Factors of Consumer Behaviour

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Everything you need to know about the factors of consumer behaviour. Consumer behaviour is the reaction of individuals in obtaining and using goods and services of a particular type.

In the words of Walter and Paul, it is the process whereby individuals decide whether, what, when, where, how and from whom to purchase goods and services.

Consumer behaviour is the study of how people buy, what they buy, when they buy and why they buy. It is a subcategory of marketing that blends elements from psychology, sociology, socio-psychology, anthropology and economics.

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It attempts to understand the buyer decision making process, both individually and in groups.

Some of the factors of consumer behaviour are:-

A. Cultural Factors – 1. Culture 2. Subculture 3. Social Class

B. Social Factors – 1. Reference Groups 2. Family 3. Role and Status

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C. Personal Factors – 1. Life Cycle 2. Occupation 3. Economic Circumstances 4. Lifestyle 5. Personality and Self-Concept

D. Psychological Factors – 1. Motivation 2. Perception 3. Learning 4. Belief 5. Attitude.


Factors of Consumer Behaviour: Cultural Factors, Social Factors, Personal Factors and Psychological Factors

Factors of Consumer Behaviour – 4 Major Factors influencing Consumer Behaviour

Factor # 1. Cultural Factors:

Cultural factors like the buyer’s culture, subculture, social class to which he belongs influences consumer’s buying behaviour.

Culture refers to a set of beliefs, attitudes, habits, values, customs, in a society. Culture is an important determinant of consumer’s wants and behaviour. For example patterns of consumer behaviour would differ between different cultures viz., India, USA, Saudi Arabia, European countries etc.

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a. Culture – The set of basic values, perceptions, wants and behaviours learned by a member of society from family and other important institutions.

b. Subculture – A group of people with shared value system based on common life experiences and situations.

c. Social class – Relatively permanent and ordered divisions in a society whose members share similar values, interests and behaviours.

i. Culture:

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Culture is set of values, perception, belief that the individual learns from the group to which he belongs, where he is born and brought up. Like red and yellow colour is considered very auspicious colour in Indian culture.

ii. Sub-Culture:

This is a segment within a large culture. This includes groups of people belonging to particular nationalities, religions, racial groups, geographic regions. They share similar values and there taste and preferences tend to be similar. Cultural factors influences the taste for food, cloth, items of entertainment and so on.

Marketers recognise the impact of culture on consumers and build their product according to the taste and preferences of people belonging to different cultural background. Like noodles are offered in different flavours to suit the taste of people of different regions – Mumbai, Amritsar, Chennai, Bengal.

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iii. Social Class:

Social class represents a group of people who share similar values, interest and behaviour. Social class is measured as combination of occupation, income, wealth, education and other variables. People belonging to a particular social class show distinct product and brand preference for products like clothing, cars, home furnishing, leisure activity, club membership and so on.

Factor # 2. Social Factors:

Social factors include the membership group i.e., the group to which the individual belongs; the opinion leaders or reference groups like sports personality, film personality and the family members who exert influence on the behaviour of the consumer.

i. Reference Groups:

Reference groups may be friends, relatives, classmates who influence the buying behavior of the individual. Often sports personality, film personalities endorse products and brands. Consumers are easily influenced to buy the product endorsed by their favourite sports personality or film personality.

ii. Roles and Status:

Every individual assumes many roles in his/her lifetime, the role of daughter, wife, son, or father, role in office, and role as a club member and so on. Each role carries a status and this influences the buying behaviour. The role that the individual plays in family, in society, at their work place and the status of the individual influences the consumer buying behaviour. Like a top official in an organization prefers a branded suit, that reflects his role and status.

iii. Family Member:

The family members also have a lot of influence on the buying behaviour of the consumer. For instance the wife in the family takes buying decision regarding food items, household products. Whereas decision of buying a car is taken by husband, wife and children as well.

Factor # 3. Personal Factors:

Personal factors like buyer’s age, lifecycle stage, occupation, economic situation, lifestyle and personality and self-concept influences consumer’s behaviour.

i. Age:

Taste, preferences of consumer for food, clothing, and recreation activities are often age related. Like youth prefer fried spicy food, aged prefers non-spicy healthy food.

ii. Family Life Cycle Stage:

Family life cycle like young singles, married couple, married couples with children, aged couples, determines the consumer behaviour and buying pattern.

iii. Occupations:

Occupation like accountants, managers, engineers, lawyers, and doctors have an impact on their choice for products like specialised software needed for their job. A manager needs business suits and so on.

iv. Economic Situation:

Economic situation defined by consumer’s income, purchasing power, wealth, and savings determines the consumer’s purchasing power. Hence it influences their buying behaviour.

v. Lifestyle:

Lifestyle is a person’s pattern of living. People coming from same cultural background, social class and occupation may have different lifestyles. Lifestyle is a way to segment people into groups based on three things – opinions (about themselves, social issues, business, and product), attitudes (towards food, fashion, family, recreation) and activities (work, hobbies, sports, social events). Lifestyle means the ways groups of consumers spend time and money.

vi. Personality:

Personality of the consumer refers to unique psychological characteristics like self-confidence, sociability, dominance, defensiveness, adaptability, aggressiveness that influences the consumer’s behaviour. It is believed that consumers are likely to choose the brand that suits their own personality. Like the brand “Thums up” represents adventure and thrill, Axe represents masculinity.

Factor # 4. Psychological Factors:

Psychological factors like Need and motivation, perception, learning, belief and attitude of the consumers influence their behaviour and buying decision.

i. Need and Motivation:

Buying decision process begins with need recognition. A buyer buys a product when a need arises. The needs may be physiological needs (need for food, clothing, shelter), social need, safety need, esteem need, need for self-actualization, that is sufficiently pressing and motivates the person to seek satisfaction through purchase of the product.

For example – An individual purchases noodles because he or she in hungry. An individual who is thirsty would buy water. Similarly Individuals prefer to spend on premium brands so that others look up to them. Certain products become their status symbol and an individual who wears a Tag Heuer watch would never purchase a local watch as this would be against his image.

ii. Perception:

Perception is what an individual thinks about a particular product or service. Individuals with the same needs might not purchase similar products due to difference in perception. For example a Nikon camera might be the best camera for someone while for others it could be just one of the best brands available.

iii. Learning:

Learning means gathering knowledge which comes only through listening, reading, observing and experiencing. When an individual comes to know about a product and service through experience and is satisfied with a particular product/service will show a strong inclination towards buying the same product again.

iv. Beliefs and Attitude:

Belief and attitude play an essential role in influencing the buying decision of consumers. Belief is developed through learning, faith, experiences. Consumers purchase products/services based on their opinions which they form towards a particular product or service. A product might be really good but if the consumer feels that it is useless and will not meet his needs, would never buy it.

The marketer while framing marketing policies must take into consideration all the factors affecting consumer behaviour.


Factors of Consumer Behaviour – 4 Important Factors Affecting Consumer Behaviour

1. Cultural Factors:

Cultural factors exert deep influence on consumer. The marketer should understand the role played by the buyer’s culture, subculture and social class. Culture is a set of learned beliefs, values, attitudes, habits and forms of behaviour that are shared by a society and transmitted from generation to generation.

The important features of culture are – (a) it is learnt and not innate (b) it is shared with others, (c) it is transmitted from generation to generation and (d) it is adaptive, i.e., it changes with spread of education and with technological change. Cultural influence shapes both the pattern of consumption and the decision-making process.

Smoking and drinking are common habits in the West. But drinking is condemned by many sects in the Indian culture. Western people eat with knives and forks, Chinese eat with chopsticks and many Indians eat with fingers.

Marketers should try to spot cultural shifts in order to imagine new products that might be wanted. For example, the cultural shift towards greater concern about health has created a huge industry for exercise equipment and clothing, lower-calorie and more natural foods. The increased desire for leisure has resulted in more demand for convenience products and services such as microwave ovens and fast food.

