Consumer behavior (CB) is a broad area with many interconnected aspects, theories, and frameworks, which require an in-depth understanding to relate. This course was instrumental as it enabled me to understand the key concepts in this subject and how they are connected. Consumers select and use products depending on a number of factors, some of which drive them to prefer or avoid certain goods or services.
Before deciding to purchase a product, customers usually consider the extent to which it will satisfy their needs. Manufacturers and business invest much in understanding consumer behavior to ensure they produce goods and services which meet the expectations of their customers. This strategy gives such organizations an advantage over their competitors in the same industry or by manufacturing customized products tailored to meet consumer needs.
From this course, I learned many concepts, including the consumer behavior value framework, motivations and emotions driving CB, and the significance of understanding CB, all of which immensely contributed to my curiosity and learning.
The first chapter laid the foundation for the course and improved my understanding of consumer behavior and its importance. From this section of the course, I understood the factors that influence the buying decisions of consumers. This knowledge is applicable since, in my life, after studies, I can apply it to bridge the CB gap in the market and identify which products meet customers’ needs. There are alternatives or many brands of the same product whose manufacturers compete for the same consumers in most cases.
This chapter helped me comprehend what influences a customer to choose one brand over another, despite the fact that they are meant to satisfy the same need. Some of these factors were personal: individual differences based on age, gender, and culture, psychological: how persons respond to a marketing message, and social: the way social media, family, and friends talk about a product. I also learned that each client has a different consumption process and attitudes towards a specific product, manufacturer, or seller. Therefore, this chapter’s information was important as it set the stage for the rest of the course.
One of the concepts which stood out to me was the consumer behavior value framework (CBVF). Mostly, consumers can sacrifice quality and satisfaction, but not value. From chapter 2, I learned that CBVF is a theory illustrating the factors shaping consumer behaviors to determine the value associated with their consumption.
For example, in the entertainment industry, listeners can love one song and loathe the other, although by the same band, which reveals that customers have a specific set of characteristics that they expect in a particular product. Thus, one of the best decisions businesses make is to be consumer-oriented because most CB issues tie back to value. I found this framework useful in explaining the complexity surrounding consumption. At the core of understanding and experiencing CB is value.
However, to better understand this, it is vital to know the relationship between the brand, product, customer, and the retailer or service provider, reflecting the relational quality. In business, when consumers buy specific brands from a seller whenever they need the product, they become loyal customers. Therefore, the CBVF helps explain the interconnectedness between the consumer and the product based on value.
Moreover, businesses create high-quality relationships with their customers when the latter realize high value by purchasing from a specific company. Such consumers develop into loyal and committed customers when they experience high satisfaction from dealing with a particular company, according to CBVF. With a significant client base, a business does not have to advertise heavily to attract buyers because loyal customers will always return because they attach value to the product and find satisfaction using it.
For example, Apple Inc. has been successful in the telecommunication industry because of many loyal customers, who value iPods, iPhones, and Macs. This explains the consumption process, which involves a great deal of decision making. From this chapter, I learned that consumers decide what they need, consider a number of alternatives available, and focus on one. At the end of the consumption process, a customer reacts to the degree to which the product satisfied their needs, which then dictates the kind of value they attach to the brand, product, or company.
I learned that many factors, internal and external, influence the consumption process. The former include the personality and psychology of the consumer. Both cognitive and affective processes are a part of the psychology of the consumer. Knowledge comes from the cognition process, which involves how people perceive and store information.
For example, when a child hears her parents talk nastily about smoking, she develops a negative attitude towards it. On the other hand, if the parents speak positively about sandwiches, she will attach value to them. Similarly, if a consumer talks about satisfying experiences using a product, other people will be motivated to try it to meet their needs. Therefore, individuals’ perceptions about goods or services shape these products’ desirability, which illustrates the value they attached to the company producing the goods.
Conversely, the personality of the consumer includes individual differences that determine consumer behavior. I learned that businesses and manufacturers invest heavily in harnessing customers’ individual differences in order to produce goods tailored to meet individual consumer needs. Therefore, the consumption process is an important concept to learn and how it is connected to consumer behavior.
I also expanded my knowledge and thinking on how motivations and emotions drive consumer behavior. From chapter 5, we defined motivation as the driving force or internal reason behind human action. In CB, consumers are motivated by their needs to find products or services which can satisfy them. I learned that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs affects motivation in a number of ways. To understand this, we distinguished between utilitarian and hedonic motivation.
