The topic of consumer behaviour is one of the massively studied topics by the researchers and marketers in the past and still being studied. Researchers show different reasons as to why consumer behaviour has been the topic of many academics and researchers. One of the common views is that understanding consumer behaviour has become a factor that has a direct impact on the overall performance of the businesses (Kotler and Keller, 2012). Another view suggests that understanding consumer behaviour has become crucial especially due to fierce competition in retail industry in the UK and worldwide (Lancaster et al, 2002). This chapter will introduce some other areas of research background of consumer behaviour addressing the works of researchers and marketers. Moreover, consumer decision making process, in particular, five stages of consumer decision making process will be discussed in detail.
It is worth noting that consumer buying behaviour is studied as a part of the marketing and its main objective it to learn the way how the individuals, groups or organizations choose, buy use and dispose the goods and the factors such as their previous experience, taste, price and branding on which the consumers base their purchasing decisions (Kotler and Keller, 2012).
One of such studies of consumer buying behaviour has been conducted by Acebron et al (2000). The aim of the study was to analyze the impact of previous experience on buying behaviour of fresh foods, particularly mussels. In their studies the authors used structural equation model in order to identify the relationship between the habits and previous experience on the consumer buying decision. Their findings show that personal habits and previous experience on of the consumers have a direct impact on the consumers’ purchase decision in the example of purchasing fresh mussels. They also found that the image of the product has a crucial impact on the purchasing decision of the consumer and further recommended that the product image should continuously be improved in order to encourage the consumers towards purchasing.
Another study conducted by Variawa (2010) analyzed the influence of packaging on consumer decision making process for Fast Moving Consumer Goods. The aim of the research was to analyze the impact of packaging for decision making processes of low-income consumers in retail shopping. A survey method has been used in order to reach the research objectives. In a survey conducted in Star Hyper in the town of Canterville 250 respondents participated. The findings of the research indicate that low-income consumers have more preferences towards premium packaging as this can also be re-used after the product has been consumed. Although the findings indicate that there is a weak relationship between the product packaging and brand experience. However, it has been proven by the findings of the research that low-income consumers have greater brand experience from the purchase of ‘premium’ products when compared to their experience from purchasing ‘cheap’ brand products.
Lee (2005) carried out study to learn the five stages of consumer decision making process in the example of China. The researcher focuses on the facts that affect the consumer decision making process on purchasing imported health food products, in particular demographic effects such as gender, education, income and marital status. The author employed questionnaire method in order to reach the objectives of the research. Analysis of five stages of consumer decision making process indicate that impact of family members on the consumer decision making process of purchasing imported health food products was significant.
The author further explains this by the fact Chinese tradition of taking care of young and old family members have long been developed and marriage is considered to be extremely important in Chinese tradition. This reflects in the findings of the study that the purchase of imported health food products made by a person for the people outside the family is declined significantly by both male and female Chinese after they get married.
Five Stages Model of consumer decision making process has also been studied by a number of other researchers. Although different researchers offer various tendencies towards the definitions of five stages, all of them have common views as they describe the stages in similar ways. One of the common models of consumer decision making process has been offered by Blackwell et al (2006). According to him, the five stages of consumer decision making process are followings: problem/need recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision made and post-purchase evaluation.
Each stage is then defined by a number of researchers varying slightly but leading to a common view about what each stage involves. For example, according to Bruner (1993) first stage, need recognition occurs when an individual recognizes the difference between what they have and what they want/need to have. This view is also supported by Neal and Questel (2006) stating that need recognition occurs due to several factors and circumstances such as personal, professional and lifestyle which in turn lead to formation of idea of purchasing.
In the next stage, consumer searches information related to desired product or service (Schiffman and Kanuk, 2007). Information search process can be internal and external. While internal search refers to the process where consumers rely on their personal experiences and believes, external search involves wide search of information which includes addressing the media and advertising or feedbacks from other people (Rose and Samouel, 2009).
Once the relevant information about the product or service is obtained the next stage involves analyzing the alternatives. Kotler and Keller (2005) consider this stage as one of the important stages as the consumer considers all the types and alternatives taking into account the factors such as size, quality and also price.
Backhaus et al (2007) suggested that purchase decision is one of the important stages as this stage refers to occurrence of transaction. In other words, once the consumer recognized the need, searched for relevant information and considered the alternatives he/she makes decision whether or not to make the decision. Purchasing decision can further be divided into planned purchase, partially purchase or impulse purchase as stated by Kacen (2002) which will be discussed further in detail in the next chapters.
Finally, post-purchase decision involves experience of the consumer about their purchase. Although the importance of this stage is not highlighted by many authors Neal et al (2004) argues that this is perhaps one of the most important stages in the consumer decision making process as it directly affects the consumers’ purchases of the same product or service from the same supplier in the future.
The most noteworthy writers that serve as academic advocates of The Five Stage Model of consumer decision making include Tyagi (2004), Kahle and Close (2006) Blackwell et al. (2006), and others.
It is important to note that The Five Stage Model is not the only model related to consumer decision-making, and there are also a range of competing models that include Stimulus-Organism-Response Model of Decision Making developed by Hebb in 1950’s, Prescriptive Cognitive Models, The Theory of Trying (Bagozzi and Warsaw, 1990), Model of Goal Directed Behaviour (Perugini and Bagozzi, 2001) and others. All of these models are analysed in great detail in Literature Review chapter of this work.
Factors Impacting Consumer Buyer Behaviour
It has been established that the consumer buying behaviour is the outcome of the needs and wants of the consumer and they purchase to satisfy these needs and wants. Although it sounds simple and clear, these needs can be various depending on the personal factors such as age, psychology and personality. Also there are some other external factors which are broad and beyond the control of the consumer.
A number of researches have been carried out by academics and scholars on identifying and analyzing those factors affecting the consumers’ buying behaviour and as a result, various types of factors have been identified. These factors have been classified into different types and categories in different ways by different authors. For instance, Wiedermann et al (2007) classified them into internal and external factor. On the other hand, Winer (2009) divided them into social, personal and psychological factors. Despite the fact that they have been classified into different groups by different authors they are similar in scope and purpose (Rao, 2007).
Bagozzi, R. & Warsaw, L. (1990) “Trying to Consumer” Journal of Consumer Research 17, (2) pp. 127 – 140.
Backhaus, K. Hillig, T. and Wilken, R. (2007) “Predicting purchase decision with different conjoint analysis methods”, International Journal of Market Research. 49(3). Pp. 341-364.
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Kacen. J. J. and Lee. J. A., (2002) “The influence of culture on consumer impulsive buying behaviour”, Journal of consumer psychology. 12(2), pp. 163-174.
Kahle L.R. and Close, A. (2006) “Consumer Behaviour Knowledge for Effective Sports and Event Marketing”, Taylor & Francis, New York, USA
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Schiffman, L., Hansen H. and Kanuk L. (2007) “Consumer Behaviour: A European Outlook”, London: Pearson Education
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Tyagi, C. and Kumar, A. (2004) “Consumer Behaviour”, Atlantic Publishers, US
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