BUYER BEHAVIOR

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BUYER BEHAVIOR:

BUYER BEHAVIOR

INTRODUCTION:

INTRODUCTION An important part of the marketing process is to understand why a customer or buyer makes apurchase . Without such an understanding, businesses find it hard to respond to the customer’s needs and wants. Marketing theory traditionally splits analysis of buyer or customer behaviour into two broad groups for analysis – Consumer Buyers and Industrial Buyers Consumer buyers are those who purchase items for their personal consumption Industrial buyers are those who purchase items on behalf of their business or organisation Businesses now spend considerable sums trying to learn about what makes “customers tick”. The questions they try to understand are: • Who buys? • How do they buy? • When do they buy? • Where do they buy? • Why do they buy? For a marketing manager, the challenge is to understand how customers might respond to the different elements of the marketing mix that are presented to them. If management can understand these customer responses better than the competition, then it is a potentially significant source of competitive advantage.

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Buyer behaviour - Types of Cultural / Social influences Cultural factors have a significant impact on customer behaviour. Culture is the most basic cause of a person’s wants and behaviour. Growing up, children learn basic values, perception and wants from the family and other important groups. Marketing are always trying to spot “cultural shifts” which might point to new products that might be wanted by customers or to increased demand. For example, the cultural shift towards greater concern about health and fitness has created opportunities (and now industries) servicing customers who wish to buy: • Low calorie foods • Health club memberships • Exercise equipment • Activity or health-related holidays etc. Similarly the increased desire for “leisure time” has resulted in increased demand for convenience products and services such as microwave ovens, ready meals and direct marketing service businesses such as telephone banking and insurance. Each culture contains “sub-cultures” – groups of people with share values. Sub-cultures can include nationalities, religions, racial groups, or groups of people sharing the same geographical location. Sometimes a sub-culture will create a substantial and distinctive market segment of its own.

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buyer behaviour - social factors Introduction A customer’s buying behaviour is also influenced by social factors, such as the groups to which the customer belongs and social status. In a group, several individuals may interact to influence the purchase decision. The typical roles in such a group decision can be summarised as follows: Initiator The person who first suggests or thinks of the idea of buying a particular product or service Influencer A person whose view or advice influences the buying decision Decider The individual with the power and/or financial authority to make the ultimate choice regarding which product to buy Buyer The person who concludes the transaction User The person (or persons) who actually uses the product or service The family unit is usually considered to be the most important “buying” organisation in society. It has been researched extensively. Marketers are particularly interested in the roles and relative influence of the husband, wife and children on the purchase of a large variety of products and services. There is evidence that the traditional husband-wife buying roles are changing. Almost everywhere in the world, the wife is traditionally the main buyer for the family, especially in the areas of food, household products and clothing. However, with increasing numbers of women in full-time work and many men becoming “home workers” (or “telecommuting”) the traditional roles are reversing.

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Buyer behaviour - The decision-making process How do customers buy? Research suggests that customers go through a five-stage decision-making process in any purchase. This is summarised in the diagram below: This model is important for anyone making marketing decisions. It forces the marketer to consider the whole buying process rather than just the purchase decision (when it may be too late for a business to influence the choice!) The model implies that customers pass through all stages in every purchase. However, in more routine purchases, customers often skip or reverse some of the stages. For example, a student buying a favourite hamburger would recognise the need (hunger) and go right to the purchase decision, skipping information search and evaluation. However, the model is very useful when it comes to understanding any purchase that requires some thought and deliberation. The buying process starts with need recognition. At this stage, the buyer recognises a problem or need (e.g. I am hungry, we need a new sofa, I have a headache) or responds to a marketing stimulus (e.g. you pass Starbucks and are attracted by the aroma of coffee and chocolate muffins). An “aroused” customer then needs to decide how much information (if any) is required. If the need is strong and there is a product or service that meets the need close to hand, then a purchase decision is likely to be made there and then. If not, then the process of information search begins. A customer can obtain information from several sources: • Personal sources: family, friends, neighbours etc • Commercial sources: advertising; salespeople; retailers; dealers; packaging; point-of-sale displays • Public sources: newspapers, radio, television, consumer organisations; specialist magazines • Experiential sources: handling, examining, using the product The usefulness and influence of these sources of information will vary by product and by customer. Research suggests that customers value and respect personal sources more than commercial sources (the influence of “word of mouth”). The challenge for the marketing team is to identify which information sources are most influential in their target markets. In the evaluation stage, the customer must choose between the alternative brands, products and services. How does the customer use the information obtained? An important determinant of the extent of evaluation is whether the customer feels “involved” in the product. By involvement, we mean the degree of perceived relevance and personal importance that accompanies the choice. Where a purchase is “highly involving”, the customer is likely to carry out extensive evaluation. High-involvement purchases include those involving high expenditure or personal risk – for example buying a house, a car or making investments. Low involvement purchases (e.g. buying a soft drink, choosing some breakfast cereals in the supermarket) have very simple evaluation processes. Why should a marketer need to understand the customer evaluation process? The answer lies in the kind of information that the marketing team needs to provide customers in different buying situations. In high-involvement decisions, the marketer needs to provide a good deal of information about the positive consequences of buying. The sales force may need to stress the important attributes of the product, the advantages compared with the competition; and maybe even encourage “trial” or “sampling” of the product in the hope of securing the sale. Post-purchase evaluation - Cognitive Dissonance The final stage is the post-purchase evaluation of the decision. It is common for customers to experience concerns after making a purchase decision. This arises from a concept that is known as “cognitive dissonance”. The customer, having bought a product, may feel that an alternative would have been preferable. In these circumstances that customer will not repurchase immediately, but is likely to switch brands next time.

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