Buyer Behviour Essay

This essay has a total of 2820 words and 13 pages.

Buyer Behviour

Importance of understanding customer motives
The task of marketing is to identify consumers' needs and wants accurately, then to
develop products and services that will satisfy them. For marketing to be successful, it
is not sufficient to merely discover what customers require, but to find out why it is
required. Only by gaining a deep and comprehensive understanding of buyer behaviour can
marketing's goals be realised. Such an understanding of buyer behaviour works to the
mutual advantage of the consumer and marketer, allowing the marketer to become better
equipped to satisfy the consumer's needs efficiently and establish a loyal group of
customers with positive attitudes towards the company's products.

Consumer behaviour can be formally defined as: the acts of individuals directly involved
in obtaining and using economic goods and services, including the decision processes that
precede and determine these acts. The underlying concepts of this chapter form a system in
which the individual consumer is the core, surrounded by an immediate and a wider
environment that influences his or her goals. These goals are ultimately satisfied by
passing through a number of problem-solving stages leading to purchase decisions. The
study and practice of marketing draws on a great many sources that contribute theory,
information, inspiration and advice. In the past, the main input to the theory of consumer
behaviour has come from psychology. More recently, the interdisciplinary importance of
consumer behaviour has increased such that sociology, anthropology, economics and
mathematics also contribute to the science relating to this subject.

2 Social and cultural influences
Culture is ‘learned' behaviour that has been passed down over time, reinforced in our
daily lives through the family unit and through educational and religious institutions.
Cultural influences, therefore, are powerful ones and if a company does not understand the
culture in which a particular market operates, it cannot hope to develop products and
market them successfully in that market.

It is important to recognise that culture, although immensely powerful, is not fixed
forever. Changes in culture tend to be slow and are not fully assimilated until a
generation or more has passed. An example of this is the custom of marriage, which has
been openly challenged in the UK over the past twenty years. When couples first began to
set up home together and raise families outside marriage, society, for the most part,
adopted an attitude of condemnation, whereas today there is a much more relaxed attitude
to those who choose to ignore the convention.

The twentieth century has witnessed significant cultural changes, for example, changing
attitudes towards work and pleasure. It is no longer accepted that work should be
difficult or injurious to mind or body, and many employers make great efforts to ensure
that the work-place is as pleasant an environment as possible, realising that this
probably increases productivity. Employees now more frequently regard work as a means to
earn the money to spend on goods or services that give them pleasure, and not just to pay
for the necessities of life. The shortened working week, paid holidays and labour-saving
devices in the home have all led to increased leisure time that influences how, when and
what the consumer buys. Another major cultural change in this century is the changing role
of women in society. Increased independence and economic power have not only changed the
lives of women, but have also influenced society's and women's own perception of their
socio-economic role.

In most Western societies today, when considering culture, we must also consider
subcultures. Immigrant communities have become large enough in many countries to form a
significant proportion of the population of that country, and marketers must consider them
because of their interactive influence on society and because, in some cases, they
constitute individual market segments for certain product areas. Subcultures can also
exist within the same racial groups sharing common nationality. Their bases may be
geographical, religious or linguistic differences and marketers must recognise these
differences and should regard them as providing opportunities rather than posing problems.

3 Specific social influences
3.1 Social class
This is the most prominent social influence. Traditionally, one of the chief determinants
of social class was income. Since pay structures have altered a great deal in terms of the
lower C2, D and E categories moving more towards levels previously enjoyed by the higher
A, B and C1 categories over the past thirty years or so, classification of consumers on
the basis of ‘life style' is becoming more meaningful today. Income aside, social class
is an indicator of life style and its existence exerts a strong influence on individual
consumers and their behaviour. There is evidence to suggest that whatever income level a
consumer reaches during his or her lifetime, basic attitudes and preferences do not change
radically. As consumers, we usually identify with a particular class or group, but often
it is not the actual social class that is revealing, but that which the consumer aspires
to. Income and/or education allows young people to ‘cross' social class barriers and
adopt life styles which are different from those of their parents. They will tend to
absorb the influences of the group to which they aspire and gradually reject the life
styles of their parents and relations. It can thus be seen that occupation is a strong
determinant towards an individual's behavioural patterns, which includes buyer behaviour.

When studying social class, the marketer should make decisions on the basis of information
revealed by objectively designed research, without any preconceptions or associations with
inferiority or superiority in ‘lower' or ‘higher' social groupings. This is the only
way that changes in behaviour can be identified.

3.2 Reference groups
This can be described as group of people whose standards of conduct mould an individual's
dispositions, beliefs and values. This group can be small or large. Reference groups can
range from the immediate family to the place of work. They can also be found in a person's
social life. An individual is unlikely to deviate too far from the behavioural norms laid
down by the members of a club or hobby group. Reference group theory does not state that
individualism cannot exist within a group, but it does suggest that even rigid independent
thinkers will at least be aware of what is considered ‘normal' within a group.

In a small group like the family the advice and opinions of those who are regarded as
knowledgeable will be highly regarded. Such people are termed ‘opinion leaders'.
Extraneous to groups influences might also be at work in opinion forming, and here there
is the existence of opinion leaders who are outside of the immediate group. Their opinions
are taken up by ‘opinion followers'. In the case of a number of products, a deliberate
direct appeal is made to the so-called ‘snob appeal'. This is done by using a marketing
strategy of making a company's products acceptable to opinion leaders, or famous
personalities (who are paid for their endorsement) in the hope that other sectors of the
population will follow them.

The family is perhaps the strongest reference group for most people because of its
intimacy and relative permanence. Strong associations means that individuals within this
group will influence each other.

The family life cycle traditionally contains six stages, although more recently different
divisions have been quoted. These divisions are:

1. Unmarried Here, financial commitments and family responsibilities tend to be low,
with disposable income being high. These younger unmarried consumers tend to be more
leisure-orientated and more fashion conscious. This segment thus comprises a very
important market for many new and innovative products.

2. Young newly married couples - no children This group focuses its expenditure on
those items considered necessary for setting up home.

3. Young married couples with children Outlay here is children-orientated, and there
is little surplus cash for luxury items. Although they are receptive to new product ideas,
this group sees economy as being the over-riding factor when making purchases.

4. Older married couples still with children at home Disposable income will probably
have increased, often with both parents working and children being relatively independent.
In some cases children may be working and the parents are able to engage increasingly in
leisure activities often in the form of more than the ‘standard' annual holiday.
Consumer durables, including major items of furniture, are often replaced at this stage.
Such purchases are often made with different motivations to the original motivations of
strict functionality and economy that was necessary at an earlier life cycle stage.

5. Older married couples with no children living in the home Here, disposable income
can be quite high. However, tastes are likely to be firmly rooted reflected in unchanging
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