Each culture contains smaller subcultures or groups of people with shared value systems based on common life experience and situations. Subcultures include nationalities, religions and racial groups. Many subcultures make up important market segments and marketers offer design products and marketing programmes tailored to their needs.

Cultural factors have a deep influence on the buyer behaviour. Culture is the basic determinant of a person’s wants. It refers to a set of learned beliefs, values, attitudes, morals, customs, habits and forms of behaviour that are shared by a society. These are transmitted from generation to generation. Culture is always alive, moving and ever- changing. Culture shapes the pattern of consumption and pattern of decision making.

i. Subculture:

Each culture consists of smaller subcultures that provide more specific identification and socialization for its members.

ii. Social Classes:

These are divisions in the society which are hierarchically ordered and whose members share similar values, interests and behaviour.

Social Class:

There is a relationship between social class and consumption patterns. Consumers’ buying behaviour is determined by the social class to which they belong. According to Kotler social classes are relatively homogeneous and enduring divisions in a society that are hierarchically ordered and whose members share similar values, interests and behaviours. While culture changes very slowly, social stratification undergoes modification with comparative rapidity. Sections of people who had lower status may through income additions move into the higher class.

Sociologists divide most societies into three broad classes — upper, middle and lower. Social classes may act as one criterion for market segmentation. Upper-class consumers want products and brands that are clear symbols of their social status.

Middle-class consumers are rational purchasers, shop carefully and read advertisements and compare prices before they buy. Lower-class consumers usually buy on impulse and they do not care to read advertisements. Hence media like TV or radio are of no importance in influencing their buying behaviour.

2. Social Factors:

Consumer’s behaviour is also influenced by social factors such as the family, and the social role and status.

i. Family:

A family consists of two or more persons living in the same household who are related to each other by blood, marriage or adoption; all persons living in one household who are related to each other — are regarded as one family. Life begins when one is born in a family. The family can exert considerable influence in shaping the pattern of consumption.

The members of the family play an important role in buying behaviour. It is necessary to know for the marketer how the family decides what, where and when to buy. The marketer has to develop his advertisement campaign on the basis of his knowledge. Many studies in USA have shown that the decision to buy in a house is taken jointly by the husband and wife; automobile by the husband and grocery articles by the wife. Many families show preference for particular brands of products.

The needs of a family and its buying behaviour do not remain constant. They change with the growth of its size and subsequently decline. In this context, the concept of a family’s life cycle is very useful to the marketer. In the development of a family there are several stages — bachelor, marriage, birth of children, maturation of children, married children leaving home, older couple with no children, etc.

The needs of a family in the different stages of the life cycle will be different. Young bachelors have more needs for cigarettes, showy clothing, etc.; newly married couples are interested in renting houses, domestic appliances; when children are born, the need for baby food arises, more health care, toys, etc. With older couples the need shifts to simple clothing, drugs, false teeth, religious books, etc.

ii. Reference Groups:

The reference group is a sociological concept and it is so called because it serves as a reference point in evaluating individual behaviour. Buyer gets advice in his thought and actions from small groups.

There are three kinds of references groups –

(a) Primary groups which are small and intimate so that their members regularly mix with each other, such as family friends, relatives, etc.

(b) Secondary groups, which are less intimate and whose members directly communicate with each other, such as trade unions, professional associations and

(c) Aspirational groups of which an individual is not a member but to which he has the aspiration to belong, namely form heroes, political leaders.

A person is influenced by a reference group in three ways- (i) These groups expose the persons to possible new behaviours and lifestyle (ii) They also influence the person’s attitudes and self-concept, because the person normally desires to “fit in” (iii) They create pressures for conformity that may affect the person’s actual product and brand choices.

Francis Bourne found that reference group influence is – (a) strong for both product and brand choice in the of cases of cars and cigarettes; (b) strong in product choice but weak in brand choice for air conditioners, instant coffee and TV; (c) strong in brand choice but weak in product choice for clothing, furniture and toilet soap and (d) weak in soap, canned peaches and radios.

3. Personal Factors:

A buyer’s decisions are also influenced by personal characteristics such as the buyer’s age and life-cycle stage, occupation, economic situation, lifestyle and personality.

i. Age and Life-Cycle Stage:

People purchase different types of goods and services in different periods of their lives. Tastes in food, clothes, furniture and recreation are often age-related. Buying is also shaped by the stage of the family life-cycle. Marketers often define their target markets in terms of life-cycle stage and develop appropriate products and marketing plans for each stage.

A person’s occupation affects the goods and services bought. Blue-collar workers tend to buy more bush shirts and ordinary trousers whereas white-collar workers buy more suits, ties and shoes. A company can specialize in making products needed by a given occupational group. Thus computer software companies will make different products for managers, accountants, engineers and doctors.

A person’s economic situation will affect product choice. Marketers of income-sensitive goods watch trends in personal income, savings and interest rates carefully. If there is recession, marketers might redesign and re-price their products.

ii. Life Style:

People coming from the same social class may have quite different life style. Psychographics or life style is a person’s pattern of living as expressed in his activities, interests and opinions (AIO). Psychographics is a new technique for the analysis of consumer behaviour. The life style concept can help the marketer understand changing consumer values and how they affect buying behaviour.

iii. Personality and Self Concept:

Each person’s unique personality influences his buying behaviour. Personality refers to the unique responses to one’s own environment. Personality is described in terms of traits to one’s own environment. Personality is described in terms of traits such as self-confidence, dominance, sociability, adaptability and aggressiveness.

Personality can be useful in analysing consumer behaviour for certain products or brand choices. For example, coffee makers have discovered that heavy coffee drinkers tend to be more sociable.

Personality theory has considerable promise for marketing applications. These are many approaches to personality of which three are important for the study of consumer behaviour. These are psycho-analytical approach, trait approach and psychographic approach.

4. Psychological Factors:

A person’s buying behaviour is influenced by four major psychological factors — motivation, perception, learning and beliefs and attitudes.

i. Motivation:

A person has many needs —some are biological and others are psychological. A motive is what moves a person into activity. There are two important theories of motivation. One developed by Freud and the other by Maslow. According to Freud people are largely unconscious about the real psychological forces shaping behaviour. In other words, a person does not fully understand his motivation.

Maslow seeks to explain why people are driven by particular needs at particular times. A person tries to satisfy the most important needs first. When that important need is satisfied it will stop being a motivation and the person will then try to satisfy the next higher need. A buying motive is the reason why a person buys a particular product at a particular time.

ii. Perception:

When a person is motivated, he is ready to act. But how he will act will depend on how he perceives the situation. Two men may be motivated to the same extent in the same situation but may act quite differently because they perceive the situation differently. People perceive the same situation differently because each man interprets the sensory information in an individual way. Perception is the process by which people select, organize and interpret information to form a meaningful picture of the world.

People from different perceptions of the same stimulus because of three perceptual processes —selective attention, selective distortion and selective retention.

People are exposed to numerous things happening in the world every day. It is not possible for a person to pay attention to all of them. He is bound to be selective in the process of perception.

Selective distortion describes the tendency of men to adapt information to personal meaning. We see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear. If we do not like what we perceive, we distort it to suit ourselves. Selective distortion means that marketers must try to understand the mind set of consumers and how these will affect interpretations of advertising and sales information.

People also forget much that they learn. They tend to retain information that supports their attitudes and beliefs.

iii. Learning:

When people act, they learn. Learning describes changes in an individual’s behaviour arising from experience. Most human behaviour is learnt. Learning occurs through the interplay of drives, stimuli, cues, responses, and reinforcement. A drive is a strong internal stimulus that calls for action.

A drive becomes a motive when it is directed towards a particular stimulus object. Cues are minor stimuli that determine when, where the person responds. If the experience is rewarding, response will be reinforced (strengthened).

