Consumer Behavior

Consumer Behavior is a branch that deals with the various stages a consumer goes through before purchasing products or services for his end use. In simple words, consumer deals with the buying behavior of individuals. Thus, consumer behavior are actions that a person takes in purchasing and using a product or service and the mental and social process that proceeds and follow these actions. It is the study of individuals, groups, or organizations and the processes they use to select, secure, and dispose of products, services, experiences, or ideas to satisfy needs. It also studies the impacts that these buying processes have on the consumer and society.

Factors which affect the Consumer Buying Behavior

The factors which affect the consumer buying behavior are broadly classified into two parts: Economic Factors and Psychological Factors. The details in this regard are as follows:

Economic Factors

These factors affect financial condition of a consumer. Some of the important economic factors affecting the behavior of a consumer are as follows:

  • Personal income: The personal income of the consumer is considered to be the most powerful economic factor that influences the consumer behavior. Personal income gives purchasing power to consumers.  Higher the income, higher will be the demands of the consumer.
  • Family income: Family income also affects the purchasing power of the customer. The low-income families have lesser demands and happy and prosperous family income have more demands.
  • Income expectation of consumer (or future income): If a consumer expects an increase in his sources of income in future, his demands may be more. On the other hand, if the income expectations of a consumer are weak then his demands will be limited, he will spend less and save more.
  • Discretionary income (or left income): After meeting the basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter, whatever part of the income is left with the consumer is known as Discretionary income.
  • Consumer credit: The consumer credit also influences the buying behavior of the consumer. If a consumer gets goods or services on credit easily and conveniently, then his demands will also increase that increases his standard of living in the society.
Psychological factors
  • Basic Need: Every consumer has some basic needs which he wants to fulfill first of all. These needs may differ from person to person and from time to time. Prof. H. Maslow has described basic needs of a consumer as follows: Physical, Safety, Love, Prestige, Self ego. Prof. Maslow stated that a consumer wants to fulfill his needs in this order.
  • Learning Theory: Learning theory is a very important theory to study the behavior of a consumer. With the help of this theory, the marketers may understand the motives for the satisfaction of which a consumer purchases a product.
  • Image: Image is the thinking of consumers about a particular product. This image affects their buying behavior to a great extent. Image may be of many types such as self image, product image, Brand image, etc.
  • Clinical Philosophy: Clinical psychology includes following two factors:
    • Rationalization: Rationalization means to study the reasons for which the consumers buy a product. Every consumer is a rational person and makes rational purchasing. So, a marketer must study these reasons.
    • Unconsciousness: Unconsciousness is the stage of a consumer when he is not in a position to explain the reasons for which he buys a product. A marketer has to be much more vigil and careful about the study of behavior of such consumers.

Importance of the study of Consumer behavior

The following points explain the need and importance of consumer behavior:

Production Policies

The study of consumer behavior affects production policies of the enterprise. It discovers the habits, tastes and preferences of consumers and such a discovery enables an enterprise to plan and develop its products according to these specifications. It is necessary for an enterprise to be in continuous touch with the changes in consumer behavior so that necessary changes in products may be made.

Price Policies

The marketing manager must study the behavior of his consumers very well before fixing the price of his goods or services. For example, some people purchase a product only because it increases their social prestige. Thus, the price of such commodities may be fixed higher. On the other hand, some buyers purchase goods because of the cheapness and utility of these products. The price of such products should not be increased.

Distribution Policies

The consumer behavior affects the distribution policies also of an enterprise. It is necessary for the manufacturers to assure regular and continuous supply of product in the market. Therefore, all the efforts should be made to distribute the products through .channels of distribution most suited to the consumers so that availability of these products at right time and right place may be assured.

Sales Promotion Policies

The study of consumer behavior helps the enterprise in knowing the buying motives of consumers. The decisions of the form, color, packing and labelling etc., of the products are directly affected by the motives for which the consumer buys the products.

Thus, the study of consumer behavior & motivation plays a crucial role in the determination of marketing policies of the business enterprise. Hence, all the possible efforts must be made to understand the habits, tastes, likings, nature and attitudes of consumers.

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