Meaning of Consumer Behaviour
Consumer behaviour studies why, when, how, and where people do or do not buy a product. It blends elements from sociology, psychology, social anthropology, and economics. It attempts to understand the decision making process of a consumer, both individually and in groups.
The terms consumer buying behaviour, end-user behaviour and buyer behaviour all stand for the same. The study of consumer behaviour is the study of how people make decisions to spend their available resources (time, money, effort) on consumption-related items. It includes studying why they buy it, what they buy, when they buy it, where they buy it, how often they buy it, and how often they use it.
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Take the simple product toothpaste. Consumer researchers want to know what types of toothpaste consumers buy (regular, gel, striped, in a tube, with a pump); what brand (national brand, private brand, generic brand), and why they buy it (to remove stains, to prevent cavities, to brighten or whiten teeth, to use as a mouthwash, to attract romance); where they buy it (supermarket, drugstore, convenience store); how often they use it (when they wake up in the morning, after each meal, when they go to bed, or any combination thereof); and how often they buy it (weekly, biweekly, or monthly).
Consumer behaviour may be defined as the decision process and physical activity people engage in when acquiring, evaluating, using, or disposing of goods and services”.
Definition of Consumer Behaviour
According to Belch and Belch, “Consumer behaviour is the process and activities people engage in when searching for, selecting, purchasing, using, evaluating, and disposing of products and services to satisfy their needs and desires”.
According to Solomon, “Consumer behaviour is the process involved when individuals or groups select, purchase, use, or dispose of products, services, ideas or experiences to satisfy needs and wants”.
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According to Leon G. Schiffman and Leslie Lazar Kanuk, “Consumer behaviour can be defined as the behaviour that consumers display in searching for, purchasing, using, evaluating, and disposing of products and services that they expect will satisfy their needs”.
So in consumer behaviour, it is not only learnt, what is the behaviour of the consumer when he buys a product but also before the consumption, during the consumption and after the consumption.
Characteristics of Consumer Behaviour
The characteristics of consumer buying behaviour are discussed below:
1) Systematic Process: Consumer behaviour is a systematic process relating to buying decisions of the customers. The process of buying includes the following steps:
i) Need identification to buy the product,
ii) Information search relating to the product,
iii) Listing & Evaluating the alternative (cost-benefit analysis),
iv) Purchase decision,
v) Post-purchase evaluation by the marketer.
2) Influenced by Various Factors: Consumer behaviour is influenced by several factors. The factors that influenced consumers include, marketing, personal, psychological, situational, social, cultural etc.
3) Different for Different Customers: All consumers do not act in the same manner. Different consumers behave differently. The difference in consumer behaviour is due to personal factors such as the nature of the consumer’s lifestyle, culture, etc
4) Different for Different Products: Consumer behaviour is totally different for different products. Some consumers may buy more quantity of certain items and very low/no quantity of some other things.
5) Varies Across Regions: Consumer behaviour varies across states, regions and countries. For example, the behaviour of urban consumers is very different from that of rural consumers. Generally, rural consumers are conservative (traditional) in their buying behaviour.
6) Vital for Marketers: Marketers must have a good knowledge of consumer behaviour. They need to study the various factors that influence the consumer behaviour of their target audience. The knowledge of consumer behaviour enables marketers to take suitable marketing decisions.
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7) Reflects Status: Consumers’ buying behaviour is not only influenced by the status of a consumer, but it also reflects it. Those consumers who own luxury watches, cars, and other items are considered by others as persons of higher status.
8) Result in Spread-effect: Consumer behaviour has a spread effect. The buying behaviour of one individual may affect the buying behaviour of another person.
For example, a customer may always prefer to buy premium brands of clothing, watches and other items etc. which may influence some of his friends, neighbours, and colleagues. This is one of the reasons why marketers use celebrities like Shah Rukh Khan, and Sachin Tendulkar to endorse their brands.
9) Improves Standard of Living: Consumer buying behaviour may lead to a higher standard of living. The more someone buys goods and services, the higher the standard of living
10) Undergoes a Change: The consumer’s behaviour changes over time depending on age, education, income level changes, etc. For example, kids may prefer colourful dresses, but as they grow up as teenagers and young adults, they may prefer trendy clothes.
11) Information Search: The search for information is a common characteristic of consumer behaviour. Consumers cannot purchase goods and services if they are not aware that a good or service exists.
When a consumer decides to buy a certain item, his decision must be based on the information he has gathered about what products or services are available to fulfil his needs. There might be a product available that would be better suited to the consumer’s needs, but if a person is not aware of the product, he will not buy it.
12) Brand Loyalty: Brand loyalty is another characteristic of consumer behaviour. Brand loyalty is the tendency of a consumer to buy products or services from a certain company that one likes or equates with having high-quality goods and services.
For example, if Naina’s first car was a Honda as a teenager and the car lasted 200,000 miles, she might tend to buy Hondas in the future due to her previous positive experience. This brand loyalty may be so strong that she forges the information search altogether when considering her next vehicle.