The practical significance of learning theory for marketers is that they can build up demand for a product by associating it with strong drives, using motivating cues and providing positive reinforcement. A new company can enter the market by appealing to the same drives that competitors appeal, and by providing similar cues because buyers are more likely to transfer loyalty to similar brands than to dissimilar ones.

iv. Beliefs:

Through doing and learning, people acquire their beliefs and attitudes. These, in turn, influence their buying behaviour. A belief is a descriptive thought that a person has about something. Beliefs are based on real knowledge, opinion or faith.

A belief is an individual’s personal concept of truth. However, truth is not a primary factor in determining belief. Belief (a) is a personal matter, a fabric of personal experience, (b) is a matter of feeling and emotion rather than of reason, (c) is dependent upon desire — we believe what we want to believe (d) has also a social component to be accounted by the need for conformity with one’s fellows and especially with those in authority. So, what is believed may not be true? Again, what is true may not be believed. Gaining consumer’s belief is a very difficult job.

v. Attitudes:

An attitude describes a person’s relatively consistent evaluations, feelings, and tendencies about an object or idea. People have attitudes regarding religion, politics, clothes, music, food, etc. Attitudes affect both perception and behaviour.

Attitudes play an important part in purchase decisions. Purchase decisions are based almost solely upon attitudes existing at the time of purchase. Thus one may hold such attitudes as ‘Buy the best’, or ‘the Japanese make the best products in the world.’

Attitudes are difficult to change. A person’s attitudes fit into a pattern and to change one attitude may require difficult adjustments in many others. A company should usually try to fit its products into existing attitudes rather than try to change attitudes completely.


Factors of Consumer Behaviour – Cultural Factors, Social Factors, Personal Factors and Psychological Factors

Factor # 1. Cultural Factors:

It consists of culture and values, subculture, and social class, which are as follows-

i. Culture:

It is the essential character of society that distinguishes it from other cultural groups. Culture is an extremely critical and all pervasive influence in our life. The study of culture encompasses all aspects of a society such as its religion, knowledge, language, laws, customs, traditions, music, art, technology, work patterns, products, etc. All these factors make-up the unique, distinctive ‘personality’ of each society.

For our purpose of studying consumer behaviour, culture can be defined as the sum total of learned beliefs, values and customs which serve to guide and direct the consumer behaviour of all members of that society. It may also be defined as “The set of values, norms, attitudes, and other meaningful symbols that shape human behaviour and the artifacts, or products, of that behaviour as they are transmitted from one generation to the next”.

ii. Subculture:

A subculture is an identifiable distinct, cultural group, which, while following the dominant cultural values of the overall society also has its own beliefs, values and customs that set them apart from other members of the same society.

These subcultures offer ready-made market segments to the marketer who can position his product to meet the specific needs, motivation, perception and attitudes of each subculture. However, the marketer may need to modify, both his product and advertising appeal to suit their specialized needs.

Every member of a society is a member of several subgroups, (such as an elderly, Keralite, Christian, woman teacher) and the consumer’s purchase decision is a result of the influence of these various subgroups. The marketer must understand how the specific subcultural groups interact with each other and exert their influence on the member’s consumption behaviour.

iii. Social Class:

Social class is a concept based on distribution of status and the categories are usually ranked in a hierarchical order ranging from low status to high status. In every society there is inequality in social status amongst different people and the people are categorized into different social classes.

Social class is an ideal basis for segmenting the market, as different social classes exhibit distinct product and brand preferences. Social classes can be defined as relatively permanent and homogeneous divisions in a society in which individuals or families sharing similar values, life­styles, interests and behaviour can be categorized.

People belonging to a particular class tend to restrict their interaction to people belonging to the same class; unless it is for a very specialized purpose. Within a social class there are shared values, attitudes and behavioural patterns of consumption of certain products and services. But if we compare different social classes, we would find differences in values, attitudes and behaviour between each class, as also a pattern of consumption behaviour unique to each class.

Social class is a complex variable which is determined by persons’ income, occupation, education; personal performance and possession of different types of products. Within the same social class, there is sharing of information on different products and brands, while between the different social classes there is little communication.

Different social classes have different media exposure and habits. Let us take the instance of English women’s magazines- If we study the profile of Femina, and Woman’s Era, we would immediately realize the different class of readers each magazine is catering to. Social classes, thus, are market segments which are easily identified and also easy to reach.

Social- classes can be categorized on the basis of a number of different bases such as blue- collar workers and white-collar workers, educated and uneducated and so on.

Factor # 2. Social Factors:

i. Reference Groups:

These groups are the social, economic, or professional groups that have a direct or indirect influence on the person’s attitudes or behaviours. Consumers accept information provided by their peer groups on the quality, performance, style, etc. These groups influence the person’s attitudes, expose them to new behaviours and lifestyles and create pressures on the individual.

A family, a circle of friends, a local club, an athletic team, and college living groups are examples of small reference groups. When a member is satisfied with a product, he becomes the salesman of the product. He influences the other members of the group.

ii. Family:

This constitutes the most influential group on one’s attitudes. Personal values, attitudes and buying habits have been shaped by family influences. The members of the family play different roles such as – influencer, decider, purchaser and user in the buying process. A person acquires an orientation towards religion, politics and economics and a sense of personal ambition.

Though they do not interact with parents while purchasing, their family values and beliefs subconsciously influence the buying behaviour. A person’s behaviour is also influenced by his/her spouse and children. In Indian families, the wife is the purchasing agent. In case of expensive products, there is joint decision-making.

There are three patterns of decision making within the family and the product categories with which each is associated.

iii. Role and Status:

This factor also influences decision making. Roles are the activities of the person in a group. A woman plays the role of wife, mother and sister in a family. She plays the role of an employee in an organization. She may also play the role of a secretary of an association. Each role carries a status. People will choose products that will communicate their status to the society.

Factor # 3. Personal Factors:

A buyer’s decisions are also influenced by ‘personal characteristics, notably the buyer’s age that is the stage in his life cycle occupation, economic circumstances, lifestyle and personality and self-concept.

i. Life Cycle:

The life cycle of a person begins with child birth, shifts to dependent infancy, adolescence and teen, adults, middle-aged, old and then ends with death. Under each stage people’s buying behaviour is different. Under the first three stages, decisions are not made by the consumer. They are totally dependent on their family. In the next stage, buyers not only make their decision but also influence other’s buying decisions. In the later stage of life cycle, they are back to the early stages.

ii. Occupation:

A person’s behaviour depends upon his occupation. A company’s Managing Director will prefer expensive suits, air travel, separate cottage, etc. A worker would prefer economic dresses, bus travel, etc. The occupation of a person decides his ability to buy. Hence, his need satisfaction depends on his occupation which provides him the means.

iii. Economic Circumstances:

Occupation gives rise to the economic circumstances. A person may have high desire to buy so many things. All his needs do not become wants. This is the result of his purchasing power. People’s economic circumstances refer to their spendable income, savings, assets, borrowing power and attitude towards spending versus saving.

iv. Lifestyle:

Lifestyle may be defined as the pattern or way of living of a person, which are indicated through the person’s activities, interests and opinions. A person may reside in a high income group (HIG) flat. He may have costly furniture. He shall buy his clothing’s only from Raymond’s. He may have his dinner only in Five Star Hotels. His hobby may be playing billiards. From above activities, we can understand the lifestyle of a person. Hence, his choice will be according to his lifestyle.

v. Personality and Self-Concept:

It is defined as the person’s distinguishing psychological characteristics that lead to relatively consistent and enduring responses to his or her environment. Personality is described in terms of such traits as self-confidence, dominance, autonomy, deference, sociability, defensiveness and adaptability. A person, in order to maintain his personality, will decide his purchase accordingly.

Factor # 4. Psychological Factors:

i. Motivation:

It is the driving force which makes the person to act. Motivation is the drive to act, to move, to obtain a goal or an objective. A human being is motivated by his needs. When these needs are backed by purchasing power, it becomes a want. Buyer behaviour, hence, is stimulated by motivation.

ii. Perception:

A motivated person is ready to act. How the motivated person actually acts is influenced by his or her perception of the situation. To perceive is to see, to hear, to touch, to taste, to smell and to sense something and to organize, interpret and find the meaning in the experience.

