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Consumer behavior can be defined as the study of why, how, where, and when people are in need of buying commodities and services. This combines elements from sociology, psychology, economics, and social anthropology. It tries to understand the decision making process of the buyer, both as an individual and when in groups. Consumer behavior analyzes the distinctiveness of individual consumers for instance demographics, psychographics and their perceptions in an effort to understand clients' wants. Consumer behavior is also very important when it comes to assessing the influences on the client from groups for example friends, family, the reference groups, and society as a whole (Hoyer & Macinnis, 2008).
The study of customer behavior is based on the client's buying behavior, as the client assumes three different roles for instance acting as the user of the commodities and services sold, the payer for the good and services, and finally the buyer for goods and services. Relationship marketing has become a significant feature for customer behavior investigation since it has a great concern in the re-discovery of the factual implication of marketing by the re-assertion of the significance of the buyer or customer. It is true that a greater consideration is placed on customer relationship management, consumer retention, customization, one-to-one marketing and personalization (Hayes, 2008).
It is apparent that consumers do not arrive at their conclusions in a vacuum. Whatever the clients buy is highly influenced by psychological, personal, and cultural social factors. In most cases, it is not the marketer that can control the behaviors and perceptions of clients even if the marketer should also do something about motivating the clients. The following are come of the factors that influence the customer behaviors: cultural factors, demographics, geographical factors, lifestyle of consumers, customer needs, psychographics, customer perception, and change in market place (Kahle, 2000).
It has been found that in diversified countries such as India, cultural factors bring about the deepest and broadest influence upon the behaviors of consumers. The buyer's culture, subculture, and the buyer's social class is to be considered so that to show exactly how behaviors of clients are affected by cultural factors (Hayes, 2008).
Culture is the most essential causal factor of a given client or customer's behavior and wants. While the lower creatures are only controlled by biological instinct, man's behavior is mostly acquired by learning just due to interaction between individuals within a given culture. As a child is brought up in a particular society he comes to learn the basic set of perceptions, preferences, values, and behaviors by the process of socialization concerning the family members and the individuals in other major institutions like schools. In this understanding, the child grows up knowing what and where they should be buying goods and services. It is clear that already the child has become a customer to some retailers simply because of the culture he finds himself in. For instance a child brought up in America is exposed to values such as activity, achievement and success, progress, youthfulness, freedom, material comfort, external comfort, individualism, humanitarianism, and efficiency and practicality (Hoyer & Macinnis, 2008).
Any given culture have smaller group of subcultures that bring about added definite socialization and identification for its individuals. The four kind of subculture can be separated, for instance the polish, Irish, Puerto Ricans, and Italians are discovered within big communities and display distinguishable ethnic preferences and Jews constitute subculture with definite culture taboos and tastes.
According to Schiffman & Kanuk (2009), the customer demographics constitute of all the measurements essential to statistically explain the base of end-user in a particular market. It is apparent that there is no business which can be everything to all individuals. But instead, the marketer can reach particular consumers and fulfill their specific needs. It very important for an entrepreneur to identify the available clients and understand as accurately as possible what their wants are, regarding to the goods and services the entrepreneur can possibly offer.
An entrepreneur should look for a cheaper process of discovering and learning potential customers which as well is very significant. In a nutshell, the marketer is required to determine everything possible regarding the clients they purpose to pursue. Once the marketer has all the information required, they will have extra better opportunity of captivating the available customers for the business (Swanson, et al. 2004).
When carrying out a research concerning a place to sell the products and services, the marketer should start the research by looking into the demographics of that area they plan to aim. The marketer should be required to understand the population's composition in terms of gender, age, income level, education, occupation, and family considerations. By this, the marketer will already know the type of goods and services that are most appropriate for the given population in a particular place (Hayes, 2008).
Geographic and Lifestyle Factors
An entrepreneur should consider the place where the target customers live as well as the way in which they live. For instance, the marketer should consider whether the target customers are urbanites as they can walk everywhere even into the store, or they are suburban moms who rarely come out of their cars, so that to sees whether there is need to allow for enough packing space. By considering weather, the marketer should understand whether the target customers are more likely to spend most of their time indoors, or if the outdoor activities are the most popular. An entrepreneur should also understand whether the target clients are conservative with their money or if they are spenders. By taking all these things into account, the marketer will be at a position to what should be sold to particular clients, how to sell it, and at what cost will it be sold (Swanson, et al. 2004).
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An entrepreneur should take into account all of the reasons to why clients might buy the product in stock or service available. For instance, if an entrepreneur is launching a health club, he should understand the priorities of the target customers. In this case he should know whether the clients desire to take exercise classes, do physical exercise with the instructor, or play racket sports with acquaintances. If the target customers leave early for work, then the entrepreneur should as well open early in the morning in order to accommodate them. The entrepreneur or marketer will be able to understand all these by talking to the individuals in local business industry and by quizzing friends or acquaintances who go to health clubs. Then the marketer can afford to design and market his club accordingly (Hayes, 2008).
Once the marketer has taken into account the significant demographic factors, he can start to bring together a customer profile, which can be defined as the most focused statement that provides the description of the target market into detail. Then the marketer is supposed to consult this customer profile when making decisions or concluding about issues for instance the type of products and services to provide or advertise as well as the cost at which various products and expansion plans will go at.
Psychographics marketing is a concept that is very crucial when it comes to marketing. It is a strategy that involves splitting potential clients into groups, with respect to their psychological attributes. In most cases marketing regards definite demographics, which has to do with factors for instance location, age, marital status, religion, and ethnicity of the individual in consideration. Psychographics is more advanced as compared to demographics as it allows for an entrepreneur to ask questions regarding the attitude, behavior, and the lifestyle of an individual that is being considered so as to build up an extra detailed picture regarding who clients are (Kahle, 2000).
Some years ago, advertisers could afford buying advertising space which aimed at attracting those people that they desired to purchase their commodities. For instance, they could look for an advertising space that aimed at men aged 20-30 who resided in the urban areas, and this was made ready by use of demographics. With the creation of psychographics marketing, admen can now aim at definite men within that particular demographic, for instance men who like to eat healthily, or work out regularly (Hayes, 2008).
According to Hayes (2008), consumers can assess a commodity along a variety of levels. Its fundamental features are integral to the standard version of the commodity and are delimited as the most important advantages it can provide to a client. Generic commodities can be made distinguishable by increasing the value through additional characteristics, for instance performance or quality sweetening. The ultimate level of client's perception constitutes improved attributes, which provide less touchable welfares, for example maintenance services, customer assistance, attracting payment alternatives, or training.
When it comes to competition with other companies and products, clients really value the added benefits during when they are making purchasing decisions, making it of more significance for manufacturers to comprehend the opinion of a total package as they market them to clients. For instance, when fabricating automotive parts, usually a high-performing product indubitably provide the customer stand with vital benefits, while technical assistance, skill training, and adding spare parts will provide increased characteristics to make a total package have raised attraction to clients (Kahle, 2000).
Changing in market place
Clients are today tending to be much more psychologically motivated in their behaviors. Clients are finding themselves exhausted in various ways as they experience lack of energy, the financial resources, or time to meet the challenges of these ever changing societies. Society changes have a remarkable effect on customer product markets. The developing surge of extremely engaged, involving and psychologically-driven consumers is chipping in to substantial market dynamics and fragmentation (Swanson, et al. 2004).
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