Some of the most important factors influencing consumer behaviour are as follows: A. Marketing Mix Factors B. Personal Factors C. Psychological Factors D. Social Factors E. Cultural Factors.
The study of consumer behaviour indicates how individuals, groups and organizations select, buy, use and dispose goods, services, ideas, or experiences to satisfy their needs and desires. Consumer behaviour is affected by several factors. Marketers need to have a good knowledge of the factors affecting the consumer behaviour.
In general, the factors that affect consumer behaviour are discussed in the following sections:
Each component of the market mix—product, pricing, promotion and place of distribution—has a direct or indirect impact on the buying process of the consumers.
The special characteristics of the product, the physical appearance and the packaging can influence the buying decision of a consumer.
The price charged on the product or services consumed by the consumer affect the buying behaviour of the consumers. Marketers must consider the price sensitivity of the target customers while fixing prices.
The variables of promotion mix such as advertising, publicity, public relations, personal selling and sales promotion affect the buying behaviour of the consumers. Marketers select the promotion mix after considering the nature of the target audience.
The channels of distribution and the place of distribution affect the buying behaviour of the consumers. The marketers makes an attempt to select the right channel and distribute the products at the right place.
The personal factors such as age, occupation, lifestyle, social and economic status and the gender of a consumer may affect the buying decisions of the consumers individually or collectively.
The age factor greatly influences the buying behaviour. For example, teenagers prefer trendy clothes, whereas office executives prefer sober and formal clothing.
The consumer behaviour varies across gender. For example, girls prefer certain feminine colours such as pink, purple and peach, whereas boys go for blue, black and brown.
Highly educated persons may spend on books, personal care products, and so on. But a person with low or no education may spend less on books and more on personal grooming products.
Normally, the higher the income level, the higher is the level of spending and vice versa. But this may not be the case in developing countries, especially in the rural areas.
Persons enjoying higher status in the society spend a good amount of money on luxury items such as luxury cars, luxury watches, premium brands of clothing, jewellery and perfumes.
A person’s buying behaviour is influenced by the psychological factors such as the following:
It refers to changes in individual behaviour that are caused by information and experience. For example, when a customer buys a new brand of apparels, and is satisfied by its use, then they are more likely to buy the same brand the next time. Through learning, people acquire beliefs and attitudes, which in turn influence the buying behaviour.
It is human tendency to respond in a given manner to a particular situation or object or idea. Consumers may develop a positive, or a negative, or a neutral attitude towards certain products or brands, which in turn affects their buying behaviour.
A motive is the inner drive that motivates a person to act or behave in a certain manner. A marketer must identify the buying motives of the target customers and influence them to act positively towards the marketed products.
Some of the buying motives include the following factors:
a. Pride and possession
b. Love and affection
c. Comfort and convenience
d. Sex and romance
A belief is a descriptive thought that a person holds about certain things. It may be based on knowledge, opinion, faith, trust and confidence. People may hold certain beliefs of certain brands/products. Beliefs develop brand images, which in turn can affect the buying behaviour.
The social factors such as reference groups family, and social status affects the buying behaviour. Social factors in turn reflect a constant and dynamic influx through which individuals learn different meanings of consumption.
A reference group is a small group of people such as colleagues at workplace, club members, friends circle, neighbours, family members, and so on.
The reference groups influence the members in following manner:
a. They influence members’ values and attitudes.
b. They expose members to new behaviours and lifestyles.
c. They create pressure to choose certain products or brands.
The family is the main reference group that may influence the consumer behaviour. Nowadays, children are well informed about goods and services through media or friends circle, and other sources. Therefore, they influence considerably in the decisions of buying both fast moving consumer goods and durable items.
A person performs certain roles in a particular group such as family, club, organization, and so on. For example, a person may perform the role of a vice president in a firm and another person may perform the role of a marketing manager.
The vice president may enjoy higher status in the organization as compared to the marketing manager. People may purchase the products that conform to their roles and status, especially in the case of branded clothes, luxury watches, luxury cars, and so on.
There is a subtle influence of cultural factors on a consumer’s decision process. Consumers live in a complex social and cultural environment. The types of products and services they buy can be influenced by the overall cultural context in which they grow up to become individuals. Cultural factors includes race and religion, tradition, caste and moral values. Culture also includes subcultures, sub-castes, religious sects and languages.
It influences consumer behaviour to a great extent. Cultural values and elements are passed from one generation to another through family, educational institutions, religious bodies and social environment. The cultural diversity influences food habits, clothing, customs and traditions. For example, consuming alcohol and meat in certain religious communities is not restricted, but in certain communities, consumption of alcohol and meat is prohibited.
Each culture consists of smaller subcultures that provide specific identity to its members. Subcultures include sub-castes, religious sects (Roman Catholics, Syrian Catholics, Protestant Christians, etc.), geographic regions (South Indians, North Indians) and language (Marathi, Malayali, Gujarati).
The behaviour of people belonging to various subcultures is different. Therefore, marketers may adopt multicultural marketing approaches, that is, designing and marketing goods and services that cater to the tastes and preferences of the consumers belonging to different subcultures.