Our senses perceive the colour, shape, sound, smell, taste, etc., of this stimulus. Our behaviour is governed by these physical perceptions. Perception is to select, organize and interpret sensory stimulation into a meaningful and coherent picture of the world.

iii. Learning:

It describes changes in an individual’s behaviour arising from experience. Learning refers to changes in behaviour brought about by practice or experience. Almost everything that one does or thinks is learning.

iv. Belief:

A belief is a descriptive thought that a person holds about something. These beliefs may be based on knowledge, opinion or faith. They may or may not carry emotional change.

v. Attitude:

An attitude describes a person’s enduring favourable or unfavourable cognitive evaluations, emotional feeling and action tendencies toward some object or ideas. In simple word’s, attitude is an emotionalized predisposition or inclination to respond positively or negatively to an object or class of objects. Attitudes lead people to behave in a fairly consistent way towards similar objects.


Factors of Consumer Behaviour – 4 Most Important Factors Determining Consumer Behaviour

1. Cultural Factors:

Cultural factors exert the greatest impact on buying behaviour of consumers.

A buyer is always influenced by his culture; sub-culture and social class, a brief discussion about these topics have been given as below:

i. Culture:

From the dawn of civilization, human beings have been looking for ways and means to better their lives. Culture is the most fundamental determinant of a person’s wants and behaviour.

Culture refers to the set of values, ideas and attitudes that are accepted by a homogeneous group of people and transmitted to the next, generation. Culture also determines what is acceptable with product advertising. It determines what people wear, eat, reside and travel.

In other words, in the process human beings have come together and have formed common action and reaction patterns, common ways of doing things, forming common values and beliefs too help one decide what to do or what not to do and this is a dynamic process in which something is added up and subtracted over the time as per the requirement of the situation. This process of building a common platform for better living is called ‘culture’ and have a great impact on any of the consumer decision.

ii. Sub-Culture:

Members of a culture share most of the core values, beliefs and behaviours of that culture. However, most individuals also belong to several subcultures. Each culture consists of smaller sub-cultures that provide more specific identification and each socialization for their members. Sub-cultures include nationalities, religions, racial groups and geographic regions.

For example, India as whole is considered as a culture but when it comes to different religions, different regions, castes and languages; it forms so many subculture groups which are diverse in nature.

A Punjabi is having different tastes and preferences for food and dresses against his counterpart who is a Gujarati or a Tamil. Hence, the existence of these sub-cultures provides marketers with the opportunity to develop unique marketing programmes to match the unique needs of each segment.

iii. Social Class:

Social classes are relatively homogeneous and enduring divisions in a society, which are hierarchically ordered and whose members share similar values, interests and behaviour. Social class determines to some extent, the types, quality, and quantity of products that a person buys or uses. Social class is a basis for identifying and reaching particular good prospects for products and services.

a. Upper classes are targeted by companies for items such as financial investments, expensive cars and evening wear.

b. Middle classes represent a target market for home improvement centers and automobile parts stores.

c. Lower classes are targeted for products such as sports and scandal magazines.

2. Social Factors:

Social factors refer to – (i) family, (ii) social class and (iii) Various reference groups.

(i) Family:

Family is most important consumer unit in a society. As such role and relative influence of husband, wife and children is to be examined in purchasing products and services. For example, while purchasing grocery articles, housewife is the deciding authority. And in case of purchases involving huge or heavy amount, both husband and wife together take purchase decisions.

(ii) Social Class:

Three types of social classes are – Upper class, Middle class and Lower class. Kotler divides them into – Upper uppers, Lower uppers, Upper middles, Lower middles, Upper lowers and Lower lowers. These classes differ in their buying behaviour.

(iii) Reference Groups:

Reference groups refer to certain groups which have influence on consumer’s buying behaviour.

(iv) Opinion Leaders:

These are people whom product may be supplied on attractive terms to create public opinion, e.g., offering gifts to a satisfied customer of washing machine so as to advise a prospective buyer.

a. Reference Groups:

Two or more people who interact to accomplish individual or mutual goals.

b. Family Role and Status:

Role and Status in the various groups e.g. family, club, organization etc.

Role – The activities people are expected to perform according to the persons around them.

Status – Each role carries a status reflecting the general esteem given to it by the society.

3. Personal Factors:

A consumer’s purchase decisions are also affected by his personal characteristics such as age, sex, and stage in family lifecycle, education, occupation, income, life­style, his overall personality and overall self-concept. We shall now discuss some of the influences. The first factor influencing a buyer’s decision is his age.

The need for different products and services, changes with age. Babies and children have special needs for products such as milk powder, baby foods and toys. Young adults need clothes, recreational and educational facilities, transportation and a host of other age and fashion related consumption needs.

There are certain physiological differences between men and women which result in their having different consumption needs. Their requirement of clothes and cosmetics is different from that of men. Each gender thus has its own need for specific products and services. Consumption behaviour is also influenced by the specific stage of the family life cycle. This family life cycle may be applicable in India only in the urban upper middle-classes.

i. Education:

It widens a person’s horizons, refines his tastes and makes his outlook more cosmopolitan. An educated person, as compared to less educated, is more likely to consume educations facilities, books, magazines and other knowledge-oriented products and services. For instance, in India, we find that educated families are more inclined towards adopting family planning than families which have no educational background.

ii. Occupation:

It also shapes the consumption needs. People following specialized occupations as photography, music, dance, carpentry, etc., need special tools and equipment. But, apart from this specific need, the status and role of a person within an organization affects his consumption behaviour.

Chief executives would buy three-piece suits of the best fabric, handmade leather briefcase and use services of airlines and five-star hotels. A junior manager or blue-collar worker in the same organization may also buy a three-piece suit but he compromises on quality.

iii. Income:

The income which a person earns is an extremely important influence on his consumption behaviour. He may aspire to buy certain goods and services but his income may become a constraint. Income in this context really refers to the income available for spending (i.e., income after tax, provident fund and other statutory deductions).

The person’s attitude towards spending versus saving and his borrowing power are also important influencing factors. Small size packaging in sachets for products such as tea, shampoo, toothpaste are meant for the lower income customers who cannot afford an one time large outlay of money on such products.

Products which are considered luxuries are more income sensitive than products which fall in the category of necessities. If marketers are marketing a luxury product then they must keep a close watch on income and saving trends to avoid decrease in sales resulting from recession. To avoid sales decline you may need to reposition the product, change the marketing mix or both.

iv. Personality:

Personality is the sum total of an individual’s psychological traits, characteristics, motives, habits, attitudes, beliefs and outlooks. Personality is the very essence of individual differences. In consumer behaviour, personality is defined as those inner psychological characteristics that both determine and reflect how a person responds to his environmental stimuli. Personality is enduring and ensures that a person’s responses are consistent over time.

There has been a great deal of research into the concept of personality with the objective of predicting consumer behaviour, in terms of product and brand choice. The assumption in all personality related research has been that different types of personalities can be classified and each type responds differently to the same stimuli, and personality can be used to identify and predict that response.

In case of products such as cigarettes, beer and cars, personality has been used to segment the market. In contrast, surf detergent powder is promoted with the help of ‘Lalitaji’ — a middle-class traditional, forthright and objective housewife. These are just the right personality variables that would appeal to a potential customer of Surf.

Personality research to predict consumer behaviour has either focused on total personality profile or a specific trait or attempted to find a correlation with product brand choice. But both these approaches assume that individuals with a given personality profile or trait are homogeneous in all other respects such as age, income, education, occupation, etc.

All these factors strongly influence a consumer’s decisions. A much broader, more comprehensive approach for characterizing behavioural patterns is needed and this is provided by the concept of lifestyle.

v. Lifestyle:

Lifestyles are defined as patterns in which people live, as expressed by the manner in which they spend money and time on various activities and interests. Lifestyle is a function of our motivations, learning, attitudes, beliefs and opinion, social class, demographic factors, personality, etc.

