Marketers are interested in understanding and influencing consumer behavior to increase demand for their products and services and, ultimately, to increase sales. Consumer behaviors have a number of implications on marketing strategy. It is important for organizations to thoroughly understand the markets they are attempting to influence and how consumer behaviors impact consumers' buying decisions.
Psychographics of Consumers
Psychographics are consumer attributes that serve to identify consumer activities, interests and opinions (AIOs). Studying consumer behaviors to understand the types of activities consumers engage in, the things they're interested in and the opinions they have can help marketers in two key ways: First, understanding AIOs can help marketers identify the appropriate communication tools to connect with target consumers. In addition, understanding AIOs can help marketers craft messages designed to influence or capitalize on their existing opinions.
Reference Groups -- Influence and Opinion
Consumers are influenced by others, and savvy marketers know this. The use of testimonials and spokespeople to strengthen a brand is common among many marketers -- consider the use of sports figures such as Tiger Woods to Peyton Manning to endorse products from golf clubs to cars to apparel. Word-of-mouth can be a powerful influence on buying behavior, and marketing strategies are often designed to leverage word-of-mouth. The increasing popularity and use of social media help marketers to take even more advantage of reference groups in helping to spread messages about their products and services.
The Elaboration Likelihood Model
The elaboration likelihood model (ELM) is a popular model used in marketing circles that helps marketers determine whether a central or peripheral route of communication would be most appropriate for a given audience based on their level of loyalty or connection to a product, service or cause. A central route is popular for communicating with consumers who are more highly involved with the product or issue, while peripheral means of communication (a combination of multiple approaches) are suitable for influencing less-involved consumers. An effective illustration of ELM is political campaigning. Party-to-party communication can take a central route; while attempts to influence a change in parties or among independents require peripheral communications.
Consumer decision-making determines the likelihood that a consumer will consider or purchase a particular product. In general, consumers seek to increase pleasure and avoid pain. They wish to minimize the risk of decisions they make and will invest more time in researching purchase decisions that represent a higher level of risk. For instance, low-cost, low-involvement products like shampoo will require less effort and consideration on the part of consumers than high-cost, high-involvement products like cars, computers or homes. Knowing this, marketers will spend more effort to communicate in more detail with consumers whose choices represent a higher level of risk.
- Entrepreneur; Case Study: How Do You Change Consumer Behavior; Kortney Stringer; 2003
- Entrepreneur; Going Local: Exploring Consumer Behavior and Motivations for Direct Food Purchases; Dawn Thilmany, Craig A. Bond & Jennifer K. Bond; 2008
- Fast Company; Changing Consumer Behavior One Water Bottle at a Time; John Edson; 2010
- Jupiterimages/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images