Factors Impacting Consumer Behaviour

By John Dudovskiy

Generally, factors impacting consumer behaviour include motivations, culture, age and gender, social class, lifecycle, life style, and reference groups etc (Arnould et al., 2002, Agwaral, 2006, Hudson, 2008). Full range of factors impacting consumer behaviour can be divided into psychological, situational, and social categories and each of these categories is discussed in more detail further below.

Factors Impacting Consumer Behaviour

Figure 1. Factors Impacting Consumer Behaviour

Psychological and Personal Factors Impacting Consumer Behaviour

Psychological factors impacting consumer behaviour include lifestyle, interests, occasions for the use of products and services, benefits sought for the use of products and services etc (Batra and Kazmi, 2008).

Personal factors affecting consumer behaviour is related to psychological factors and they include attitudes, motivations, perceptions, occupation ect. Lifestyle is one of the most important consumer variables and an important base for customer segmentation (Majumdar, 2010). Therefore, lifestyle analysis is perceived as one of the critical components of marketing research initiatives.

Values and lifestyle systems (VALS) represent framework that divide population into different categories according to psychological factors that are found to be correlated with their purchase behaviour (Assael, 2004). An initial VALS or VALS1 specified eight separate psychographic groups: innovators, survivors, thinkers, makers, achievers, strivers, believers and experiencers. According to VALS framework belonging to each group is associated with specific psychological profile and certain lifestyle. According to Hudson (2008) VALS represents a valuable framework in practical level, because businesses can develop products and services that targets unique needs of individual groups within the framework.

However, VALS has been criticised on the grounds of being too abstract and too general and this criticism has caused the development of VALS2 that “classifies people into segments based on whether they control abundant or minimal resources” (Arnould et al., 2002, p.126)

Factors Impacting Consumer Behaviour

Figure 2. VALS2

Figure adapted from Arnould et al. (2002)

According to VALS2 framework, three basic motivational orientations can be specified as principle, action or status. Accordingly, Arnould et al. (2002) argue that knowledge of motivational orientation of target customer segment allows businesses to develop products and services that are able to satisfy relevant needs in effective manners


Situational Factors Impacting Consumer Behaviour

Situational factors also play an important role in the process of consumer decision making process. These factors can be availability of desired product, the timing of the purchase, location and weather. These factors have been ignored by many researchers and academics claiming that these factors have less or no significance. However, according to the results of recent studies, these factors can be significantly influential on the consumer buying behaviour.

According to Lancaster et al (2002), situational factors are significant in terms of affecting the consumer buying behaviour. For example, according to the findings of Burrow (2008) physical and social environment of the purchasing location such as existing of long queues directly affect the consumers buying behaviour in a negative way. This can also be one of the reasons of growing trend of customers who are switching to online shopping in the recent years.

Range of situational factors affecting consumer behaviour include physical and social ambiance, time, state of mind, promotional deals, music etc. Fratu (2011) divides time-related situational factors effecting consumer behaviour into two categories: a) time spent considering the purchase of tourism services, b) time between buying decision and the act of purchase. According to Fratu (2011), increased amount of time spent considering the purchase of tourism services can motivate the purchase decision, however, the impact of time gap between buying decision and the act of purchase can is difficult to be predicted.

Moreover, attributes of physical environment such as place of purchase, lighting and temperature also do play significant role in tourism consumer behaviour (Batra and Kazmi, 2007). Situational environment, as the name implies, refers to specific aspects of situations that might impact on consumer behaviour (Schiffman et. al., 2012).


Social factors Factors Impacting Consumer Behaviour

The literature review has shed a light into a set of social factors such as reference groups, culture, family, social status and others. A widely accepted definition of culture can be proposed as “norms, beliefs and rituals that are unique to each person” (Hudson, 2008, p.46) and culture has been found as one of the most important social factor impacting consumer behaviour.