It involves measuring consumers’ responses to Activities, Interests and Opinions (AIO), along with collecting information on demographic factors. The different lifestyles are then used for market segmentation, product positioning and for developing promotional campaigns, including new products. Lifestyle is measured by a technique known as psychographics.

To get a good idea of marketing based on lifestyles, you only need to look at the promotional strategies of Garden Vareli, Raymonds and Dinesh Mill Textiles.

4. Psychological Factors:

An individual buying decision is further influenced by psychological factors such as perception, motivation, learning, beliefs, and attitudes.

i. Perception:

The major psychological factor that influences consumer behaviour is perception. Perception can be described as “how we see the world around us”. All the time we are receiving messages through our five sense organs, viz.-, eyes, ears, nose, mouth and skin. The different sights, sounds, smells, tastes and sensations that we feel are known as stimuli.

Each person recognizes, selects, organizes and interprets these stimuli in his own individual manner based on his needs, values and expectations and this is known as perception. Since each individual’s needs, motives and expectations are unique therefore each individual’s perception is unique.

Perception helps to explain the phenomenon of why different individuals respond differently to the same stimulus under the same condition. As a marketing manager, we are providing stimulus to your consumers through the physical shape, colour, size, fragrance, and feel, taste of your product, its package, advertisements and commercials.

Our interest is to understand why and what different types of perceptions are associated with each of the stimuli so that we can highlight that particular stimulus or combination of stimuli which evokes the most favourable perception in the maximum number of consumers. For example, generally consumers tend to perceive the quality of perfumes on the basis of package, brand name, price and manufacturer’s image.

As a person involved in marketing, we would like to ensure that the stimuli which are provided are not ignored by the consumers, but rather they are recognized, interpreted and retained in the consumer memory. In this context, there are three aspects of perception which are of immediate interest to the marketer. These are selective exposure, selective distortion and selective retention.

ii. Selective Exposure:

If a person wants to purchase a specific product, be it camera, refrigerator, television or any other high value product or service, he comes across more than the usual number of advertisements pertaining to that specific product. People are more likely to notice stimuli which relate to their immediate needs.

For the marketer, the implication is that he has to carefully and accurately identify his potential customers since other customers are not at all likely to notice the stimuli. Having identified the potential customers, the marketer has to ensure that the stimuli are interesting enough to attract and hold their attention.

iii. Selective Distortion:

If a person decided to purchase a specific brand ‘X’ of pressure cooker. Since the decision is already made the purchaser would seek only that information which reinforces the correctness of his decision.

If you hear some positive remarks made about brand ‘X’ you would tend to find some. shortcoming or flaw in that brand, so that you do not feel that you have made a wrong decision by buying brand ‘X’. When person attempt to fit information to suit his own ideas or personal meaning, the process is known as selective distortion. Thus, a marketer may find that his message is often not received in the intended manner but it is twisted in different ways by different consumers.

iv. Selective Retention:

People forget much of the stimuli which they receive and only retain that information which reinforces their values and decision. The person is more likely to remember the positive features of brand ‘X’ pressure cooker since they help reassure him that the decision which he made was correct.

v. Motivations:

It is a driving force which leads to an action. We all have needs and we consume different goods and services with the expectation that they will help fulfils these needs. When a need is sufficiently pressing, it directs the person to seek its satisfaction. It is known as motive. All our needs can be classified into two categories — primary and secondary.

Primary needs or motives are the physiological needs which we are born with, such as the need for air, water, food, clothing, shelter and sex. The secondary needs are our acquired needs which we have developed in response to the society and environment in which we live.

The secondary needs are the result of the individuals’ psychological make-up and his relationship with other members of the society. The secondary needs may include the need for power, prestige, esteem, affection, learning, status, etc. Clothing is a primary need for all of us; but the need for suit, or benarasi saree or silk patola are expressions of our acquired needs. The man wearing a suit may be seeking to fulfil his status need or his ego need by impressing his friends and family.

All human needs can be classified into five hierarchical categories and this hierarchy is universally applicable. The theory of hierarchy of needs was propounded by Abraham Maslow. According to Maslow’s hierarchy all needs can be ranked in order of importance from the low biological needs to the higher level psychological needs.

Each level of unfulfilled need motivates the individual’s behaviour, and as each successive level of need is fulfilled people keep moving on to the next higher level of need. The different levels of needs have been depicted as being water tight compartments, but in reality there is always overlap amongst the different levels of needs, since no need is ever totally satisfied. There is always scope for further fulfilment.

Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs helps us understand consumer motivations. It’s useful for the marketer who can identify what generic level need his product is capable of fulfilling and accordingly position his product and back it up with relevant marketing inputs.

Products such as food and clothing are bought to fulfils physiological needs; insurance, burglar alarms, security services are purchased because they fulfils safety needs; most personal care products such as soap, toothpaste, shaving cream, perfume are bought primarily because they serve social needs, and luxury products such as jewellery, expensive clothing, fancy house and cars are bought mainly to serve ego and self- actualization needs.

The same product can be sold to entirely distinct customer segments provided the marketer can correctly identify the need which the product is fulfilling. For instance, a bicycle may be bought by different customer segments for entirely different reasons. One segment may buy to use it as a means of commuting.

For another segment, a bicycle serves a recreational/leisure need while for a third segment, it fulfils the need of a health aid. Still another customer segment buys a bicycle for converting into a rickshaw or bicycle cart for selling fruits, vegetables, etc. A bicycle is also purchased for use in competitive sport.

vi. Learning:

Learning refers to the skill and knowledge gained from past experience which we apply to evaluate future decisions and situations. A marketer can build-up demand for his brand by associating it with strong motives, using the appropriate stimuli and cues and providing positive reinforcement, thus making the consumer ‘learn’ that the brand is good and worth patronizing.

Much of an adult’s human behaviour is learned behaviour. This is a very significant fact for marketers, because it implies that consumers can be made to learn the desired behaviour through interplay of motives, stimuli, cues, responses and reinforcements. A housewife has the need for cutting down the time she spends for cooking in the kitchen.

When this need is strong enough to propel her to take action it becomes a motive. The motive is directed towards the stimulus object — a pressure cooker. The stimuli are the various advertisements about the product which she sees and hears. Cues are minor stimuli that determine when, where and how the housewife responds.

Positive feedback about pressure cooker from a friend, seeing it on display in a show-window, a special introductory price offer is all examples of cues which influence a housewife’s response to the motive for buying a pressure cooker. Suppose the housewife buys the pressure cooker and is satisfied with its performance, then the chances are that she would like to use it as often as possible, and in the future may buy another one.

The housewife’s response to pressure cookers has been reinforced. At some later stage, the same housewife wants to buy an electric oven. Since she has had a positive experience with brand ‘A pressure cooker, she may infer that the company manufacturing brand ‘A’ also makes good electric ovens and choose it over other brands. This is known as ‘generalization’ of response.

vii. Beliefs and Attitudes:

A belief is a descriptive thought that a person has about something. A person may believe that a certain cooking oil ‘X’ has the lowest fat content and is best for health. The beliefs constitute the brand image, and if the customer has the wrong beliefs he is likely to generate a negative image about the brand.

The marketer must ensure that consumers have all relevant and correct information about the brand to facilitate formation of a positive brand image. This belief may be based on some real facts or it may merely be a notion or opinion that the person has. The belief that the customer has about a brand is important because it determines his behaviour towards buying and using it.

Attitude is a person’s enduring feeling, evaluation and tendency towards a particular idea or object. Starting from childhood, attitudes develop over the time with each fresh knowledge input, experience and influence. Attitudes get settled into specific patterns and are difficult to change. It is easier to market a product which fits in well with the existing patterns of attitudes rather than change the attitudes to fit a new product concept.


Factors of Consumer Behaviour

1. Cultural Factors:

Culture is a complex amalgam of symbols (attitudes, beliefs, values, language, etc.) and artefacts created by a society and handed down from generation to generation. The way people perform their biological activities such as eating is culturally determined.

