Consumer buying behavior is a psychological process that is important to businesses and marketing professionals. Consumer buying behavior relates to the identification of consistent stages of decision making used in every purchase situation. The process begins with need recognition, followed by information gathering, a purchase and finally, post-purchase evaluation. Marketers rely on an understanding of buyer behavior to effectively position products and services. However, consumer buying behavior does have limitations.
One of the biggest drawbacks of relying too heavily on consumer buying behavior is that consumers rarely apply the same steps in the same way for every product and service purchase. This makes it more difficult for marketers trying to stimulate a need or to offer messages that enhance the likelihood of a purchase for their brand. Thus, most companies have to perform more research into their particular market segments and how they approach their brand.
Another primary limitation for marketers using the consumer buying behavior model is that consumers sometimes are much less involved in a purchase decision. For instance, someone buying laundry detergent is generally less involved in the purchase than someone buying a car or washer and dryer. Thus, the ability of marketers to affect consumers by analyzing buyer behavior is limited. Consumers that are less involved spend less time seeking or viewing information about the purchase.
Marketers spend significant time trying to interpret consumer buying behavior related to their products, but they must also understand how each given customer is influenced externally by social relationships and culture. Selling barbecue to Americans for the Fourth of July is fairly predictable. However, knowing how a given customer is influenced by family, friends and their community for purchases of appliances, food and household items is significantly more complex.
In its "Buyer Behavior" overview, MMC Learning points out that marketing tries to respond to consumer buying behavior by communicating with stimuli expected to elicit the desired consumer response. For instance, a fast food restaurant may promote its late night drive through window to inspire a desire from the market for a late night meal. Unfortunately, MMC Learning notes that buying behavior involves a number of complicated psychological variables related to consumer perception, motivation, learning, memory, attitude and personality. Accurately predicting response to a given message often demands significant marketing research and focus group studies.