There is a consensus amongst authors about immense impact of cultural factors on various aspects of tourism experience. For example, specifications of a cultural background do impact customer attitudes about opening hours of restaurants and shops (Hudson, 2008) or cultural identities of certain group of consumers may affect their interpretation of marketing communication messages.

Additionally, family circumstances and family life cycle is stressed by a number of authors as an important social factor that affects consumer behaviour. For example, Fratu (2011) explores the impact of family life cycle phase on level of income of consumers and their inclination towards tourism. Fratu (2011) argues that inclination towards tourism is very strong amongst mature couple without children and retired old couple.  At the same time, inclination towards tourism is found to be very weak amongst young couple with children aged less than six years old. Table below comprises income levels and the level of inclination towards tourism for all family life cycles.

Family life cycle phase Income Inclination towards tourism
1. Single Modest Strong
2. Young couple without children Rising Medium
3. Young couple with children under six Decreasing Very weak
4. Young couple with children at school Rising Weak
5. Mature couple with children to support Stable Medium
6. Mature couple without children to support Maximum Very strong
7. Old couple in activity Stable Strong
8. Retired old couple Modest Very strong
9. Retired single Modest Weak

Influence of life cycle on tourism consumption

Source: Fratu (2011)

Webb (2009) convincingly argues that the majority of marketing communication messages are directed towards opinion leaders in society because they exert certain influence on reference groups through their abilities to group personifications and possession of extensive experience and knowledge. Moreover, opinion leaders usually hold privileged position to be able to communicate to reference groups (Schiffman et. al., 2012).

Social class emerges as an important factor impacting consumer behaviour in tourism industry and it refers to the position of an individual within the society in relation to a set of factors. Specifically, range of factors determining social class are perceived to include level of earnings, materials possessions, education level, family background and relatedness to certain social institutions (Batra and Kazmi, 2008).  Caste system in India can be specified as one of the most important institutions impacting social class of population in a significant level (Hudson, 2008).

The importance of taking into account cross-cultural differences when operating in a foreign market is stressed by Perreau (2013). The author mentions the case study of McDonald’s in a way that the company was successful in Indian market due to taking into account unique aspects of Indian national culture in an effective manner. For example, introduction of Chicken Maharaja Mac and Masala Grill Chicken Indian market is specified by Perreau (2013) as an effective strategy.

Daldrup (2012) analyses the future of consumer behaviour focusing on Indian market in particular. According to Daldrup (2012) consumer behaviour in India is influenced by diversification attempts of the government. Daldrup (2012) argues that Indian government’s diversification initiatives include the provision of easily-attainable loans and affordable mortgages. At the same time, Daldrup (2012) acknowledges changing mind-set from saving to borrowing amongst Indian as a challenging task. Daldrup (2012) explains this challenge by referring to relevant specifications of national culture in India and convincingly argues that it is difficult to change the impact of national culture on consumer behaviour because this impact is deeply ingrained in a psychological level.



Agwaral, M. (2006) “Consumer Behaviour and Consumer Protection in India” New Century

Arnould, E., Zinkhan, G. & Price, L. (2002) “Consumers” McGraw-Hill International

Batra, S.K. & Kazmi, S. (2008) “Consumer Behaviour” 2nd edition, EXCEL Books

Burrow, J.L. (2008) “Marketing”  Cengage Learning

Fratu, D. (2011) “Factors of Influence and Changes in the Tourism Consumer Behaviour” Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Brasov, Vol.4, Issue:53

Hudson, S. (2008) “Tourism and Hospitality Marketing: A Global Perspective” SAGE Publications

Lancaster, G., Massingham, L. and Ashford, R. (2002) “Essentials of Marketing” (4th edition), London: McGraw-Hill

Majumdar, R. (2010) “Consumer Behaviour: Insights from Indian Market” PHI

Schiffman, L.G., Hansen ,H. & Kanuk, L.L. (2012) “Consumer Behaviour: A European Outlook” Prentice Hall

Category: Consumer Behaviour