Saturday, 17 November 2012

Perspectives on Consumer Behavior

To understand perspectives on Consumer Behavior, we must first define "Consumer Behavior". It has been defined as the process and activities people engage in when searching for, selecting, purchasing, using, evaluating, and disposing of products and services so as to satisfy their needs and desires (Belch).

Hence, the consumer decision making process can be understood through the two models shown below-

As shown in the figure,  the consumer’s purchase decision process is generally viewed as consisting of stages through which the buyer passes in purchasing a product or service.

The first stage of the process is  - "Problem Recognition", the different sources of which can be summarized as - 

The causes of problem recognition may result from changes in the consumer’s current and/or desired state. They can be very simple or very complex in nature. They may be influenced by both internal and external factors.

Now, in order to understand the reasons underlying consumer purchases in a better way, the marketers try to examine the motives behind their actions.

One of the most popular approaches to understanding consumer motivations is based on the classic theory of  human motivation popularized many years ago by psychologist Abraham Maslow.

A somewhat more controversial approach to the study of consumer motives is the "Psychoanalytic Theory" pioneered by Sigmund Freud.

The question now is - What is perception?
 "Perception" is the process by which an individual receives, selects, organizes, and interprets information to create a meaningful picture of the world (Belch).
The Perception Process can be understood as -

Selectivity is an inevitable phenomena that happens occurs throughout the various stages of the consumer’s
perceptual process. Perception is essentially a filtering process in which internal and external factors influence what is received and how it is processed and interpreted. Selective perception may occur at either of the four stages of the process, as shown in figure below.

After acquiring information during the information search stage of the decision process, the consumer moves to Alternative Evaluation. In this stage, the consumer compares the various brands or products and services he or she has identified as being capable of solving the consumption problem.

Once the consumer has identified an evoked set and has a list of alternatives, the brands must be evaluated using an Evaluation Criteria.
This criteria can be in either of the two forms mentioned below - 

 The next important step is to understand the "Attitude" of the consumers. According to Gordon Allport, “attitudes are learned predispositions to respond to an object.” 
If not in the favor of the brand or product that the marketer is working on, the attitude of the consumers needs to be changed. Some of the attitude change strategies are - 

Another important aspect of the alternative evaluation stage, which is done by the way of Integration. "Integration process" is the way by which product knowledge, meanings, and beliefs are combined to evaluate two or more alternatives. Its analysis focuses on the different types of decision rules or strategies consumers use to decide among purchase alternatives. 

The Decision making process can be thus summarized as - 

Thus, it is the job of the marketer to understand the decision making process of the consumer in detail so as to make a plan which is effective.
They need to make the consumers "learn" about their product/ service in a manner which makes them not only develop a positive attitude towards it, bit also buy it.

Following are the ways in which a consumer learns - 

We hope that this will help the readers in understanding the role consumer behavior plays in the development and implementation of advertising and promotional programs.

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