There are thousands of reasons why consumers behave and purchase the way they do. There are entire research teams focused on the psychology of the consumer. In order to have a successful business or product, it is critical that you understand the “why” behind consumer decisions, in order to predict the outcome. If you know the “why” in advance, you can customize your product to meet these needs in order to ensure your success.
Consumer buyer behavior and decision making processes both surround one important issue, which is “why does the consumer do/not do this?” By understanding the consumer, we find ourselves better equipped to fit their needs. The four major factors that impact a consumer’s decision making process are cultural, social, personal, and psychological.
Cultural factors can stem from one’s culture, subculture, place in society, and upbringing. Culture is a greatly influential aspect of a person’s life. For example, McDonald’s adapts itself for foreign markets by carrying products that meet the religious needs of the Hindu religion in India. Because the Hindus believe that the slaughter of a cow is unholy, McDonald’s provides several vegetarian burger alternatives. By doing this, they open up their doors to a consumer base that would have never stepped foot in their otherwise.
Social factors include groups, family, roles, and status. These are all outside influences that effect buyer behavior. If you are in a group, for example, you are around those people on a regular basis. They influence your behavior in general, which then has an effect on your buying decisions. In addition to pressure from friends and family to behave a certain way, there is also the pressure of roles and status. You won’t see the CEO of a prominent company buying discount toilet paper in a Wal-Mart, because of her status and her role in society. There is always pressure to have the best of everything, and to afford yourself quality goods if they are within your budget.
Personal factors are, of course, the most influential when it comes to decision making. Personal factors can include lifecycle stage, occupation, economic circumstances, lifestyle, personality, and self-concept. I will use popular clothing stores as an example. Forever21 is a brand that markets towards young girls that need cheap, fashionable clothing. Nordstrom’s markets itself to older men and women with a higher amount of disposable income. Because of their age and economic status, they will choose Nordstrom’s over Forever21, whereas the young girl with a limited budget will choose the latter.
Psychological factors may be the hardest to ascertain. They can include motivation, perception, beliefs, and attitude. Motivations can be simply the need for certain comforts, like food and shelter. If someone needs these things, they will behave a certain way. Beliefs are very strong influencers as well. If you see a company that is known for using sweat shops or child labor, and those things go against your beliefs, you may choose to avoid that brand.
There are many factors that have an effect on consumer’s and their purchasing decisions. It is essential that we, as marketers, discover how we can use these factors to attain attention and desire from the consumer.