Consumer buying behaviour: introduction
Kotler and Keller (2011) state that the importance of studying consumer buying behaviour as an area of marketing is increasing due to several factors. In order to offer any product or service to the customers businesses must understand their customers’ culture, social group and many other factors. Understanding these factors helps businesses to draw an effective marketing plan in order to satisfy the needs and wants of their customers in more efficient way.
Another reason for increase the importance of the study of customer buying behaviour is intense pace globalization. According to Nargunkar (2008), globalization has changed the way the businesses operate and target their customers. As more and more businesses are operating in more than one country, they need to understand the different cultures and characteristics of their customers. As businesses grow geographically, their customer bases change and the needs of customers in one country varies from the needs of the customers in another country. Therefore, the study of consumer buying behaviour is essential in order to target all the customers in all different geographical areas.
In addition, studying the consumer buying behaviour is essential especially in conditions of fierce competition in the market. As the number of companies in the same industry which offer the similar or even the same products or services to the customers, these businesses need to target the right segment. To make this happen, it is important to understand the buying behaviour of the customers Lancaster et al (2002).
Another factor leading to the importance of learning customer buying behaviour is rapid advancements in the technology. Due to the development of information technologies and IT systems, learning the customer buying behaviour has become more practical and easier. It is also stated that the large and multinational businesses are investing significantly on improvements of their IT systems in order to better understand the needs and wants of their customers. This in turn enables them to identify what and how often their customers are purchasing Brink and Berndt (2009).
Companies need to be analysing their consumer buying behaviour in a constant manner in order to asses the impact of marketing strategy on customers, to deal with elements of marketing mix strategy with an increased level of effectiveness, and to be able to forecast buyer behaviour to various marketing strategies.
The importance to study the consumer buying behaviour has intensified due to fast pace of globalization which changed has been consistently changing the way consumers are shopping for their daily food and grocery products. As more retailers operate in more than on country, they have to pay close attention to the difference in culture, lifestyle, taste, expectations and many other factors that determine the differing buying behaviour of customers from various countries. Therefore, the study of consumer behaviour is very vital to target all the customers from different geographical areas.
In order to identify and research the whole purchasing process of the consumer, marketing scholars developed a “stage model” which lays out all the process and stages of the purchasing process of the consumer. It is worth noting that the buying process starts long before the actual purchase and it has consequences long afterward. According to Kotler and Keller (2012) the consumers usually pass through the five stages which such as problem recognition, information search, evaluation of alternatives, purchase decision and post-purchase behaviour. It is of great importance for the marketers to identify and study all these stages well in order to better find out about the buying behaviour of their consumers.
However, consumers do not always pass through all these five stages as they sometimes may reverse or skip some of these stages depending on their buying behaviour, need and the type of product. They mention about the regular brand products that consumers buy on a daily basis and their resistance to change this particular purchase decision. The marketers claim that when the consumers are purchasing these products, they usually skip the process of information search and evaluation. Therefore, it is important to note that this stage model works well when the consumer faces a new product with several alternatives.
Because the stage model is vital part of the consumer buying behaviour and this concept on its own has been very narrowly looked at by many retailers lately, the consequences of this has been quite adverse in some marketing campaigns. For example, even the largest retailer, Tesco has failed to successfully implement its price-cut campaign in early 2012 due to uncertainties in the reaction of its consumers leading to a fall in its share prices and overall revenue.
Therefore, in order to achieve strategic objectives, the retailers have to identify the buying behaviour of their customers in order to offer them the right products at the right prices through right marketing channels. In order to do this, retailers have to conduct in-depth marketing research to better understand the buying behaviour of their customers which requires very extensive research and analysis.
For example, retailers have to understand their customers’ culture, social groups, needs and wants before offering any product or service. Once the knowledge is gathered and analysed about the customers and their buying behaviour, retailers can design and draw better and more effective marketing plan to achieve their objectives.
Brink, A. & Berndt, A. (2009) “Relationship Marketing and Customer Relationship Management” Juta Publications
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
Lancaster, G., Massingham, L. and Ashford, R. (2002) “Essentials of Marketing” (4th edition), London: McGraw-Hill
Nargundkar, R. (2008) “Marketing Research: Text and Cases” Tata McGraw-Hill Educational