Thus, a hungry Indian consumer may like to eat rice and dal whereas a hungry American consumer may like to eat a hamburger, followed by a Coke. Cultures do change over time; for example two-income nuclear families; changing gender roles are the latest cultural trends. There is a diffusion of culture across countries since we live in a global village.

(i) Culture shapes behaviour

(ii) Culture is a social phenomenon

(iii) Culture is adopted

(iv) Culture sets values

(v) Increase in the trend of cross-cultural activities

(vi) Culture is a strong determinant of marketing strategy.

Example – American culture stresses achievement, success, efficiency, progress, material comfort, etc., whereas Indian culture emphasizes peace, harmony, truth, forgiveness, service, etc.

Within a general culture there are smaller sub-cultures distinguished by the specific identification and socialisation of their members, with their distinctive behavioural patterns. For example, within the general Indian Culture there exist specific sub-cultures like Punjabi, Marwari, Bengali, South Indian, etc., which have their own distinctive characteristics.

Social Class is again a stratification a society built on a hierarchical order governed by wealth, position and resultant status. Members of the same class share similar values, interests and behaviour.

Each society gets stratified into number of social classes which represents a hierarchy of prestige. The ancient venue system based on caste is gradually fading, but it is still a force to reckon with in India, especially in the hinterland.

Formation of social classes is a multi-dimensional and dynamic process.

A general three class system exists:

(i) Upper class (15%)

(ii) Middle class (65-70%)

(iii) Lower class (15-20%)

Members of each class share similar values, interests and behaviour.

Social classes tend to have distinct preferences in products and brands in areas like clothing, home furnishing, automobiles, leisure activities, etc.

2. Social Factors:

Most consumers are likely to seek the opinion of others to reduce their search and evaluation efforts or uncertainty, especially as the perceived risk of the decision increases.

Determinations of consumer behaviour are as follows:

i. Reference Groups:

It is a group in society that influences an individual’s purchasing behaviour. As a consumer, your decision to purchase and use certain products and services, is influenced not only by psychological factors, your personality and lifestyle, but also by the people around us with whom we interact and the various social groups to which we belong. The groups with whom we interact directly or indirectly influence our purchase decisions and thus their study is of great importance to marketers.

ii. Opinion Leaders:

Apart from the family, a consumer is influenced by the advice he receives from his friends, neighbours, relatives and colleagues about what products and services he should buy. This process of influencing is known as the opinion leadership process and is described as the process by which one person (the opinion leader) informally influences the actions or attitudes of others (opinion receivers).

The influence is informal and the setting in which the influencing process takes place has nothing to do with the actual buying or selling of the product in question. For instance, during lunch hour, you may casually ask your colleague to recommend a good scooter mechanic. Or you discuss with your relatives and neighbours what brand of TV they possess and try to ascertain which is the brand recommended by most, before purchasing a TV for your own home.

Further, the process often occurs between two persons rather than in a large group setting. Thus, the opinion leadership process can also be thought of as the ‘word-of-mouth’ communication. The advice of opinion leaders is sought in case of specific products. People who have acquired considerable knowledge and experience in a particular field are thought of as opinion leaders in that area.

Both opinion leaders and followers receive information on all kinds of products and services from the mass media. But the opinion receivers are more influenced by the opinion leaders rather than the media. In the eyes of the opinion receiver, the opinion leader has more credibility than the mass media.

The opinion leaders become a sort of ‘middleman’ receiving information from mass media and passing it on to opinion receivers. Advertisers and marketers are concerned with reaching the opinion leaders and ensuring that they receive the intended information which they can, in turn, pass on to opinion receivers. Thus, the first task of the marketer is to identify the opinion leaders.

In a particular society, persons who are members or participants in a number of social organizations and have high social activity participation are likely candidates for opinion leaders. Having identified the opinion leaders, the next task is to reach them through the media which they patronize.

Direct mail pieces, magazines and journals of clubs and social organizations and special interest magazines (for specialty products) are some of the appropriate channels for this purpose.

Opinion leaders are usually innovators. They are always trying out new products and brands, and recommending them to the opinion receivers. The acceptance of new products, brands, and ideas is known as the diffusion of innovation. In a narrow sense, innovation is defined as something new or modified which has a relative advantage over the existing products.

Marketers are concerned with the spread or diffusion of this innovation which is a two-step process. The first step is the spread of awareness of an innovation from its source to the consumers. The second step is the individual consumer decision making process which leads to the acceptance or rejection of the innovation.

iii. Family:

The family is the most important of all these groups. The family as a unit, is an important consumer for many products which are purchased for consumption by all family members. It is a source of major influence on the individual members’ buying behaviour. We can identify two families which shape an individual’s consumption behaviour.

One is the family of orientation that is the family in which you are born and consists of your parents, brothers and sisters. It is from parents that we imbibe most of our values, attitudes, beliefs and purchase behaviour patterns. Long after an individual has ceased to live with his parents, their influence on the subconscious mind still continues to be great.

In our country, where children continue to live with their parents even after attaining adulthood, the influence is extremely important. The second type of family is the family of procreation consisting of the consumer’s spouse and children. Within the family, different members play different roles.

Marketers are interested in finding out exactly the role played by individual members so that they can appropriately design their promotion strategy to suit these differing roles. Traditionally, it has been the wife’s role to purchase food, clothing and other household sundries, while the husband played a dominant role in the purchase of automobiles and life insurance.

But with the emergence of the working woman, these lines of traditional role demarcation have been getting increasingly blurred. Husbands now have to shoulder a greater part of the household duties while women are asserting themselves in areas so far treated as the husband’s domain. Thus, the same decision, in different families may be made either by the husband or wife, or both may have an equal voice.

Children are also beginning to exert their influence on the family’s purchase decisions. This is especially true in case of products such as television, stereo music systems, records, personal computers, etc., where the children are likely to have more updated information about various brands and product attributes.

iv. Roles:

An individual may participate in many groups. His position within each group can be defined in terms of the activities he is expected to perform. You are probably a manager, and when in your work situation you play that role. However, at home you play the role of spouse and parent. Thus, in different social positions you play different roles. Each of these roles influences your purchase decisions.

As a manager, you would like to buy clothes which reflect your status within the organization, such as safari suit, three-piece suit, tie, leather shoes, etc. But at home where you are in a relaxed and informal situation you would prefer clothes which are comfortable rather than formal and you may wear shirts, jeans, kurta pajama, dhoti or shorts.

v. Status:

Each role that a person plays has status, which is the relatively prestigious in society. Status is often measured by the degree of influence an individual exerts on the behaviour and attitude of others.

People buy and use products which reflect their status. The managing director of a company may drive a Mercedes to communicate his status in society. He may go to London or Switzerland for a holiday, rather than going to Shimla or Ooty.

vi. Group Norms:

The norms of a group are the implicit rules of conduct and behaviour that are expected of its member. For instance, in certain multinational companies in India, the norm for office wear includes a full-sleeved shirt and tie, notwithstanding the terrible heat conditions. If marketers can identify the various groups to which potential consumers belong, they can successfully market those products and services whose consumption is dictated by the group norms.

3. Personal Factors:

A consumer’s decisions are also affected by his personal characteristics including:

i. Age,

ii. Occupation,

iii. Life-style and

iv. Personality.

i. Age and Stages in the Life Cycle:

The first factor influencing a consumer’s decision is his age. The need for different products and services changes with the passing of age. Milk powder, toys, baby foods are special preference of the babies and children. Adults require different kind of clothing, educational facilities, recreational facilities and much more items related to fashion. Girls and women require different products than that of their male counterparts.

Consumption pattern is also affected by the specific stage of the life cycle. With the different stages in the cycle, different products are attached with each stage. For example, young and unmarried people living away from home have few financial burdens, are engaged in buying kitchen equipment and light furniture.

They also enjoy leisure time and spend money on items like color TV or stereo systems. On the contrary, old married couples with dependent children, spend on education, cars, home and necessary appliances. So, life cycle stages do effect a buyer’s decision.

ii. Occupation and Economic Circumstances:

Occupation also influences a person’s consumption pattern. Marketers try to identify the occupational groups that have above average interest in their products and services.

