The concept of consumer behaviour is one that is dynamic. Which covers many aspects. Throughout the academia world, there is many definitions to what consumer behaviour truly is.
Many concurring with one another. Whereas, there are academics whom oppose each other.
However, from my prior studies around this discipline, I have concluded my own definition for this discipline.
"Consumer behaviour is a subconscious feeling that is processed cognitively, and that we, as consumers, are not aware this is happening. The consumer decision making process occurs with little knowledge and awareness that it is taking place. Consumer behaviour is a micro-environmental process however there are numerous external factors that have to be taken into account; cost of living, personal wages, and their existing milieu".
This definition has been derived from original research for my MSc dissertation which takes a consumer behaviour/psychology/consumer neuroscience approach into the changing behaviours of consumers.
Ethnography studies, Eye-tracking research and Semi-Structured interviews were undertaken and it became evident that consumer behaviour was concerned with external factors that were out of the consumers' control.
From the original behaviour, consumers acted in a ritualistic manner, and self proclaimed that they purchased reduced products because of the current cost of living. This has meant they've had to alter their buying habits as a reactive technique.
The Consumer Decision Making Process
The consumer decision making process (DMP) is a methodology that academics and marketers utilise to gain an understanding of the consumer journey from start to finish. It aids their discovery on gaining a broader profile of their consumer.
The process is broken down into 5 (Often disputed 6 stages);
- Need Recognition
- Search for Information
- Evaluation of Alternatives
- Purchase Decision,
- Post-Purchase Evaluation
The primary stage, Need Recognition, does what it says on the tin, it is when the consumer identifies that he/she needs to fulfil a need to they've derived upon.
There are two contrasting aspects to Need Recognition. One being that some the consumer is an actual state type whom perceive that they have an issue when a product fails to satisfy their prior needs.
Whereas, other consumers are desired state types, who desire newer products.
Search for Information
Following this, comes the Search for Information.
Once the customer has concluded that they have recognised a need then it is just human nature that we seek information on our needs.
This could come in the form of recalling prior experiences of purchasing a relatable product, or by seeking information either within printed and/or digital media.
Evaluation of Alternatives
Evaluation of Alternatives follows, as consumers are becoming more savvy, and price sensitive in the contemporary world we tend to want to get value for our money.
Some consumers can make instant decisions of what they want (The likelihood of this is that they are purchasing a low-involvement products).
Whereas, others may process more cognitive thoughts into their purchases (high-involvement products).
Next, is the purchasing decision of the product/service. The consumer has come to conclusion upon their needs and has done the relevant research.
Therefore, at this stage, the consumer is fully committed to their decision. All there is to do now is the purchase these.
Have you ever regretted a purchasing decision, or have been elated that you have purchased a bargain?
I assume your answer to be yes.
Then this would have your Post-Purchase evaluation being processed. The stage is crucial to brands as the consumer has a strong influence of power to promote or slander brands.
One bad experience of a product/service can cause cognitive dissonance to their customer, where they witness mental discomfort.
Finally, the newer stage to the model is divestment. Divestment is the disposal methods that consumers take upon their purchase.
As our current society is more accepting to recycling. To be beneficial to the state of our world then marketers and academics have proposed this stage.
Implementing Corporate Social Responsibility practices is crucial in order to gain an understanding of how the customer divests their consumables.
Want me to help you understand the behaviour of your consumer?
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By understanding the behaviour of your target demographics you can expect higher returns.