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Before developing their marketing plans, marketers need to use both rigorous scientific procedures and more intuitive methods to study consumer behavior, which is influenced by four factors: cultural (culture, subculture, and social class), social (reference groups, family, and social roles and statuses), personal (age, stage in the life cycle, occupation, economic circumstances, lifestyle, personality, and self-concept), and psychological (motivation, perception, learning, beliefs, and attitudes). Research into all of these factors can provide clues as to how to reach and serve consumers more effectively.

To understand how consumers actually make their buying decisions, marketers must identify who makes and influences the buying decision. People can be initiators, influencers, deciders, buyers, or users, and different marketing campaigns might be targeted to each type of person. Marketers must also examine buyers' levels of involvement and the number of brands available to determine whether consumers are engaging in complex buying behavior, dissonance-reducing buying behavior, habitual buying behavior, or variety-seeking buying behavior.

The five-stage consumer buying process consists of problem recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision, and postpurchase behavior. The marketer's job is to understand the buyer's behavior at each stage and what influences are operating. The attitudes of others, unanticipated situational factors, and perceived risk may all affect the decision to buy, as will consumers' levels of post-purchase satisfaction, the company's postpurchase actions, and consumers' postpur-chase use and disposal of the product. Satisfied customers will continue to purchase; dissatisfied customers will stop purchasing the product and are likely to spread the word among their friends. For this reason, smart companies work to ensure customer satisfaction in every stage of the buying process.


1. Tobi Elkin, "Product Pampering," Brandweek, June 16, 1997, pp. 38-40; Tim Stevens, "Lights, Camera, Innovation!" Industry Week, July 19, 1999, www.industryweek.com; Rekha Balu, "Whirlpool Gets Real with Customers," Fast Company, December 1999, pp. 74, 76.

2. See Leon G. Schiffman and Leslie Lazar Kanuk, Consumer Behavior, 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 2000).

3. Carole Radice, "Hispanic Consumers: Understanding a Changing Market," Progressive Grocer, February 1997, pp. 109-14; Dana Canedy, "The Courtship of Black Consumers," New York Times, August 11, 1998, p. D1; Sharon Fairley, George P. Moschis, Herbert M. Myers, and Arnold Thiesfeldt, "Senior Smarts: The Experts Sound Off," Brandweek, August 4, 1997, pp. 24-25; Candace Corlett, "Senior Theses," Brandweek, August 4, 1997, pp. 22-23.

5. See Rosann L. Spiro, "Persuasion in Family Decision Making," Journal ofConsumer Research, March 1983, pp. 393-402; Lawrence H. Wortzel, "Marital Roles and Typologies as Predictors of Purchase Decision Making for Everyday Household Products: Suggestions for Research," in Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 7, ed. Jerry C. Olson (Chicago: American Marketing Association, 1989), pp. 212-15; David J. Burns, "Husband-Wife Innovative Consumer Decision Making: Exploring the Effect of Family Power," Psychology & Marketing May-June 1992, pp. 175-89; Robert Boutilier, "Pulling the Family's Strings," American Demographics, August 1993, pp. 44-48. For cross-cultural comparisons of husband-wife buying roles, see John B. Ford, Michael S. LaTour, and Tony L. Henthorne, "Perception of Marital Roles in Purchase-Decision Processes: A Cross-Cultural Study," Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, Spring 1995, pp. 120-31.

6. George Moschis, "The Role of Family Communication in Consumer Socialization of Children and Adolescents," Journal ofConsumer Research, March 1985, pp. 898-913.

7. Marilyn Lavin, "Husband-Dominant, Wife-Dominant, Joint: A Shopping Typology for Baby Boom Couples?" Journal ofConsumer Marketing 10, no. 3 (1993): 33-42.

8. James U. McNeal, "Tapping the Three Kids' Markets," American Demographics, April 1998, pp. 37-41.

9. Rob Yoegel, "Reaching Youth on the Web," Target Marketing November 1997, pp. 38-41.

10. See Lawrence Lepisto, "A Life Span Perspective of Consumer Behavior," in Advances in Consumer Research, Vol. 12, ed. Elizabeth Hirshman and Morris Holbrook (Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research, 1985), p. 47. Also see Gail Sheehy, New Passages: Mapping Your Life Across Time (New York: Random House, 1995).

11. Arnold Mitchell, The Nine American Lifestyles (New York: Warner Books), pp. viii-x, 25-31; Personal communication from the VALS™ Program, Business Intelligence Center, SRI Consulting, Menlo Park, CA, February 1, 1996. See also Wagner A. Kamakura and Michel Wedel, "Lifestyle Segmentation with Tailored Interviewing," Journal of Marketing Research 32, no. 3 (August 1995): 308-17.

12. Paul C. Judge, "Are Tech Buyers Different?" Business Week, January 26, 1998, pp. 64-65, 68; Andy Hines, "Do you Know Your Technology Type?" The Futurist, September-October

1997, pp. 10-11; Rebecca Piirto Heath, "The Frontiers of Psychographics," American Demographics, July 1996, pp. 38-43; information on iVALS from www.future.sri.com (September 1999).

13. Stuart Elliott, "Sampling Tastes of a Changing Russia," New York Times, April 1, 1992, pp. D1, D19.

14. See Harold H. Kassarjian and Mary Jane Sheffet, "Personality and Consumer Behavior: An Update," in Perspectives in Consumer Behavior, ed. Harold H. Kassarjian and Thomas S. Robertson (Glenview, IL: Scott, Foresman, 1981), pp. 160-80.

15. See M. Joseph Sirgy, "Self-Concept in Consumer Behavior: A Critical Review," Journal of Consumer Research, December 1982, pp. 287-300.

