Thursday, September 6, 2012

Marketing 101: An Overview of Consumer Buying Behavior

There are many mysteries in life.  Love, happiness, success, the meaning of life, teenagers, and for marketing professionals, consumers can be the biggest nut we try to crack and understand on a daily basis.  It's our job to understand how to convince our target market to buy what we have to offer.  How do we get them to see the value in our messaging so that we can get value from them in return?  It all revolves around the "mystery" of consumer buying behavior, and the factors that affect it.

What is Consumer Buyer Behavior?  Consumer Buyer Behavior refers to the behavior of the final consumers.  These consumers are the individuals and households who are buying goods and services in the marketplace for their own personal consumption.  It is important to note that I did not mention the word "business".  Consumer Buyer Behavior focuses on B2C transactions, not B2B transactions.

Consumer Buyer Behavior is a "mystery", because consumers vary greatly in their demographics and individual characteristics.  No one buyer is alike another.  However some groups of buyers do act similarly to each other.  In order to study buyer behavior, we have had to create a model to answer the central question of how consumers will respond to different marketing efforts and stimuli.  It's called...the "Model of Consumer Buyer Behavior".  Original, I know.  This stimulus response model is our guide.

The model looks like this:

[1] Consumers "ingest" marketing and other stimuli > [2] the stimuli enters their "buyer black box" > [3] the "black box" creates buyer responses.

It starts with marketing and other stimuli.  When we consider marketing stimuli, we usually focus on the "4 P's": Product, Price, Place and Promotion.  When we are examining other stimuli, we usually look at internal and outside economic, technological, political and cultural factors that influence the buyer.

All of that stimuli enters what we call the "buyer black box"... the brain.  This "black box" contains all of the characteristics of the buyer.  The buyer characteristics influence how he or she perceives the marketing stimuli, and creates a reaction.  The "black box" also contains the consumer's individual decision process, which is used to evaluate whether or not they will purchase a product.

Finally, this black box creates the "buyer response".  This buyer response influences the choice of product, their individual brand choice, the choice of dealer, the timing of the purchase, and the amount of money they will be spent on the goods and services.

Over the next few weeks we will be examining these characteristics as they affect buyer behavior, and discuss the decision process that the consumer follows.


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