Consumer behavior

Consumer Behavior or Consumer Buying Behavior are all the aspects that affect consumers’ search, selection, and purchase of products. We can use the term for the purchases of services too. Consumer behavior also includes the post-purchase stage. Consumer behavior is an area of research within the business field of ‘marketing.’

A consumer is a person, organization, or economic entity that buys a good or service and does not sell it on. I other words, they ‘consume’ it.

This consumption process is central to the economy, as it drives demand and influences production cycles across industries

To understand consumer behavior, companies need to know why customers bought something and what pushed them to buy. They also need to know what trends are developing in society.

An example of a new trend developing in society is children’s influence on their parents’ purchases. Kids today are major factors in the purchase of expensive products. In fact, many parents today will not purchase a car if their children do not like it. This was not the case forty years ago.

Consumer behavior – a process

When attempting to buy something, our consumer behavior consists of a process.

First, we need to recognize a problem. In this stage, we aim to satisfy a need or want. For example, let’s suppose we need to iron our clothes.

Second, we carry out research. During this step, we actively look for ways to satisfy our need. For example, we can iron clothes traditionally, use a vapor iron, or take them to the dry cleaners.

Third, we evaluate alternatives. Based on the information we have gathered, we decide which choice best meets our need or want.

For example, we may decide that taking the clothes to the dry cleaners helps them last longer. However, buying an iron might be a better choice if we want to save money over the long-term.

In a 2006 book, Solomon et al. wrote: “Consumer behavior is the study of the process involved when individuals or groups select, purchase, use or dispose of products, services, ideas or experiences to satisfy needs and desires.”

Fourth; this is the purchasing stage. This is when we decide to buy the best option to meet that need or want.

Lastly, there is the post-purchase evaluation stage. In this stage, we evaluate our purchase. In other words, we determine whether the purchase was worth it. Did it satisfy our need? Did the product or service bring satisfaction after we used it?

For example, we decided to get the iron, because we can iron whatever we like whenever we like. We do not have to wait days. Therefore, the purchase brought satisfaction.

Consumer behavior – companies need to know

Likewise, a business has to have in mind that there four types of consumer behavior.

  • Routine shopping

The shopper buys without having to do much research, there is low involvement, and usually at low cost. For example, the thought behind what to buy in our weekly supermarket shopping is relatively simple.

  • Limited decision making

The buyer occasionally purchases the product after somebody recommended it. They do a little research, i.e., it is not as time-consuming as buying an expensive product.

For example, when a woman wants to dye her hair, she may ask friends for a reliable option. Put simply; she only needs to check a few options.

  • Extensive decision making

People spend much longer deciding when they are considering an expensive product. Consumers spend time carrying out research and comparing multiple products. They check product ratings and also ask friends or sales professionals.

The process takes longer to complete. For example, when buying a TV, people spend a long time going to different shops and comparing products.

Deciding what house to buy may take weeks or even months.

  • Impulse buying

The customer had not planned to buy. When I am waiting at the checkout in a supermarket, I might suddenly buy some chewing gum. It is an impulse buy because I had not planned to purchase gum.

Supermarkets know that consumers are impulsive, especially when it comes to chocolates, candy, and gum. Consequently, they place those products near the checkout.

“Consumer behavior” – a compound noun

There are many compound nouns (terms consisting of 2 or more words) containing the word “consumer” that describe consumer attitude, behavior, or feelings. Let’s take a look at some of them, what they mean, and how we can use them in a sentence:

  • Consumer Confidence

A measure of the overall confidence or pessimistic outlook that consumers feel about the general state of the economy and their personal financial situation.
Example: “When consumer confidence is high, people are more likely to make large purchases.”

  • Consumer Sentiment

The feeling or attitude of consumers towards the economic prospects of their country, which can influence their spending and saving behaviors.
Example: “A sharp decline in consumer sentiment can lead to reduced spending and economic slowdown.”

  • Consumer Loyalty

The likelihood of a consumer to continue purchasing products or services from a specific brand or company.
Example: “Brands often introduce loyalty programs to increase consumer loyalty and repeat business.”

  • Consumer Anxiety

The feeling of worry or unease that consumers may have about spending money, often due to economic conditions or personal financial situations.
Example: “Retailers are concerned that rising consumer anxiety will lead to a decrease in holiday shopping.”

  • Consumer Insights

The understanding of consumer behaviors, needs, and preferences, gathered through market research or data analysis.
Example: “Using consumer insights, the company developed a product that met an unaddressed need in the market.”

  • Consumer Activism

The practice by which consumers use their purchasing power to influence social, environmental, or political change.
Example: “Consumer activism has led to the increase in demand for sustainably sourced products.”

  • Consumer Discontent

A state of dissatisfaction among consumers with the products, services, or policies of companies or industries.
Example: “High prices and poor service have led to widespread consumer discontent in the telecommunications sector.”

Video – What is consumer behavior

This video presentation, from our sister channel on YouTube – Marketing Business Network, explains what ‘Consumer Behavior’ is using simple and easy-to-understand language and examples.

What is Consumer Behavior?