16. See Thomas J. Reynolds and Jonathan Gutman, "Laddering Theory, Method, Analysis, and Interpretation," Journal of Advertising Research, February-March 1988, pp. 11-34.

17. Abraham Maslow, Motivation and Personality (New York: Harper & Row, 1954), pp. 80-106.

18. See Frederick Herzberg, Work and the Nature of Man (Cleveland, OH: William Collins, 1966); and Henk Thierry and Agnes M. Koopman-Iwerna, "Motivation and Satisfaction," in Handbook of Work and Organizational Psychology, ed. P.J. Drenth (New York: John Wiley, 1984), pp. 141-42.

19. Bernard Berelson and Gary A. Steiner, Human Behavior: An Inventory of Scientific Findings (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1964), p. 88.

20. See Alice M. Tybout, Bobby J. Calder, and Brian Sternthal, "Using Information Processing Theory to Design Marketing Strategies," Journal of Marketing Research, February 1981, pp. 73-79.

21. "International: Old Wine in New Bottles," The Economist, February 21, 1998, p. 45.

22. See David Krech, Richard S. Crutchfield, and Egerton L. Ballachey, Individual in Society (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1962), ch. 2.

23. Melanie Wells, "Got a Milk Mustache? Campaign's Popularity Staying Fresh," USA Today Ad Track, July 13, 1999, www.usatoday.com; Jill Venter, "Milk Mustache Campaign Is a Hit with Teens," St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 1, 1998, p. E1; Dave Fusaro, "The Milk Mustache," Dairy Foods, April 1997, p. 75; Judann Pollack, "Milk: Kurt Graetzer," Advertising Age, June 30, 1997, p. S1.

24. See Henry Assael, Consumer Behavior and Marketing Action (Boston: Kent, 1987), ch. 4.

25. Marketing scholars have developed several models of the consumer buying process. See John A. Howard and Jagdish N. Sheth, The Theory of Buyer Behavior (New York: Wiley, 1969); and James F. Engel, Roger D. Blackwell, and Paul W. Miniard, Consumer Behavior, 8th ed. (Fort Worth, TX: Dryden, 1994).

26. See William P. Putsis, Jr. and Narasimhan Srinivasan, "Buying or Just Browsing? The Duration of Purchase Deliberation," Journal of Marketing Research, August 1994, pp. 393-402.

27. See Chem L. Narayana and Rom J. Markin, "Consumer Behavior and Product Performance: An Alternative Conceptualization," Journal of Marketing, October 1975, pp. 1-6. See also Wayne S. DeSarbo and Kamel Jedidi, "The Spatial Representation of Heterogeneous Consideration Sets," Marketing Science 14, no. 3, pt. 2 (1995), 326-42; and Lee G. Cooper and Akihiro Inoue, "Building Market Structures from Consumer Preferences," Journal of Marketing Research 33, no. 3 (August 1996), 293-306.

28. See Paul E. Green and Yoram Wind, Multiattribute Decisions in Marketing: A Measurement Approach (Hinsdale, IL: Dryden, 1973), ch. 2; Leigh McAlister, "Choosing Multiple Items from a Product Class," Journal ofConsumer Research, December 1979, pp. 213-24.

29. This expectancy-value model was developed by Martin Fishbein, "Attitudes and Prediction of Behavior," in Readings in Attitude Theory and Measurement, ed. Martin Fishbein (New York: John Wiley, 1967), pp. 477-92. For a critical review, see Paul W. Miniard and Joel B.

Cohen, "An Examination of the Fishbein-Ajzen Behavioral-Intentions Model's Concepts and Measures," Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, May 1981, pp. 309-39.

30. See Harper W. Boyd Jr., Michael L. Ray, and Edward C. Strong, "An Attitudinal Framework for Advertising Strategy," Journal of Marketing, April 1972, pp. 27-33.

31. See Jagdish N. Sheth, "An Investigation of Relationships among Evaluative Beliefs, Affect, Behavioral Intention, and Behavior," in Consumer Behavior: Theory and Application, eds. John U. Farley, John A. Howard, and L. Winston Ring (Boston: Allyn & Bacon, 1974), pp. 89-114.

32. See Fishbein, "Attitudes and Prediction of Behavior."

33. See Raymond A. Bauer, "Consumer Behavior as Risk Taking," in Risk Taking and Information Handling in Consumer Behavior, ed. Donald F. Cox (Boston: Division of Research, Harvard Business School, 1967); and James W. Taylor, "The Role of Risk in Consumer Behavior," Journal of Marketing, April 1974, pp. 54-60.

34. See Priscilla A. La Barbera and David Mazursky, "A Longitudinal Assessment of Consumer Satisfaction/Dissatisfaction: The Dynamic Aspect of the Cognitive Process," Journal of Marketing Research, November 1983, pp. 393-404.

35. See Barry L. Bayus, "Word of Mouth: The Indirect Effects of Marketing Efforts," Journal of Advertising Research, June-July 1985, pp. 31-39.

36. See Albert O. Hirschman, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1970).

37. See Mary C. Gilly and Richard W. Hansen, "Consumer Complaint Handling as a Strategic Marketing Tool," Journal ofConsumer Marketing, Fall 1985, pp. 5-16.

38. See James H. Donnelly Jr. and John M. Ivancevich, "Post-Purchase Reinforcement and Back-Out Behavior," Journal of Marketing Research, August 1970, pp. 399-400.

39. Pam Weisz, "Avon's Skin-So-Soft Bugs Out," Brandweek, June 6, 1994, p. 4.

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