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Understanding Consumer Behaviour

3 Influences on Consumer Behaviour

Consumer buying behaviour is influenced by four major factors:

  • Psychological – motivation, perception and attitudes
  • Personal – factors in life cycle such as age, occupation, stage in family life cycle
  • Social – friends, family, trade unions and professional bodies
  • Cultural – the environment we grow up in, country and religion

Let’s take a closer look at each of these factors…

Psychological Factors

The three main psychological factors are motivation, perception, and attitudes.

Everyone’s motivations are different. Someone who lives in poverty is going to be concerned with food, drink and shelter, rather than a new BMW. However, a person who has enough material wealth might be motivated by self-fulfilment and want to buy courses or knowledge for self-improvement. What we buy is very much influenced by our motivation and goals in life depending where we are on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

Again, individuals all have a different perception of the world, which is unique to them. Some people feel that the world is a negative place and others feel it is full of optimism. This affects what people buy and their reaction to products.

Attitudes lead people to behave in a fairly consistent way towards thoughts, feelings and tendencies. If you are old fashioned or conservative in your attitudes then this will affect what you buy, wear or think across the board. Attitudes are quite difficult to change because they are set at a fairly young age. It is a challenge for marketing people to try to change attitudes but they do try in the way they promote and associate celebrity to products.

Personal Factors

Personal factors such as age dictate which products and services we consume and how we react to different marketing messages.

Stage in the family life-cycle is important as to how much disposable income we have. Whether we are married, single, with small or grown up children affects what we buy.

Occupation influences our income, status, attitudes and expectations. We tend to buy more expensive, luxury items, the more of a professional job we have.

Lifestyle affects what we buy. Someone who prefers an outdoor lifestyle will buy outdoor products. Also someone who is a couch potato might buy more junk food and Sky TV subscription.

Social Factors

We are influenced by three groups of people.

The primary group of social influencers includes our family, friends and work colleagues. We are also influenced by secondary groups such as trade unions and professional bodies. Thirdly, the sort of group that we would ‘like’ to belong to also affects what we buy. Examples that might fall into this inspirational group include country clubs, marketing bodies, Mercedes owners club, etc.

Cultural Factors

We are all influenced by the culture we grew up in. Areas of influence differ between countries, sub-cultures (such as class in Britain or caste in India), religion, and age related culture.