Consumer behavior (in consumer business context) referred to as the study of when, why, how, where and what people do or do not buy products. It blends elements from psychology, sociology, social, anthropology and economics. It attempts to understand the buyer decision making process, both individually and in groups. It studies characteristics of individual consumers such as demographics and behavioural variables in an attempt to understand people’s wants. It also tries to assess influences on the consumer from groups such as family, friends, reference groups, and society in general. Customer behavior study is based on consumer buying behavior, with the customer playing the three distinct roles of user, payer and buyer. Relationship marketing is an influential asset for customer behavior analysis as it has a keen interest in the re-discovery of the true meaning of marketing through the re-affirmation of the importance of the customer or buyer. A greater importance is also placed on consumer retention, customer relationship management, personalization, customization and one-to-one marketing. Social functions can be categorized into social choice and welfare functions. Each method for vote counting is assumed as a social function but if Arrow’s possibility theorem is used for a social function, social welfare function is achieved. Some specifications of the social functions are decisiveness, neutrality, anonymity, monotonocity, unanimity, homogeneity and weak and strong Pareto optimality. No social choice function meets these requirements in an ordinal scale simultaneously. The most important characteristic of a social function is identification of the interactive effect of alternatives and creating a logical relation with the ranks. Marketing provides services in order to satisfy customers. With that in mind, the productive system is considered from its beginning at the production level, to the end of the cycle, the consumer (Kioumarsi et al., 2009).
Belch and Belch define consumer behavior as ‘the process and activities people engage in when searching for, selecting, purchasing, using, evaluating, and disposing of products and services so as to satisfy their needs and desires’.’
Consumer Behavior: What does it influence?
• For organic retailers Challenges for organic retailers
• Optimize quality perception indoor and outdoor
• To handle flood of available single items in context of limited space
• Customer oriented product
• Presentation and product placement
• Competence of sales persons
• Personal customer – shop owner relation
Once the consumer has recognised a problem, they search for information on products and services that can solve that problem. Belch and Belch (2007) explain that consumers undertake both an internal (memory) and an external search.
Sources of information include:
• Personal sources
• Commercial sources
• Public sources
• Personal experience
The relevant internal psychological process that is associated with information search is perception. Perception is defined as ‘the process by which an individual receives, selects, organises, and interprets information to create a meaningful picture of the world’
There are three fundamental patterns which a consumer can follow and they could be:
(I) Brand first, retail outlet second
(ii) Retail outlet first, brand second
(iii) Brand and retail outlet simultaneously.
A consumer wanting to buy a car may collect information on brands and purchase it from a retail outlet based on his perception of price offered or after-sales service provided by the outlet (typically, search for information on brands is followed by retail outlet selection in durables). In certain product categories, especially where `category killers’ exist, consumers may think of the retail outlet initially and then the brands (television, refrigerator and audio products retailed through outlets like Vivek and Co. in the South, could be an example).
One more dimension may be to compare brands in the evoked set at retail outlets which also exist in an evoked set of their own. This is highly possible, especially in the Indian context where dealers develop a social relationship with consumers, especially in semi-urban and rural areas. Primary research could be used to discover the specific sequence involved in a situation of this kind. A `brand first’ dimension may need feature-based advertising and a `retail outlet first’ dimension may require a set of point-of-purchase (POP) materials and special training to sales personnel to recognize the needs of consumers.
Further, if it is known that a number of consumers may be oriented to visit their favorite retailer (before obtaining information on brands) in a geographical area, there would have to be more emphasis on regional/local advertising which highlights the retail shop rather than regular brand-based national advertising.