The choice regarding product is greatly affected by person’s economic circumstances. It consists of consumer’s spendable income, savings, assets, borrowing power, perception and attitude towards spending and savings. Marketers have to pay a continuous and constant attention towards personal income, savings and interest rates in the market because their marketing efforts depend on these issues.

For example, if interest rates are low, then there would be more money supply in the market and accordingly, marketers can take steps to reposition or replace their products and vice-versa.

iii. Lifestyle:

Lifestyle is a more comprehensive and more contemporary concept and perceived as more useful than the concept of personality. A lifestyle is the person’s pattern of living in the world as expressed in activities, interests and opinions. In nutshell – lifestyle addresses the way consumers express their personalities in their social and cultural environment. Lifestyle portrays the “whole person” interacting with his/her environment.

According to SRI Consultancy Business Intelligence’s VALS Framework, Segmentation System is based on responses to a questionnaire featuring 4 demographic and 35 attitudinal questions.

The tendencies of the 4 groups with high resources are:

a. Actualizes – Successful, sophisticated, active, “take-charge” people. Favour up-scale, niche-oriented products.

b. Fulfillers – Mature, satisfied, comfortable, and reflective. Favour durability, functionality and value in products.

c. Achievers – Successful, career and work oriented. Favour established prestige products.

d. Experiences – Young, vital, enthusiastic, impulsive and rebellious. Spend a comparatively high proportion of income on clothing, fast food, music, movies and video.

The major tendencies of the 4 groups with low resources are:

a. Believers – Conservative, conventional and traditional. Favour family products and established brands.

b. Strivers – Uncertain, insecure, approval seeking, resource constrained. Favour stylish products.

c. Makers – Practical, self-sufficient, traditional, family oriented. Favour products with a practical or functional purpose.

d. Strugglers – Elderly, resigned, passive, concerned, resource constrained.

iv. Personality:

Personality means distinguishing psychological characteristics that lead to relatively consistent and enduring responses to environment. It refers to all the internal traits and behaviours that make a person unique, uniqueness arrives from a person’s heredity and personal experiences. Examples include –

a. Workaholism,

b. Compulsiveness,

c. Self Confidence,

d. Friendliness,

e. Adaptability,

f. Ambitiousness,

g. Dogmatism,

h. Authoritarianism,

i. Introversion,

j. Extroversion.

Traits affect the way people behave. There is a weak association between personalities and buying behaviour, this may be due to unreliable measures. Marketers try to match the store image to the perceived image of their customers.

4. Psychological Factors:

A person’s acquired needs are influenced by certain psychological factors such as:

i. Motivation,

ii. Perception,

iii. Learning and beliefs and

iv. Attitudes.

i. Motivation:

A person has many needs at any given time. A motive is a need that is sufficiently pressing to drive the person’s to act. Motivation is a process of restoring the balance between actual and designed state of mind that has been affected by some physiological or psychological deprivation.

The deprivation may be the cause of simple reaction in human biological system causing hunger, thirst, security and desire for recognition etc., or it may be due to complicated acquired needs. So, it is very important for the marketers to have a close eye on the dynamic process of motivation.

Three of the best known theories of motivation are:

a. Freud’s Theory:

Sigmund Freud assumed that the psychological forces shaping people’s behaviour are largely unconscious, and that a person cannot fully understand his/her own motivations. When a person examines specific brands, he or she will react not only to their stated capabilities, but also to other, less conscious cues.

Shape, size, weight, material, color, and brand name can all trigger certain associations and emotions. Motivation researchers often collect “in-depth interviews” in order to uncover deeper motives triggered by a product. They use various projective techniques such as – word association, sentence completion, picture interpretation and role playing.

b. Maslow’s Theory:

A.H. Maslow, an American psychologist, has developed a theory of motivation on the basis of human needs.

According to him, human needs can be classified into the five categories as given below:

(1) Physiological Needs – Including needs for food, drink, air, activity, rest, etc.

(2) Safety Needs – Consisting of physical safety against physical danger like fire, accident etc., and economic safety against unemployment, old age, sickness etc.

(3) Social Needs – Covering needs for love, acceptance, affection, friendship, etc.

(4) Ego or Self-Esteem Needs – Implying needs for independence, self-confidence, status, achievement, etc.

(5) Self-Actualization Needs – Needs to realize one’s full potentialities i.e., the desire to become whatever one is capable of becoming.

People will try to satisfy their most important needs first. When a person succeeds in satisfying an important need, he or she will then try to satisfy the next most important need. Maslow’s theory help, marketers understand how various products fit into the plans, goals, and lives of consumers.

c. Hertzberg’s Theory:

Frederick Herzberg developed a two-factor theory that distinguishes dissatisfiers (factors that cause dissatisfaction) and satisfiers (factors that cause satisfaction). The absence of dissatisfiers is not enough; satisfiers must be present to motivate a purchase.

Herzberg’s Theory has two implications. First, sellers should do their best to avoid dissatisfiers. Second, the seller should identify the major satisfiers or motivators of purchase in the market and then supply them. These satisfiers will make the major difference as to which brand the customer buys.

ii. Perception:

What do you see? Perception is the process of selecting, organizing and interpreting information inputs to produce meaning. Information inputs are the sensations received though sight, taste, hearing, smell and touch.

Three perceptual processes are:

a. Selective Attention – A person cannot possibly attend to all of stimuli; most stimuli will be screened out – a process called selective attention.

b. Selective Distortion – It is the tendency to twist information into personal meanings and interpret information in a way that will fit our preconceptions.

c. Selective Retention – It is the tendency to remember good points mentioned about a product we like and forget goods points mentioned about competing products.

iii. Learning:

Learning involves changes in an individual’s behaviour arising from experience. Most human behaviour is learned. Theorist believes that learning is produced through the interplay of drives, stimuli, cues, responses and reinforcement.

Learning can be broadly classified into two dimensions:

a. Behavioral Learning – Behavioral learning is the process of developing automatic responses to a situation built up through repeated exposure to it. Marketers use two concepts from behavioural learning theory. Stimulus generalization occurs when a response elicited by one stimulus is generalized to another and Stimulus discrimination refers to a person’s ability to perceive differences in stimuli.

b. Cognitive Learning – Cognitive learning involves making connections between two or more ideas or simply observing the outcomes of other’s behaviour and adjusting one’s accordingly.

iv. Beliefs and Attitudes:

A belief is a descriptive thought that a person holds about something. A consumer may hold both positive beliefs towards an object (e.g., coffee tastes good) as well as negative beliefs (e.g., coffee is easily spilled). In addition, some beliefs may be neutral (coffee is black), and some may differ in valence depending upon the person or the situation (coffee is hot and stimulates – good on a cold morning but not well on a hot summer evening when one wants to sleep).

An attitude is a person’s enduring favorable or unfavorable evaluation, emotional feelings and action tendencies towards some object or an idea. In other words, attitude refers to a learned predisposition to respond to an object or class of objects in a consistently favorable or unfavorable way.

Marketers try to adopt various approaches in order to change consumer attitudes such as – changing beliefs about the extent to which a brand has certain attributes; changing the perceived importance of attributes; and adding new attributes to the product.


Factors of Consumer Behaviour – Cultural Factors, Social Factors, Personal Factors and Psychological Factors

Factor # 1. Cultural Factor:

i. Culture:

Culture is part of every society and it is the reason of a person’s wants and behaviour. The growing child acquires a set of values, perceptions, preferences, and behaviors through his or her family and other key institutions. For example, Indians happen to be very family centric, their values and needs are centered on their families.