The former included consumers’ drive to obtain goods to accomplish things. For example, using an air freshener to cover up an unpleasant smell in the house or shopping with sellers who seem useful and easy to use is utilitarian. On the other hand, hedonic motivation is a more common one and involves the drive to look for a product or service which is personally satisfying. Examples include using an air fresher for liking its smell or shopping with exciting and funny retailers. Besides, I learned that consumer emotions, which can be measured through autonomic and self-report aspects, greatly help shape value. Therefore, consumer behavior is significantly influenced by motivations and emotions.
I got myself thinking about things differently in terms of personality, lifestyles, and self-concept, all learned under chapter 2. We defined personality as a totality of behaviors, intentions, emotions, and thoughts which an individual consistently exhibits. The psychoanalytic approach developed by Freud can help explain the personality differences among consumers.
Customer qualities are unique but can be conceptualized as a combination of individual characteristics, which interact with situations to influence consumer behavior, varying across time. The psychoanalytic approach focuses on such aspects as identity, focusing on immediate gratification and pleasure-seeking motives; superego, matching societal norms and expectations; and ego, which focuses on bridging the gap between the two aforementioned elements.
Conversely, we defined lifestyle as the way a person spends time and money, directing their consumption pattern evidenced by how they allocate their income to meeting their needs through the purchase of goods and services. I also learned essential marketing traits, value consciousness, materialism, innovativeness, self-monitoring, and competitiveness. Therefore, this chapter taught me the various ways self-concept, personality, and lifestyles are connected to consumer behavior.
The concept of group and interpersonal influence piqued my curiosity. I learned how the various types of reference groups impact the consumer’s value perception. The different types of reference group influences: value-expressive (ways consumers internalize values), utilitarian, how customers conform to group expectations, and informational, ways clients utilize the reference group’s attitudes and behaviors as information. I used to think word-of-mouth (WOM) is not effective, but I learned that it significantly influences consumer behavior in this chapter.
The information about a product or service experience can be passed from one consumer to another by WOM. A negative message from this exchange is likely to cause damage more damage to the product or brand than the positive one. I learned how marketers harness the potential of the WOM by building brand communities to learn the various ways they can improve their products. Therefore, group and interpersonal influence is significant in understanding consumer behavior and how customers attach values based on the information they obtain by WOM.
Another area I expanded my knowledge on is how cultures and micro-cultures influence consumer behavior. In chapter 9, we defined culture as a set of beliefs, values, and behavior shared by society members, which dictates what is socially satisfying. Customers learn about the culture’s expectations by enculturation (learning from their lineage) and acculturation (learning new ways from other people). There are two cultural norms, enacted and crescive, which direct consumers to attach value or develop attitudes toward a particular brand or product.
On the other hand, in chapter 10, I learned about micro-culture, which we defined as a group of individuals, who share some tastes and values, and are a part of the major culture. Since consumers are members of these sub-cultures, their interaction with other people in the same group influences their behavior as they attach value to products, services, or brands depending on the idiosyncrasies, habits, and expectations of the minor culture. Therefore, consumer behaviors are significantly influenced by cultures and micro-cultures.
My thinking concerning marketing has become different after what I learned from this course. The first concept was buzz marketing, which is aimed at creating excitement among customers and can be spread among other segments of the market. I learned the promotion of a product or service using unconventional means, guerrilla marketing. On the other hand, online technologies, such as social networking sites (SNS), can help facilitate word-of-mouth advertising; viral marketing.
However, in some instances, product promotion is done without consumers being entirely unaware that they are being marketed to, stealth marketing. Lastly, under marketing, I learned about the significant role household influence plays in consumer behavior.
In the household, there is an influencer, who gathers essential information about a product and a gatekeeper, who controls how that information flows in the family. There is also the decision-maker, who authorizes the purchase, the buyer, who pays for the product, and the user, who is the consumer. Therefore, I found myself thinking differently about marketing after learning the way it influences consumer behavior.
In conclusion, the course was beneficial in providing me with useful information regarding consumer behavior. The consumer behavior value framework was one of the many new aspects I learned from this course, with detailed ways in which value is interconnected with CB and how the individual consumer differences dictate their buying decisions. When companies have established a good relationship with customers and won their loyalty, they lower their advertising investment because of a client base.
Consumers attach value to a service or product depending on how well it satisfies their needs. When a person talks positively or explains a gratifying experience with a specific brand, the testimony tempts and encourages family and friends, who are prospective customers, to try the product.
The course also highlighted how motivations and emotion are related to consumer behavior and how Maslow’s hierarchy of needs influences motivation. Some consumers buy goods to accomplish things while others look for a personally gratifying product, for example, two consumers purchasing an air freshener for different reasons. Overall, the course was helpful, and I learned much about consumer behavior.