Consumer Buyer Behaviour Definition

By John Dudovskiy

Consumer Buyer Behaviour Definition Consumer buyer behaviour is considered to be an inseparable part of marketing and Kotler and Keller (2011) state that consumer buying behaviour is the study of the ways of buying and disposing of goods, services, ideas or experiences by the individuals, groups and organizations in order to satisfy their needs and wants.

Buyer behaviour has been defined as “a process, which through inputs and their use though process and actions leads to satisfaction of needs and wants” (Enis, 1974, p.228). Consumer buying behaviour has numerous factors as a part of it which are believed to have some level of effect on the purchasing decisions of the customers.

Alternatively, consumer buying behaviour “refers to the buying behaviour of final consumers, both individuals and households, who buy goods and services for personal consumption” (Kumar, 2010, p.218). From marketers’ point of view issues specific aspects of consumer behaviour that need to be studied include the reasons behind consumers making purchases, specific factors influencing the patterns of consumer purchases, analysis of changing factors within the society and others.

      Authors  How to define consumer behaviour Findings
Faison and Edmund (1977) “The assumption that people have series of needs which lead to drive state.”  Needs
Engel, et al. (1986) “Those acts of individuals directly involved in obtaining, using, and disposing of economic

goods and services, including the decision processes that precede and determine these acts”

Acts, individuals
Kotler   (1994) Consumer   behaviour   is   the   study   of   how   people   buy,   what they buy, when they buy and why they buy.  
Solomon et al. (1995) Consumer  is the study “of the processes involved when individuals or groups select, purchase, use, or dispose of products, services, ideas, or experiences to satisfy needs and desires”  Process, needs, individuals, group
Schiffman (2007)  “the behaviour that consumers display in searching for, purchasing, using, evaluating, and disposing of products and services that they expect will satisfy their needs” Acts,  need

Example of previous research used to define consumer behaviour

Moreover, the following popular definitions have been proposed for the term of consumer buyer behaviour:

  • According to Blackwell et al (2006) consumer buying behaviour is itself is a complex, dynamic issue which cannot be defined easily and commonly. Therefore, the concept of consumer buying behaviour has been defined in different ways by different researchers.
  • The definition formed by Solomon et al (1995) describes consumer buying behaviour as a process of choosing, purchasing, using and disposing of products or services by the individuals and groups in order to satisfy their needs and wants. Similar definition of consumer buying behaviour is offered by Schiffman and Kanuk (2000) in which they describe it as behaviour that consumers express when they select and purchase the products or services using their available resources in order to satisfy their needs and desires.
  • Consumer buying behaviour is defined by Stallworth (2008) as a set of activities which involves the purchase and use of goods and services which resulted from the customers’ emotional and mental needs and behavioural responses. It is further stated by Gabbot and Hogg (1998) that the process may contain different activities and stages.

Although the definitions given above are various, they all lead to common view that consumer buying behaviour is a process of selecting, purchasing and disposing of goods and services according to the needs and wants of the consumers. However, there is a general consensus among the researchers and academics that this process is subject to continual change over time as the purchase characteristics of the customers change due to their physical and psychological needs.

In the mean time, Kotler and Keller (2011) highlight the importance of understanding consumer buying behaviour and the ways how the customers choose their products and services can be extremely important for manufacturers as well as service providers as this provides them with competitive advantage over its competitors in several aspects. For example, they may use the knowledge obtained through studying the consumer buying behaviour to set their strategies towards offering the right products and services to the right audience of customers reflecting their needs and wants effectively.

Another valuable argument is provided by Egen (2007) on the importance of understanding the consumer behaviour. According to the author, better awareness of consumer buying behaviour is a positive contribution to the country’s economic state. The author further argues that the quality of goods and products are exceptionally good in countries where buying behaviour of consumers is well understood. This in turn increased the competitiveness of the products and services in international market increasing the export potential of the country. Meanwhile, high quality of domestic products and services lead to sophisticated domestic customers’ base (Blackwell et al, 2006).

In addition to efforts of better understanding the consumers’ buying behaviour, companies also engage in advertising and promotion activities to influence the consumers’ purchasing decision. However, when they are engaging in such types of activities, they need to consider other external factors such as the overall economic conditions of the country, politics, technology and ethnic culture all of which are beyond the control of both the company and consumer Lancaster et al (2002).

To sum up all the arguments stated above, it is clear that better understanding the consumer buying behaviour through studying and identifying their needs leads to huge long term benefits to the businesses. However, as stated by Kotler et al (2005) it is essential to mention that despite the great efforts to learn and understand the buying behaviour of consumers, it is very difficult to identify the exact reasons why a consumer purchases and prefers one product or service over another one. This is because consumers sometimes make purchasing decisions based on their emotional beliefs which they even themselves are not well aware of.


Blackwell, R., Miniard, P. and Engel, J. (2006) “Consumer behavior”, Mason: Thompson

Egan, J. (2007) “Marketing Communications”, London: Cengage Learning

Enis, B.M. (1974) “Marketing Principles: The Management Process”

Gabbott, M. and Hogg, G. (1998).  “Consumers and services”, Chichester: John Wiley & Sons.

Kotler, P. and Keller, K. (2011) “Marketing Management”(14th edition), London: Pearson Education

Kumar, P. (2010) “Marketing of Hospitality & Tourism Services” Tata McGraw-Hill Education

Schiffman, L., Hansen H. and Kanuk L. (2007) “Consumer Behaviour: A European Outlook”, London: Pearson Education

Solomon, M. (1995) “Consumer Behaviour” (3rd edition), New Jersey: Prentice Hall

Stallworth, P. (2008) “Consumer behaviour and marketing strategic”, online, pp.9.