And Buyer Behavior

We will address the following questions:

■ How do cultural, social, personal, and psychological factors influence consumer buying behavior?

■ How does the consumer make a purchasing decision?

The aim of marketing is to meet and satisfy target customers' needs and wants. The field of consumer behavior studies how individuals, groups, and organizations select, buy, use, and dispose of goods, services, ideas, or experiences to satisfy their needs and desires. Understanding consumer behavior is never simple, because customers may say one thing but do another. They may not be in touch with their deeper motivations, and they may respond to influences and change their minds at the last minute.

Still, all marketers can profit from understanding how and why consumers buy. For example, Whirlpool's staff anthropologists go into people's homes, observe how they use appliances, and talk with household members. Whirlpool has found that in busy families, women are not the only ones doing the laundry. Knowing this, the company's engineers developed color-coded washer and dryer controls to make it easier for kids and men to pitch in.1

In fact, not understanding your customer's motivations, needs, and preferences can lead to major mistakes. This is what happened when Kodak introduced its Advanta camera—a costly bust. The company proudly touted it as a high-tech product, but the marketplace was dominated by middle-aged baby-boomers. In midlife, fancy new technology generally loses its appeal, and simplicity begins to edge out complexity in consumer preferences, so Advanta sales did not skyrocket.

Such examples show why successful marketers use both rigorous scientific procedures and more intuitive methods to study customers and uncover clues for developing new products, product features, prices, channels, messages, and other marketing-

mix elements. This chapter explores individual consumers' buying dynamics; the next chapter explores the buying dynamics of business buyers.


The starting point for understanding consumer buying behavior is the stimulus-response model shown in Figure 3-1. As this model shows, both marketing and environmental stimuli enter the buyer's consciousness. In turn, the buyer's characteristics and decision process lead to certain purchase decisions. The marketer's task is to understand what happens in the buyer's consciousness between the arrival of outside stimuli and the buyer's purchase decisions.

As this model indicates, a consumer's buying behavior is influenced by cultural, social, personal, and psychological factors.

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