Consumer buyer behavior is a psychological marketing concept that is critical for businesses to understand. It is an overview of factors that affect the process customers use to make purchase decisions and the influences on them as they go about this process. Companies typically have more ability to affect customers if they understand their motivations and influences.


A major aspect of consumer buying behavior is the decision-making process. This is the systematic approach thoughtful, purposeful and logical buyers use to make all purchase decisions. It begins with a functional or emotional need recognition. For instance, a consumer may develop a sense of hunger. Next, he seeks information, which includes the formulation of a provider or brand consideration set and evaluation of each on criteria he values. Taste quality, service, price and convenience may be factors used to assess fast-food shops to meet his hunger need. Once a decision is made on best value for that situation, the buyer makes a purchase and finally compares the experience with his expectations to guide his next purchase situation.

Buying Situations

Contributing to the information search process is the specific buying situation a customer is in. When customers have little experience with a product, and the purchase carries high levels of financial or social risk, they engage in extended problem solving and deliberately search for information. When experience is low but enthusiasm and risk also are low, buyers engage in limited problem solving and research. Habitual buyers make routine purchases of the same products and brands. Ultimately, companies want buyers to develop an emotional commitment called loyalty. If you sell complex, high-end products, you can expect customers to seek more information and require more persuasion in your promotional messages.

External Influences

While individual buyer behavior is often simple to understand, the fact that buyers have subconscious influences from a variety of external people and entities makes marketing more challenging. Families, culture, religion, life roles, social class and fashion trends are among the common factors that impact what consumers buy and their approach throughout the decision-making process. For instance, a young adult may buy Tide laundry detergent simply because that's what his mom used growing up.

Marketing Influence

Understanding all of the aspects of consumer behavior enables you as a marketer to carry more influence. You can offer emotionally appealing ads to bring to light unrecognized needs to customers. Insurance companies, for instance, often have to scare or make customers anxious to get them to consider certain insurance products. Additionally, much of advertising is used to project benefits that target consumers find appealing during the search process. Post-purchase advertising helps you generate loyalty and maintain connections with top customers.