On the other hand, the Americans are very individualistic, which means that individual values get a lot of prominence. Indians are more committed to their family and they care about their families and its needs, wants and expectations while the Americans pay a lot of attention to themselves, their thoughts and values.

ii. Subculture:

Subcultures are the further extension of cultures. India represents eastern culture and now in this culture we have further bifurcation in terms of Punjabi; Marwari, Bihari, etc. Subcultures include nationalities, religions, racial groups, and geographic regions. Understanding the sub-culture help marketers to segment the market, and to design product according to the need of that segment.

iii. Social Class:

Every society is form of various social classes. Social class has a huge impact on the behaviour of its members. The members of a particular are homogeneous in their characteristics. Social classes do not reflect income alone, but also other indicators such as wealth, business, service, education, and location.

Social classes are homogeneous with in the class and heterogeneous with classes. A particular class of people will be different in dressing sense, way of speech, recreational preferences, and many other characteristics with respect to other social classes.

Factor # 2. Social Factors:

Man is a social creature.

Hence, his or her behaviour is greatly influenced by social factors like:

i. Reference groups,

ii. Family,

iii. Role and statuses.

i. Reference Groups:

A person’s reference groups consist of all the groups that have a direct or indirect influence on the person’s attitude or behaviour. In other words, individual identifies with the group to the extent that he takes on many of the values, attitudes or behaviour of the group members.

Families, friends, sororities, civic and professional organization, any group that has a positive or negative influence on a person’s attitude and behaviour is referred to as a reference group. The degree to which a reference group will affect a purchase decision depends on an individual’s susceptibility to reference group influence and the strength of his/her involvement with the group.

ii. Family:

The family is the most important consumer buying organization in a society. Family members constitute the most influential primary reference group. Although, now-a- days, women’s roles are changing fast but still they make buying decisions related to household items like healthcare products, food etc. Joint decisions of husbands and wives are also taken as regards to a variety of products, and expensive items. Today, children also play a bigger role in family purchase decisions.

We can distinguish between two families in the buyer’s life:

a. Family of orientation – consists of one’s parents.

b. Family of procreation – consists of one’s spouse and children.

Family is the most basic group a person belongs to. Marketers must understand –

(1) That many family decisions are made by the family unit.

(2) Consumer behaviour starts in the family unit.

(3) Family roles and preferences are the model for children’s future family (can reject / alter etc.)

(4) Family buying decisions are a mixture of family interactions and individual decision making.

(5) Family acts as interpreter of social and cultural values for the individual.

(6) Family influences on consumer behaviour result from three sources –

a. Consumer Socialization:

It is the process by which people acquire the skills, knowledge and attributes necessary to function as consumers.

b. Family Life Cycle:

The distinct phase that a family progresses through from formation to retirement. Each phase bringing with it identifiable purchasing behaviors.

(i) Bachelor stage,

(ii) Newly married, young, no children,

(iii) Full nest I, youngest child under 6;

(iv) Full nest II, youngest child 6 or over;

(v) Full nest III, older married couples with dependent children,

(vi) Empty nest I, older married couples with no children living with them, head in labor force.

(vii) Empty nest II, older married couples, no children living at home, head retired.

(viii) Solitary survivor, in labor force.

(ix) Solitary survivor, retired.

(x) Modernized life cycle includes divorced and no children.

c. Family Decision Making:

Two decision making styles exist:

(i) Spouse – dominant (either wife or husband is responsible)

(ii) Joint Decision Making (most decisions are made by both husband and wife)

Increasingly, preteens and teenagers are assuming these roles for the family, given the prevalence of working parents and single-parent households.

iii. Roles and Statuses:

A person participates in many groups-families, clubs, organizations. The person’s position in each group can be defined in terms of role and status. A role can be defined as a set of functions and activities that a person in a particular position is expected to perform. For example, your role may include student, son/daughter, friend, employee, and spouse or parent etc. A person’s various roles influence buying behaviour.

Each role that a person plays has a degree of status which is in relative term perceived by the society. It is the degree of influence that an individual exerts on the behaviour of others.

Factor # 3. Personal Factors:

A buyer’s decisions are also influenced by personal characteristics. These include the buyer’s age and stage in the life cycle, occupation, economic circumstances, lifestyle, and personality and self-concept.

i. Age and Stage in the Life Cycle:

Age has an important impact on buying behaviour of an individual. This change in behaviour with the age is a very natural course for all buyers. The kind of food an infant consumes and the kind of clothes they wear changes when they are teenagers and when they are working professionals.

ii. Occupation:

Occupation also has an impact on consumption pattern of individual. Marketers try to identify the working group and plan according to the need or requirement of the group. A manger will buy more formal shirts and trouser and stationary then a chef in a hotel. Many companies customize their product according to the profession of a client for example computer software company SAP design software according to the need of customers.

iii. Income:

Income refers to the disposable income of an individual i.e., income which is left after paying income tax, provident fund and other deductions. Income has a very important influence on one’s buying and consumption behaviour. Products are divided in two groups one is necessity goods and the other is luxurious good.

Luxurious goods are income sensitive and for marketing such product a very close watch on saving trend should be kept from marketer’s side. To maintain sales across groups of product strategies such as making good available in sachets has worked very well for most of the organization.

iv. Lifestyle:

Every individual have a different way of living a life that different ways are termed as one’s life style. Different ways over here means the way one’s spend money, one’s interest, dressing sense and other various activities. People from the same subculture, social class, and occupation may lead quite different lifestyles. Lifestyle is the way we want people to see us.

Success of Two minute Maggi is a result of fast lifestyle of metro cities. Marketers have to search for relationships between their products and lifestyle groups and have to create new ideas of marketing based of lifestyles. In a day every individual have to portray different roles a twenty year old is a son/daughter, student, and a friend how this twenty year old blend these different roles reflects his/her lifestyle.

v. Personality:

Personality is a sum total of an individual’s characteristics, attitudes, motives, beliefs. All this characteristics lead to consistent response to environment. Research is been done in various concept of personality to predict consumer behaviour.

Research on personalities has ensured that a person’s responses are constant over time and are predictable. This research helps to predict the total personality of individual or the part of it. Many brands are successful because their marketing strategies are based on such research.

Factor # 4. Psychological Factors:

A person’s buying choices are influenced by four major psychological factors namely:

i. Motivation,

ii. Perception,

iii. Learning, and

iv. Beliefs and attitudes.

i. Motivation:

Everybody has needs which are fulfilled by various products and services. Needs are classified in two types one is primary group which is related to physiological need such as food, cloth, shelter. The other type of need is secondary needs such as power, prestige, affection we seek from other status etc.

ii. Perception:

The second most important psychological factor is perception. Perception is way we see our surroundings. We all receive message from our surrounding in the sense of sights, sounds, smells, tastes. Every day we are exposed to variety of stimuli an individual recognizes this message select among this message and organizes and interprets according to their understanding of the message.

iii. Learning:

Since childhood we learn from others, learning is of two types: formal learning and informal learning. Formal learning takes place is educational institute, training centers and informal learning is about learning by observing. Learning enhances the skill and knowledge of an individual. A marketer can build up demand by associating its product with positive reinforcement.

Suppose you buy a Raymond suit. If your experience is rewarding, your response to the brand of Raymond’s is positively reinforced. Later on, when you want to buy ‘ a formal shirt, you may assume that because suit can be stitched well, their formal shirts will also be of good quality. In other words you generalize your response to similar stimuli.

iv. Beliefs:

A belief is a thought based on knowledge, opinion, or experience of a person about particular things. These beliefs are based on some real facts or it may merely be an opinion that a person has. For example group of vegetarians who believe that eating non-veg is not good for health even though meat is scientifically proven to have more protein than any other vegetable.

Marketers are very much interested in the thought process of an individual because beliefs also play an important role in buying behaviour. Marketers make it a point that customers should have all relevant information’s about the product before they form any beliefs about the product or about the brand.

v. Attitudes:

Since childhood with each input of knowledge, experience formation of attitude take place with each input of knowledge. Unlike belief, attitudes are tough to change. Attitude is a person’s feeling, evaluation and tendency towards a particular object. It is better to market a product which fits in well with the existing patters of attitudes rather than wasting money to change the attitude by coming with new product.


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