.  These issues are of major importance when the final buying process is being formed within an individual.

Values

Values are usually quite general in their nature and they apply to many situations. Consumer behaviour is often value guided because the consumer believes that a particular purchase will add certain values in his/her life.  As a matter of fact, many studies today support the major importance of a value-based label.

Commitment

Consumers react to marketing messages in different ways. A consumer’s relation (=commitment) to a product reflects their values and needs. It also reflects needs and wishes.  A deeper commitment leads to involvement.

What do we mean by involvement?  Very often involvement refers to the amount money, time, thought, energy and other resources consumers use before purchasing a product.  It is one of the fundamental concepts used to clarify the consumers’ buying process. Low cost, low involvement products are likely to be familiar to the purchaser, involve a single use and involve little risk.  High cost, high involvement products, on the other hand, tend to be durable products involving significant perceived risk and price plays an important role in determining deal valuation, continued search and purchase intent.

Some consumer information search frameworks model pre-purchase search and ongoing search, the latter being the primary subject of their study.  Involvement in the purchase was a primary determinant of pre-purchase search.  Learning about a product to make a better purchase decision is considered the consumer’s primary motive for search.  The outcomes of pre-purchase search were increased product and market knowledge, better purchase decisions and increased satisfaction with the purchase outcome.  Encouraging search to the point of preparedness to purchase is desirable if the goal is to sell more product.

Finally, the link between the needs/values and the marketing message then determine a consumer’s attention (=commitment).  Relationship marketing (RM) can be used to create or increase commitment.  The discussion of commitment and loyalty of consumers added new words in the marketing vocabulary like partnerships, alliances and key accounts. Joining various loyalty programs offered by sellers (airline miles for example), consumers volunteer in the transaction of their personal behaviour data and remaining loyal is strongly dependent on continued satisfaction.

Attitudes

Attitude is a lasting, general evaluation of people, objects, advertisements or issues. This means a basic need to evaluate things either positively or negatively.  Attitudes consist of elements like beliefs, intentions or affects.  An important element in the creation process of an attitude is the consistency between these elements.  Changing attitudes can be challenging especially if the marketer does not understand how attitudes are formed and changed.

Personality

There is a clear difference in the Western and Eastern ways of how the consumers feel about themselves.  The Eastern “me” stresses the importance of the social group behind the individual identity whereas in the Western culture it is more a “just me” concept; individuality is stressed. The “self” is a concept which reflects a consumer’s attitude towards him/herself. Each consumer’s personality has several selves and each of these selves use different approaches in their behaviour as consumers.  The sex identity is one of the strongest.  This is followed by the conception of body. The personality variables play a crucial part when consumer analysis is carried out and the marketing conclusions drawn from them.

Group Influence and Opinion Leadership

Most humans belong (or want to belong) to one or several social groups. In these groups they wish to be accepted by others and this has an impact on their purchase behaviour. People within these groups have an influence on the other members depending on their social power.  These powers may include powers like information, expert, legitimate or coercive powers. The opinions of the individuals with special powers will influence others.  There is a danger that when being a member of a group one starts to lose their own identity. Word-of -mouth communication about products plays an important role within the groups. Social media can be a powerful influence on individuals and it is important that sellers understand the use of social media and influencers to shape consumer behaviour.

One non-stop customer experience model was developed to recognize the impacts of the internet and social media on the purchase journey and compare it to a traditional conceptualization of the purchase funnel.  The Accenture model suggests that evaluation continues after purchase and during use as consumers are on a continuous, non-stop decision journey, which is shown below.

Comparison of Traditional and Contemporary Purchase Journey

One’s family is the strongest of the reference groups but all groups have a certain influence on an individual’s consuming behaviour. Within the groups there are always opinion leaders to whom the message must be tailored and aimed at.  In the family context there seems to be a unified view that women, in many cases, have become the main decision maker and that marketers are now creating specified campaigns targeted to women only. In the recent years, teenagers are seen to have a growing impact on the purchase decisions of the of the family.

Culture

Culture may well be the most important single factor in understanding consumer behaviour. Culture is the combined memory of any society. Culture is a combination of lots of commonly shared factors like traditions and norms. The members of a culture usually share the values and exercise the same practices. Cultures usually also share the same values of life. The importance of understanding cultures in terms of consumer behaviour has created a new notion of consumer society. Cultures are divided into subcultures like nations, religions, races or geographical areas and when these subcultures grow large enough, they have an impact on marketing planning and initiatives. In this context it is important to discuss social classes as well. Again here, classes seem to share similar values, beliefs and more importantly, behaviour. Social classes tend to share preferences in many areas like clothes or TV-programs.  Actually, the preferential behaviour can be noted in most areas of human life. Even within a culture, differences can be substantial and that one should not overstate the similarities of a culture.

The Buying Process

It is important to note that the decision-making process is complicated and it is influenced by many factors that can be either internal or external. The process starts from the identification of a problem.  This is followed by the information search and evaluation of alternatives. This is followed by the final choice and the assessment of the purchase.

A modern consumer searches information about products before the final decision.   Mood, time pressure and the actual situation at hand are decisive factors. The whole experience of shopping plays a vital part in this play. Elements of entertainment and expertise are communication tools used by retailers in the process.  Consumer satisfaction is afterwards measured by factors like warranty and how the purchased product actually met with the original expectations.  A clearly identified disposal plan or re-cycling plan also has an impact on the modern consumer. The process can be quite complex.  A consumer may already be evaluating choices while the actual search is still going on.  Without knowing how this process works it is very hard for marketers to target or create their message. There are some alternative views too. Buying is a choice between mental accounts where the time of earned income is the decisive factor. Spending the present income is most likely.

Economics of Information theory suggests that expected benefit is a strong determinant of the amount of search undertaken by the consumer.  Reducing the cost of search reduces the cost of the product in the mental accounts referred to above.

Authors:
Dr Jouko Huju DBA, GMBA Finland
Dr Thomas Dammrich DBA, GMBA USA

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